Naples Fishing August 2011


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Mark Goddard landed this blacktip shark while fishing with mullet off Big Carlos Pass

Fishing Report: Snook becoming active right near the beaches

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted August 24, 201.

NAPLES — If you are an inshore fisherman looking to catch a bunch of snook, be sure to hit the beaches, especially if you have a fairly sunny day.

Snook are cruising right in the trough, with some of them close enough to the beach that they need a towel and umbrella. Toss a bait out in front of them, and the odds are that a hook-up is in your immediate future. On Monday, we were tossing pinfish to them, and with nowhere to hide, the pins were easy pickings for the linesiders.

Should your inshore interests lean more to reds, then try either some cut bait or a live shrimp on the bottom around the mangroves.

Reds are coming in all sizes now, with a new year class of 10- to 12-inch little guys showing up on a regular basis. Last year's small reds have now matured into lower- and mid-slot fish, and can be found around points, oyster bars, and yes, in the mangroves. Smaller pilchards seem to work well too.

If you have an unlimited supply of shrimp, you might want to try some inshore snapper fishing. While most of the fish are a tad on the small size, the action is great. And you never know which spot will hold a dozen or so of the larger, dinner-sized fish.

Offshore, it seems as though there are some larger fish moving in closer. Reports of keeper grouper being caught in the 7- to 14-mile range are increasing. Of course, for now all the keepers have to be red grouper, but opening day for gags is getting closer.

Live pins or cut bait continue to do the trick. Some better snapper and the ever-popular goliath grouper are being reported on a regular basis. Schools of bait are becoming more prevalent, and with the bait come the Spanish mackerel, jacks, ladyfish and other predators. Water quality offshore remains very good, too.

Ten Thousand Islands: Gene Starr, grandson Max, and his friend Jason fished out of Goodland on Sunday with Capt. Rob Walczak. They had one of the better snook catches reported recently, with about 30 boated.

The catch of the day was a 32-incher caught by Max. The group also managed seven reds in the 15- to 23-inch range, a couple of jacks, and 15 keeper snapper for dinner. Live pilchards were used for bait.

Capt. Shane Miller says fishing is pretty good down in the Islands. The live bait situation has improved recently, and he is using the pilchards to hammer the reds. Shane is fishing as far south as Pavilion Key and north to Caxambas Pass, and the reds are everywhere. He has also been jumping some small tarpon on plugs around the creeks in the mornings. Some decent-sized trout are being caught on the outside, and this action should get better as the bait run improves.

Naples/Estero: Capt. Steve Nagy has been fishing Estero this past week with some decent results. Lots of reds are being caught using cut bait or shrimp.

On a recent trip with Susannah and Nigel Bogaerts, it was Susannah who stole the day, with a snook of 33 inches and a red of 24. Steve also reports that trout are showing up on the deeper grass flats, and he has been using a small jig with a Glow Hybrid Flurry suspended under a Cajun Thunder float with good success. Snook have been all over the beaches, and will take a live bait or shrimp.

Lots of small snook and reds have been the order of business for Capt. Steve Sabara. Using shrimp, he has been finding reds as small as 12 inches, and all the way up to 30-inch over-sized critters. Snapper have been all over the place, too. The only problem is feeding the tiny ones while looking for the keepers.

Once you find a pod of good-sized fish, you can easily limit out. Steve reports that the water is fairly clean at the top of the tide, but dirty close to the bottom of outgoing.

Offshore: Sometime-contributor Charles Haskell recently came by a couple of new numbers, and decided to make a run on Tuesday.

Along with fishing buddy Alex, they headed out into the Gulf, and made it to the first of two spots. Using live and cut bait, they ended up with six keeper reds landed (and most released). The keepers ranged from 21 inches, to three at 24 inches. Other small grouper were also caught and released.

Capt. Mike Avinon, onboard his brand new boat "Findictive," ran his first trip on Monday.

Running out to about 14 miles from the beach, they caught about 40 grouper with six of them being keepers. Battle of the day went to the angler who conquered a 250-pound goliath grouper. Mike says that the water offshore is absolutely beautiful. He is seeing some bait activity on top, and some feeding Spanish mackerel.

