CONDITIONS: We come off the “chill down” this week with the morning air temperatures hovering in the high 50’s to the mid 60’s and getting to a mildly toasty high 70’s by mid afternoon. That will effect the water temp that had dipped to ____ last week and see it rise to a predicted ____this week. All that water temp swing is going to accomplish is confuse the fish. Unfortunately ! We won’t see any fronts / storms this week and just one brief spot of rain late week on one afternoon. The wind will be back and forth with most of the gusty stuff occurring in the late afternoons. Not enough sustainability in that to foul the water, so we should have a plus in generally clean water. We will go through another new moon cycle this week with tides remarkably steady……morning incoming will move 2.8 feet of water and the afternoon ebb will ease and move just a tad over 1.0 feet. All in all a good early winter week for fishing as our island population increases as we near the holidays.
BACKWATER: Think the big question back here this week is “How will the cold water species react to the temperature warm up ?”. Those chilly temperatures last week excited the sheepshead, black drum, whiting, silver trout into anticipated cool water conditions and now the air temperatures kick back up. Good chance that will slow their activity and feeding. Suggest, if you are targeting them, that you work the deeper water spots along the river and connecting waterways where the water is naturally cooler. Find one of those spots along the Marco River / Collier Creek where the water depth approaches 20 feet and you may find some lunkers. Elsewhere it will be hit and miss……..lots of undersized fish with an occasional take home. There is bait in the Passes and should be drawing some mackerel this time of year but reports show the action is slow. Best approach in Capri / Caxambas Pass might be to troll a tipped jig or spoon at 4-5 kts where you see surface gull or surface bait action. Stay off the bottom…..there are legions of catfish just waiting for anything. If you want to wander into the deep backcountry, there is opportunity for action along the edges and bays of Addison. Still some nice size snapper available and probably more take-home size sheepshead here than the open waters. Sheepshead are “stealers” so you want to use small baits and employ a soft lift technique that will get them to hit the moving bait and allow you to set hook into your retrieve.
NEARSHORE: Better seasonal conditions here and generally a little cooler water. Probable chance that as the backwater warms this week the cold water fish will find food and refuge in the deeper / cooler waters of the first and second reef spots. A little chum will help if your target is lane and mangrove snapper……followed by shrimp either on a lindy rig or weighted jig. Other species that may jump at that opportunity are triggerfish, flounder and trout. There is also opportunity for sheepshead out here on the Walton and Five Mile Reefs working a vertical drop with a tad of shrimp or cut crab tight to the bottom, again, with a soft lift. Would think a good chance at more keeper sheephead out here now.
OFFSHORE: Sea conditions should be fine out here with just a couple afternoons when it may get a little bouncy. The pelagics, save a few kingfish, have high tailed it to the winter grounds in the Keys. If you are working a deeper wreck that is showing bait schools on the fishfinder, there is still a chance for kings. Take a chance at set a live bait on wire leader at 10-15’ depth under a float in a good chum effort……you never know! Some good reports in the flat sea conditions of sighting tripletail hugging the stone crab trap markers. On your way out and back, set a lookout and if sighted, double back, cut engines and work the marker and connecting line with a tipped jig or even a freelined shrimp. Tripletail are one of the best on the table.