October 13th to October 19 2017 Fishing Report
CONDITIONS: We’re beginning to see the light at the other end of the tunnel………unforgettably named IRMA. Landside conditions are still rough with a gazillion places under repair or in search of a contractor but, waterside, things are looking up. Now mind you, we still have the weather conditions that either plague or please us right in our face every day but those IRMA residuals of floating submerged debris, completely fouled water and water depth surprises are fading quickly. So on we go…..this coming week looks very typical early fall weather. It’s hard not to notice and luxuriate in the cool morning temperatures now with mornings showing up carrying a mid 70’s label but that never last – by mid morning you’re all lathered up in the humidity. Fishing goes right along with that….get that really early start and the fish are furiously feeding and as the sun reaches those mid-morning vertical penetrating rays they pull off for a morning nap. We’ll have those 70 degree starts all this coming week. The winds stay reasonable with lots of single digit blows that are mostly easterly (favorable) until late week and then get a quasi front through here and things kick up to the 20 knot variety but doesn’t last long. The tides are heading to a moderate new moon at week end – those mid morning incoming tides are a perfect compliment. And finally, look for the water temps to keep dipping just a tad at a time and we should be close to the high 70’s by week end.
BACKWATER: As conditions normalize you have to realize that you’re right in the middle of the best fishing of the year here in the widespread backwaters of Southwest Florida. The two top contenders for top species……snook and redfish are at their prime. The redfish all perked up following their spawning period and the snook storing up food for their winter solstice. We’ll take ‘em one at a time. The redfish are active as the water comes off superheat and are feeding heavily. Best spots to land one of these challenging fighters would be Rookery Bay’s Henderson Creek area working the last part of the incoming tide with a freelined shrimp strung under a popper. Same approach up at the top of Addison Bay in the cuts created by the oyster / clam farming efforts years back. They will be working the shallow edges and foraging along the mud bottoms late on that incoming. Snook will be in an entirely different domain. On that morning incoming work the current edges out in all three Passes using live bait (pilchards, pinfish, thread herring) freelined tight to current points. Once the current starts out get positioned on a creek / channel exit point and get your bait down just off the bottom. Both species are harvestable (redfish 18”27”) (snook 28”-33”) right now and are well worth the effort.
NEARSHORE: With the wind predicted mild this week, should have good sea surface conditions and clean water out here. Good chance that the pelagic bait schools (mackerel, bluefish, et al ) now see things normalized and will be on the feed. Would run in 20-25’ water along the first and second reef spots with the fishfinder on high power……find the balls of bait and the pelagic feeders will sure be there. Get some chum in the water as you anchor up and work tipped top water jigs up near the surface on a swift retrieve. You’ll want to slip a wire leader in front of the jig for both of those toothy species. Bottom action out here could best be found on the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass; the legendary Five. Mile Reef SW of the island or the John Dee wreck due west at 4.5 miles. Here you’ll have a ball with action on nice size lane and mangrove snapper as well as some small grouper. All on weighted jigs under chum.
OFFSHORE: Can expect even cleaner water and nice flat conditions until late week. Reports of some nice red grouper catches in 60+’ hard bottom due west of Capri Pass indicate the “herd” has started moving east in reaction to the falling water temperatures. You’ll want to work a live pinfish or cut ladyfish tight to the hard bottom on a tidal drift. Red grouper have a minimum harvest size of 20” and the limit is two per person daily. There will also be gag grouper in the mix and they can be worked just off the bottom or on a troll with a large jointed plug pulled 8-10’ off the bottom. Gags have a minimum harvest size of 24”. Conditions should be just about right for grouper action out here this week.
Capt Bill Walsh-Dawn Patrol