If you have a report to share, send it to

Fishing Report: Take A Soldier Fishing event coming up

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted August 17, 2011

NAPLES — First on this week's agenda is some information about a local fishing event. Last year, a couple of local guides put together a "Take a Soldier Fishing" weekend for some of the young people who have put everything on the line for our country.

As a way to say thank you, Steve Lloyd and Andy Werner got a number of guides to agree to take this group out for a day of fishing. Local businesses contributed everything from transportation to food and lodging. It was a great success, and more than one person got a lump in their throats or a tear in their eye.

In a little over a month there will be a second annual "Take a Soldier Fishing" outing, and it is looking to be bigger and better than last year. Upwards of 80 servicemen and women will enjoy a great fishing weekend. If you want to help in any way, call Jamie Lloyd at 289-1971.

Now about the fishing.

Offshore, the grouper are still around, but they aren't the only game in town. Out around the wrecks, there is starting to be quite a buildup of bait, and with all that food around, you can be sure the Spanish mackerel and sharks are going to get into the act.

Most of the sharks are in the three-foot range, but don't be surprised if Jaws pops up along the boat. Barracuda are also looking to eat any sizable fish that they can catch, and the ones on the end of your line are a whole lot easier to get. While the water close to shore is somewhat dirty from all the wind generated by the thunderstorms, once you get out a ways, the water is beautiful.

For those of you that prefer the inshore program, there is plenty out there that will put a bend in your rod.

Live bait continues to be difficult to get, and usually requires chumming, but as of Saturday, I saw some schools of bait about 400 to 500 yards off the beaches.

At first glance, they looked to be all small glass minnows, but just below were decent-sized pilchards. Shrimp have been doing a good job for anglers, too. Reds are taking the crustaceans hanging below a popping cork, and on a jig as well. We are seeing a second year class of smaller fish, and last year's little guys that are now in the 21- to 22-inch range.

With any luck, last year's good redfishing will continue on into 2012. Snapper, flounder, and the occasional trout are showing up on hooks, but snook are around in good numbers, and are the target for many anglers. Lots of little ones, but the occasional monster is making an appearance, too.

Naples/Estero Bay: On a recent trip, Capt. Chick Burke took out a trio consisting of Tony Durante, Paul and son Paulie Durante for a half day on Estero Bay.

Using shrimp under a popping cork, they caught a variety of species, including snook, snapper, and flounder, but it was 13-year-old Paulie who was the star of the day. He hooked and landed a monster, 23-pound, 43-inch snook! Great job. He later followed that up with a fight between himself and a nice bull shark. Even though the shark won that contest, it was Paulie who "kicked butt" and caught most of the fish on that trip.

Saturday, I fished an incoming tide with Mike Humke of Elmgrove, La., and Tony and wife Sharon Swift. After doing the chum thing for bait, I picked them up and found out that Sharon had major surgery earlier in the week, and this was her first outing. Well, she did great.

Among the three, they landed 18 snook, and Sharon got the biggest. A red, a flounder, and a snapper rounded out about three hours of fishing. We might have missed a few, too. Mike was using his bass set at times, and that just didn't work too well.

Ten Thousand Islands: Reds are real good, states Capt. Glen Puopolo. Fishing out of Everglades City, Glen has been netting finger mullet, and fishing around the outer islands on the incoming tides. Even in the off-color water, the reds are finding the mullet, and then the fight is on. Recently, Glen had John Plocharczk on board, and they landed reds in the 18- to 26-inch range, as well as a couple of snook and trout.

Capt. Jeff Legutki has been using his own version of the Perfect Popper flies, and he has been nailing the fish. On Sunday, he had Jeff and Jim McClure from Dallas out for a day throwing the fly, and they managed to complete a grand slam, landing a tarpon, redfish, snook, and trout, all on the poppers. Then on Tuesday, while out on a busman's holiday, he and Capt. Bill Faulkner landed a 50- and 70-pound tarpon.

Offshore: Capt. Mike Lucas, onboard the "Cuda," has been doing half-day trips recently, and the other day he took a family from Switzerland out for some fishing.

Lots of grouper were ready to bend their rods, and three of them ended up as keepers in the ice box. Spanish mackerel were chasing baits on top, and taking cut baits down deeper. Mike says that the water is nice offshore even if you have to dodge a storm or two.

