CONDITIONS: Difficult to comprehend, but here we are some one week away from IRMA’S devastating visit to the Florida Peninsula and beyond last year …….and we have yet to have any tropical storm warnings or even long range evidence of any threats this year. Amazing ! And very well accepted. However our “weather devil” this year has been the fouled water amassed all along the SW Florida coastline. But, we are beginning to see lower air temperatures now as well as the “Real Feel” temperature levels all through our area and that is a solid indicator that we will soon see an abatement of the red tide effect…..that’s good for us folks down here circa Marco Island but for the folks adjacent to the polluted Lake Okeechobee releases, that pattern of afternoon torrential storms we are experiencing will exacerbate the water quality problem circa Sanibel and Fort Myers Beach. So, bottom line, our general water quality concerns here should start moving, rather quickly in a positive direction and give us some great fall fishing conditions here. This coming week will continue to deliver those brief but impactive T-storms most afternoons, so it’s important you keep an eye on the sky and move to shelter before those storm generated torrents descend on your afternoon. The wind will stay fairly placid with light easterly winds with some afternoon gusty periods especially associated with the T-storms. The tides are docile this week and should give you reasonable water flow both ways. Lastly, the general heat conditions are easing and we can predict a slight dip in water temps to the 85-86 range.
BACKWATER: This backwater domain will remain the toughest to deal with even as the water cleans up. Look for areas with evident good tidal water flow to give you best chance at unfouled water and good early fall action. With the snook season open, that species will be the primary target through these next couple of months. The bigger snook will be active early and late in the days and will be feeding in shallow drop-offs adjacent to deeper cuts. Bait of choice is pilchards or even top grade artificials like the Zara Spook worked dead center in the current flow. The slightly cooler conditions will also be triggering the annual redfish fall action. Good chance now that most of the “red” action will be on undersized puppy reds……suggest you anticipate that and employ circle hooks as you work those shaded mangrove edges at the last hour or so of the very favorable late afternoon high tides. Mangrove snapper, however, will continue to be the most active targets even as we move toward late summer conditions. Work the current fed mangrove edges with tipped weighted jigs or even try a whole shrimp worked on a 1/4 oz jig head.
NEARSHORE: As mentioned in prior reports……the effects of the fouled water generally dissipates as you move west. But recent experience has shown some current flow from up north has carried fouled water in a southwest direction and impacted our action at mid range depths. There has been good solid action on snapper, mackerel and other bottom dwellers in the one to four mile range and then it slows till you reach the offshore (10-12 miles) areas. So recommendations for this week, is to work the close in reefs and structure with tipped jigs worked over a good chum effort for the surface pelagics and weighted tipped jigs, again under chum, for the bottom dwellers. And don’t forget early morning or late evening action working live bait right tight to the beach breaker line for snook.
OFFSHORE: As described in the nearshore section, consider the starting point out here at about fifteen miles where you have the best chance for species that have exited to deeper waters to avoid the red tide / algae laden water. Look for good to excellent bottom action on lane and mangrove snapper working wrecks or bottom structure with weighted jigs under chum. But also be prepared for a visit from nearby pelagics aka mackerel, bluefish, little tunny as they sense the commotion and chummed waters. On the deeper wrecks, that are identified as holding bait schools, there continues to be good pelagic action on kings as well as associated pelagics i.e. barracuda and sharks that will tear into a tethered cut bait soaking in a chum slick. Super deep -60-70’ hard bottom for possible red grouper action working live bait tight to the irregular bottom on a tidal powered drift.