January 15, 2016 – January 21, 2016
Winter is here….in a modified version with chilly overnights and warming days which should continue through this week. Add to that some hellacious frontal wind over this weekend and we’ll have tough fishing conditions. If there is a good side to those factors it will be that the water temperatures will continue to decline and, hopefully, finally trigger our winter species to take action. Look for the water temperature to range between 65 and 67 by week end and then hold there and stabilize the conditions for the fishery. Some of the tough winds over the weekend will gust to 30 knots and most will be out of the west. Look for fouled (muddy) water especially on the incoming tides….and avoid it. The tides are moderate with a weak morning outgoing and a stronger PM incoming. Overall……weather conditions will stir things up this week.
Good chance we will see the first run of mega spawning sheepshead in the Passes and along the Marco River and connecting waterways this week. Their usual haunts will be in amongst the barnacle laden pilings in deeper holes with bottom structure. Best baits are a small piece of fresh shrimp or fiddler crab worked right on the bottom with a soft lift technique (bait to bottom….slow lift 5-6 inches to move bait across the bottom…..repeat…..when tip of rod bends…..set with a compact pull). Cool down should also excite the seatrout action in close in places like the ICW up along the edges of Calhoun Channel; the north end of Canon Island south of ICW marker red #28 and between the docks on Keeywadin Island across from the Naples Boat Club Facility. Take trout on whole shrimp under a popper or on artificial touts. Snook action will slow dramatically but you may see an occasional juvenile. Redfish action will improve and you’ll see more individual fish (not schooled up). Work far reach mangrove edges in the last hour of incoming tides with freelined shrimp. Action on the ever-popular whiting and silver trout will kick in working small tipped jigs off the beaches or in the deeper holes along the various waterways.
Forecasted sea conditions will be tough over the weekend. Should improve mid week forward. Pelagic action continues to hold on bait schools in 30-40′ depths. Mackerel, bluefish, small kings on bottom structure can be worked with tipped top water jigs worked over chum in good tidal current. Bottom action should also begin to show the arrival of the bigger spawning sheepshead in places like the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass; the northwest and southeast corners of the Five Mile Reef Complex and the various Capri Pass barges. Sheepshead on shrimp / crabs as explained in this week’s Backwater Section. With the lingering warmth of the SW Florida coast, good chance there are some major pelagics still heading south to the Keys……so keep a live blue runner or threadfin herring out in the running current. Still a chance for a cobia or kingfish to come along and surprise.
Marginal sea conditions out here this week. Be careful. But if you do get out you’ll find continued hot action on red grouper. Now, with the chill down, the Reds will move to the warmth. Warmer water is deeper water……so good chance they have slid west to 50′ of water over hard bottom at about 9-11 miles offshore (federal waters) which has reopened for harvest of reds effective 1/1/2016. Harvest size is 20″O and the bag limit is 2 per person. Work the Reds with live pinfish or cut ladyfish tight to the outcroppings in the hard bottom at anchor or on a drift. Bottom fishing can also produce sheepshead, lane snapper and triggerfish this time of year on weighted tipped jigs.