On Tuesday, Capt. Bob Fisher ran a half-day trip out to about 55 feet of water, where there was a lot of action. Onboard the "Sea Spirit" was the Pat Hanley group, and they enjoyed catching quite a few grouper that included a scatter of gags, as well as the reds. Three made legal length, and went home to dinner. Bob also enjoyed the mackerel action. He states that there is a lot of bait offshore, and the water is beautiful.

If you have a report to share, send it to

Fishing Report: Shrimp the bait of choice by necessity

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted August 10, 2011

NAPLES — It's a good thing that the fishing hasn't been as volatile as the stock market recently or this report might only be one or two sentences long.

Another thing is that fishing is a lot less stressful than watching your 401k disappear. If you have been courageous enough to get out on the water in between the numerous thunderstorms we have had of late, you probably caught some fish.

Bait for the inshore anglers still is a challenge, and a lot of folks are heading to the bait shops to load up on shrimp, which they are using in a variety of methods to bring excitement to their fishing day.

Some of the guys are using shrimp under a popping cork or a noisy, rattling-type float -- think Cajun Thunder. Toss one of these get-ups around the bushes during the high incoming water, and you are likely to get a bite. Snook, reds, and snapper have been providing a decent amount of activity for anglers using this technique.

Others are tipping bucktail jigs and working those jigs around the bushes, cuts, and bars. Interestingly, a lot of the action has moved from the passes and beaches into the back bays. Try working the bars around the mouths of creeks and rivers if the water is moving. Another species that likes our rainy summers is the tarpon -- little ones. While you are working the above stated areas, keep an eye open for a rolling silverside or two.

Red grouper continue to be the key target for most of the offshore boats. Running a ways offshore before making a drop seems to increase the likelihood of a keeper, but an occasional large fish can be had closer in.

Along with the grouper, there are schools of Spanish mackerel and bonita on the surface, and if you happen to get close enough, some great action is in store. Of course, the goliath grouper and sharks are around to provide the big part of the big game fish. Sharks large enough to wish you were on a bigger boat can be seen gliding through the water, and lurking below are goliath grouper the size of small cars.

Naples/Estero Bay: Fishing out of Naples last week, Capt. Pat Gould put together a decent day of fishing for a group of four anglers.

Bait was tough, but Pat persevered and, after enough was in the well, they hit the mangrove snapper. Using the small baits that are around now, the snapper just ate them up. Snook liked them, too, and quite a few were landed, plus a redfish and a flounder. Some monster jacks made the end of the trip even more memorable, and six in the 10- to 12-pound range were boated.

On a day off, Capt. Pat took his fly rod out for a couple hours of "buggy whipping" and did quite well, landing numerous snook. He was using a small white streamer fly he calls a "DT." Most of the fish came while fishing the end of low tide in the back bays.

Up in the Estero Bay area, Capt. Shawn Davis has been working the redfish hard recently. He has his anglers throwing a popping cork with a shrimp hanging under it. Fishing around the bushes on the high incoming tide has been working well.

On a recent trip, Shawn put six keepers and a bunch of smaller reds in the boat, as well as 10-12 snook in the 20- to 27-inch range. He has been chumming for bait on the grass flats.

Ten Thousand Islands: While fishing with a fellow from England on Saturday, Capt. Bill Jones reports they landed 26 reds by using a Cajun Thunder/shrimp combo to get the fish excited. A half-dozen were in the upper-slot range, with most of the rest in the 20- to 22-inch range.

A shark trip that started on Monday (lightning cut it short) and finished on Tuesday saw Terry Walsh from Columbus, Ohio, get worn out on sharp-toothed critters. A total of five sharks were landed, with most being blacktips, and four spinner sharks did their own form of catch and release. For those of you who have never seen one of these things come out of the water, they make flipper look like an amateur.

Lots of reds, says Capt. Aron Blaisdale who is fishing out of Goodland. He has been doing well on them while fishing the back bays with small finger mullet. Most of the fish are in the 20- to-23 inch range, with a few in the 30- to 32-inch class.

