October 19th 2018 Fishing Report
CONDITIONS: Have to feel extremely sorry for the folks in those towns lining the Panhandle Coast. MICHAEL ended up as a “right angle hurricane” when the 140 mph winds roared directly in at them. Much different than the glancing blow we got from IRMA. Donate if you can to the organizations hard at work trying to help put lives back together. There was some question here as to what effect MICHAEL might have on our water quality and fishing here. I think NONE…..the distance is far too great and the forward speed too great which had it battering Georgia and Alabama within hours. We did have some spotty heavy rain here for periods that late week, but am told it did not trigger a massive release from Lake O……we’ll see ??? Our outlook this week looks promising with a gentle cool down in air temperatures which should start the early fall water temperature cool down……could see water temps dip below 80 this week. Elsewhere, we are forecasted to see a week of infrequent afternoon rain and winds dominant from the NE and SE with moderate speeds until the very end of the period. Tides will be passing through a full moon late week and have fairly balanced ebb and flood tides that should be productive both ways.
BACKWATER: Conditions should drive some good to very good fishing in the backwaters in and around Marco this week. As previously stated in prior week’s issues, there is mounting evidence that the red tide and algae intrusion up around Sanibel and Fort Myers Beach has driven the fish and the bait south along the coast. At least thus far in the run out of actual experiences, folks here are seeing a big difference in fishing action and, surprisingly, the addition of some rarely seen species showing up here in significant size and numbers. Best example of that is that we are seeing BIG flounder showing along the waterways (Rookery Bay, Hurricane Pass, Johnson Bay) mainly on the stronger periods of the incoming tide and taking a hunk of shrimp worked and bounced across the bottom. Had two reports of “flatties” in excess of 25”. In another anomaly …….there must be thousands of suspected hatchery produced undersized redfish working in large schools over shallower Bays along the ICW……several reports of catching (and releasing) 15” reds one after the other when you luck into a feeding school. All of that plus reported very good action on pompano in Hurricane and Capri Pass that has sustained bites over multiple hours. So where ever your favorite “honey hole” is don’t waste any time getting there this week……..who knows how along the bonanza will last.
NEARSHORE: First comment is that sea conditions, both sea surface and tidal flow should be excellent this week. The fishing here can be classified as good here but somewhat diminished as to what we’ve shared with you regarding the backwater. Still lots of topwater bait schools out here that are quick to attract pelagics i.e. mackerel, bluefish, a few little Tunney and scads of jacks and blue runners. With working tipped flashy jigs on wire leader into a chum slick can wear you out. Will be some take homes but most will be releasable jacks and runners. Deep action on the named reefs will be the best chance for a full “stringer”. Look to find snapper, some wandering mackerel and maybe even a small kingfish up top and the, old favorite, lane and mangrove snapper deep on weighted jigs under chum. Could even see some “big stuff” here i.e. grouper, small sharks taking larger cut baits.
OFFSHORE: Reports this week on the first harvest of stone crabs is quite disappointing with one major commercial boat harvesting just 30 lbs of claws after working 450 traps. Kind of suspect that there is still an “issue with re tide and algae deep caused by the dominant east wind pattern and the outflow from MICHAEL. But, there are still some interesting reports of fair to good reef and wreck fishing where there are schools of bait resident with good tidal flow. And this is the time the southbound migration of pelagics kicks in as the water chills……so all could turn around in an instant…….be ready.