Naples Fishing December 2012
Fishing report: Warmer weather has snook confused, anglers happy
By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted December 13, 2012
We have been enjoying summer like weather for the past week and water temperatures have climbed back up to the lower 70s. Snook are somewhat confused since the cool weather previously had started them on their trip to the extreme backcountry and creeks. This week a lot of snook were caught in and around the passes and even on the beach. Reds, sheepshead, black drum, flounder, and trout are all around for anglers. Bait is on the beaches and in the bays making for plenty of food for all these fish. I even ended up with a couple of nice shrimp in my cast net one early morning.
Offshorethe lighter winds of the past week made it easier for anglers to get further offshore where the better sized grouper are to be found. In addition to the grouper the amberjacks are on the offshore wrecks and quite willing to gobble up a nice sized live bait. Closer to shore the schoolie sized king mackerel are here. Try a free lined live pilchard behind the boat or troll some plugs over likely bottom.
Closer to shore there are plenty of Spanish mackerel to be had and some are really nice sized fish. If you get out early in the morning on a relatively calm morning just look for the birds, but don't go zooming into the fish because the sound of a 300 horsepower engine is not music to their ears (do fish have ears?). Idle in or better yet line up with the wind/current and just float in.
A regulatory note: A proposed season for gag grouper for 2013 passed a recent vote by the Fishery Council unanimously. The season would start on July 1 and continue until the yearly quota had been reached, which will probably be in November or early December. A final vote (hopefully for approval) will take place after the first of the year.
Fishing has ranged from very good to great in the Naples area according to Capt. Tim Daugherty. The trout bite has been especially good, with virtually all the fish being legal size up to 23 inches. They are being found in many areas and depending on water depth Tim is using a bait under a popping cork or a bait on the bottom in deeper water. Some nice reds are mixed in with the trout. The snook bite certainly picked up too. Most of the fish were in the 22 to 24 inch range, but several encounter with big fish made for some exciting moments. Up to 30 snook per day have been common recently. A few pompano are around and they are good sized fish, up to three pounds. A white or yellow jig tipped with a piece of shrimp will do the job.
Capt. Michael Avinon has taken advantage of the nice weather to make several all day trips offshore. On these trips they are pulling in red grouper keepers to 30 inches and averaging 12 to 15 keepers per trip. He has also been nailing the schoolie sized king mackerel in the 12 to 15 mile waters. On Mondays trip he had five anglers and they put 15 keeper reds in the box by 12:30 and then they went looking for amberjacks. Using live blue runners they limited on amberjacks to 45 pounds. To finish the trip they hit the kings and caught them up to 12 pounds. The grouper were caught using cut squid and herring.
Ten Thousand Islands
Incoming tides have been good to Capt. Pete Rapps recently, but the outgoing ones have been challenging. With water temperatures in the 68 to 70 degree range the fish have been active. Some of the catches of note on recent trips have been: Nathaniel Kantor (age 5) landing a perfect tournament red that measured 26 7/8 inches, Norton Small with a 40 inch snook, and Alisa Aczel and her 30 inch red.
One trip resulted in 16 reds in just two hours and the trout fishing has been really good. Snook are also showing up on most trips. As is the case this time of year Capt. Pete has also been netting black drum, sheepshead, barracuda, and flounder. He has been using both shrimp and live pilchards.
State agency rejects later grouper-catching season in Southwest Florida
By ERIC STAATS Posted December 6, 2012
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted Wednesday in Apalachicola to reject a proposal to allow Southwest Florida anglers to allow gag grouper catches further into the winter tourist season, when more gag are swimming closer to shore.
Instead, the FWC voted to move forward with a Southwest Florida season that starts July 1 and runs until the annual catch limit is reached. Farther north along the Gulf Coast in the four Big Bend counties, the gag grouper season would run from April 1 to June 30. A final vote is set for February in Orlando.
The catch limit likely would be reached between Nov. 11 and Dec. 3, according to agency figures, but local captains pushed for a gag grouper season that would run from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31
Fishing Report: Winds making things bumpy out there
By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted December 5, 2012 at 9:10 a.m.
NAPLES — A consistent easterly wind of 15 to 20 mph has been blowing for the past five days or so, and it has made for some skinny water in the bays for morning anglers.
Water temperatures are generally in the low 60s in the morning, and rising to the mid- to upper-60s in the afternoon. Water quality is generally pretty good on the east banks of islands and shoreline. I have heard that there is still some red tide in the area, and the latest occurrence was down in Naples.
As the temperatures continue to cool, we will see the inshore fishing change to "winter" conditions. While fish are still hitting live pilchards, live shrimp are picking up more and more bites. At some point, even a snook will prefer to eat a shrimp. Reds are eating shrimp and cut bait right now. Trout love a live shrimp on a jig fished in the deep cuts or on a light jig suspended under a popping cork and drifted over the grass. We have seen more of the small sheepshead stealing shrimp this week, and even a few black drum have been reported.
For you offshore anglers, the kings are over hard bottom, around the ledges, and the big ones are lurking around the wrecks. I have seen king mackerel eat everything from cut sardines to any large live bait. As mentioned in previous articles, when bottom fishing, have a live bait (or big live shrimp) off the back of the boat under a float. Be sure to keep the drag light so that the fish doesn't pull off during the first screaming run.
Naples/Estero Bay: This week I have fished in the Estero Bay and Wiggins Pass areas, and fishing has been reasonably good. Live pilchards scored 15 to 20 snook each trip, with most of them being on the small size.
The largest fish were in the 26- to 27-inch range. Most of the reds this week were shorts around 16 inches, but we did get a couple of keepers. Trout up to 18 inches were found on incoming tide where deeper water transitioned onto a flat. Shrimp on a jig did the trick. The occasional flounder hit the same offerings. Tides were not great, but once some water came in and you could fish the east side of the bay, you found much better conditions.
Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Rob Walczak fished on Thursday with his father, Lester, to celebrate his 75th birthday. Rob headed south down toward Lostmans, where they found a bunch of big specs.
The fish ranged to 20 inches and were taken on jigs. Lester and Rob also boated about 20 reds with the largest hitting 25 inches. Friend Josh Limback was also along for the trip, and they also got a pompano and a flounder. Water was cool at 62 degrees.
Saturday, Walczak fished out of Goodland with a group, and they hit the trout hard. Using jigs, they got specs to 17 inches and silver trout to 16 inches in water that was 65 degrees. In the very low water, they also caught several other species of fish.
Offshore: Capt. Mike Lucas of the "Cuda" reports that king mackerel are scattered over hard bottom and range from 8 to 12 pounds. He found some bigger kings around the wrecks, and they are hitting large live baits. The red grouper found close to shore are mostly shorts to 16 inches, but an occasional keeper shows up.
Capt. Bob Fisher ran out about 15 miles on Saturday onboard the "Sea Spirit" for a three-quarter-day trip. Onboard was Mark and friends, and they trolled part of the way out resulting in eight kings on the boat. After that, Capt. Bob made three drops, resulting in one keeper red grouper of 24 inches, lots of nice-sized lane snapper, and 28 mangrove snapper to 17 inches, as well as short reds, and grunts. Bob used live pilchards for bait.
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