Aron has also been getting out at first light and finding rolling tarpon. Using mostly cut bait, he has been tangling with fish in the 50- to 100-pound class. On one trip, Pete Broqoli tossed a 9-inch live mullet out to a rolling fish, and was quickly hooked up. The result was a nice, 80-pound fish landed for Pete, his first ever.

Offshore: Capt. Kevin Condon and first mate Kim of the "Sea Hooker" had a full day scheduled for Jess, Marie, and Pul Fedale, along with friend Jeff, but the early morning storms delayed the start of the trip until noon.

The Rhode Islanders were game for a shortened trip, and off they went. Staying relatively close to shore, they enjoyed a lot of action on short grouper, snapper, and mackerel. A 40-pound king provided some great action, but that was quickly overshadowed by a battle with a 100-pound goliath and a 9-foot shark. The tired anglers used squid for bait on all the fish.

Onboard the "Sea Legs," Capt. Tom Robinson took Bruce Bennett and group out for a three-quarter day on the water.

Using squid and some pinfish for bait, they were able to limit out with nice red grouper up to 26 inches. Lots of short grouper and one real nice gag grouper also were landed. For real exercise, Capt. Tom put the group on top of some hefty goliath grouper, and they managed to get two to the boat, a 60- and a 150-pounder. Tom says that the water offshore continues to be real nice and clear, and that there are lots of mackerel and bonita chasing baits on the surface.

If you have a report to share, send it to

Fishing Report: Redfish action strong in Naples

By LARRY REGIENCZUKPosted August 3, 2011

NAPLES — With us being smack dab in the middle of rainy season, you would expect that a lot of the water in the bays to be real dirty and somewhat fresh. In many areas, that just isn't the case.

On Tuesday morning at the end of outgoing tide, Estero was very clear, and I am hearing similar reports from other captains. Even offshore, the water is real nice, even with the higher winds associated with the thunderstorms.

On the inshore front, we continue with typical summer fishing. Bait is difficult to come by, and many are resorting to chumming the flats, which can cover your boat in more crap and critters than you can imagine. If you end up with decent baits, it's worth it (I think).

For many anglers, the alternative is to use shrimp and/or artificials to coax a bite, and in some cases, they are doing quite well. Reds down in the Islands seem to be responding to these techniques quite well. Snook are around in good numbers, but it seems that there are proportionately a lot more "snooklets" on the hook than we had just a week or so ago. Mixed in with the dinks are a few nice mamas, and some of these girls are over 40 inches.

An interesting report on redfish from Naples. It appears that we have another good class of redfish beginning to prowl areas waters. A fair number of rat reds in the 12- to 14-inch range are turning up on hooks. This happened last year, and turned into great fishing all winter and well into the spring. Let's hope this is a repeat.

Sharks can be found prowling the grass flats in search of a tasty morsel, and some of these things are in the six- to seven-foot range. A chunk of ladyfish or mullet can turn into a great battle for the hardy angler. This is also a good reason not to dangle your feet in the water while fishing.

Mangrove snapper are doing their annual thing, and showing up just about everywhere. Most of the ones you hook up on are small, but if you are persistent, a tasty dinner could be in your future. Shrimp on a hook or a small beach pilchard will do the trick.

Offshore, it is red grouper, red grouper, red grouper. Yes, there are some other things swimming in the water out there, but the grouper are the key target this time of year.

Every once in a while, someone is running into a small school of kings, and there are the big barracuda that are prowling offshore areas.

If you haven't ever tried catching one, a three- to four-foot snaggle toothed barracuda can be a blast. They love a live fish, and will often hit it and eat the half without the hook, but don't pull your bait in just yet. Let it free line, and quite frequently they will return for the other half of their meal. Be real careful when you get one of these things to the boat. They can easily leap into a boat, and when they do that it is with all their dentures looking to bite something.

Offshore: Capt. Kevin Condon took out a group recently on two consecutive days. Earl Skinner and group (from Pittsburgh and Atlanta) first ventured out on a three-quarter day aboard the "Sea Hooker," and they caught quite a few grouper, including several keepers up to 26 inches. A 20-pound king mackerel, some snapper, and even a bonita made it to the boat.

The big haul of the day, after a lot of sweat and maybe a couple of tears, was a 150-pound goliath grouper. On Day 2, only a couple of the group showed up. Again, they landed grouper to 24 inches, mangrove snapper, Spanish mackerel, and even barracuda. A combination of live and cut bait was used, and the water was reported as clean.

Onboard the "Sea Legs," Capt. Tom Robinson has been running a number of half-day trips recently. The bite has been good, and the anglers kept busy with a variety of species including: grouper (25 to 30 per trip), lane snapper, grunts, jumbo ladyfish, and goliath grouper. On Sunday, three keeper grouper in the 24- to 26-inch range went home for dinner, and on Tuesday, two 24-inchers went in the box.

Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Rob Walczak says that the fishing down in the islands has been pretty good. With the scarcity of live bait, he has been throwing artificials on most days and doing well.

A lot of reds are falling for this technique, and most are in the 18- to 22-inch range (last summer's rat reds!), with an occasional oversized fish in the mix. Nice snapper up to 15 inches and some snook are rounding out the catches. On Tuesday, Chris Cobin and James Sellers got into reds and snook, with the catch of the day being an 15-pounder caught by Chris.

Farther south, Capt. Brandon Acosta has been targeting trout south of the Everglades City area. Using shrimp under a cork or a Gulp shrimp, Brandon has been consistently nailing trout in the 17- to 19-inch range.

While most of the trout are being caught on the grass flats, Brandon is getting some larger fish around the river mouths. Reds are also biting well for Acosta, with a group of four guys on Saturday landing 23 reds in about an hour and a half, with keepers for all anglers. Brandon reports the the water is fairly dirty, but that doesn't seem to hurt the fishing.

Naples/ Estero Bay: Capt. Seth Hayes has been chumming the flats for bait, and after loading his wells, he has been doing well on snook.

While fishing an outgoing tide on Saturday, they caught quite a few snook and lost a 40-inch fish near the boat. Most of the fish caught were on the small side. On Thursday of last week, Seth took out three guys (Patrick, George and Eldon) and while the snook fishing was slower, a nice 31-inch fish was landed, as well as a bunch of reds. Included in the catch were three slot fish and one oversized.

Down in Naples, Capt. Steve Sabara had been working the reds, too. The best time on recent trips has been around the bushes on the lower tides. Steve has been using live shrimp on a popping cork or with a small split shot on the line. A lot of the reds have been in the 13- to 14-inch range, with slot fish scattered in.

Some smaller snook and keeper snapper have been rounding out the catch. With the water very warm -- in the upper 80s -- the early bite is best.

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How to Find a Guide

Shorten the Learning Curve - Save Money & Time -
More Productive Fishing - all good reasons. Here's one more....

(excerpt from Secrets from Florida's Master Anglers)

Do a little research before booking a guide.

Friends and acquaintances are good sources for recommendations, but if none are available for your intended destination, use the internet.

Most professional guides maintain web sites that can be found by Googling the location you want to fish. Organizations such as the Florida Guides Association ( are also good sources.

"These organizations," says Capt. Tom Van Horn, "hold their members to high standards. Members are required to provide their legitimacy annually."

Proof of a Coast Guard captain’s license, a state issued vessel license that covers all anglers on the boat, marine insurance that includes liability coverage and adherence to a stated code of ethics are some of the things to look for in a qualified guide.

You can email the captain and ask questions before you book.
Why Hire a Guide?

Now here's your part.

These are just a few of the responses given to Ron when he asked top guides "What do you expect from a client on a charter fishing trip?"

Guide #1: Guests should recognize that not every day will be full of fish and aim to share a fun day on the water.

Guide #2: I value clients who discuss their experience and level of fishing skills before the trip. Let me know if inexperienced anglers, small children or special needs persons will be accompanying them. This assists me in planning the strategy for the day.

Guide #3: Patience and willingness to listen is the best virtue of a prospective client. I want to accommodate them in every way. Their willingness to trust me and follow instructions will normally improve the day’s productivity.

Guide #4: I really appreciate it when my clients show up on time and are prepared to deal with the weather and willing to listen and learn.

I expect them to stay sober...
Read 'the rest of the story,
' in "Secrets from Florida's Master Anglers."

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