Naples Fishing February 2013


Florida Fishing

Naples Pier



Live Shrimp

10,000 Islands

Summer Fishing





Fish On

When to Fish

Where to Fish

Fishing Report: Weather, red tide affecting action and bait

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted February 27, 2013

NAPLES — As I write this, we are experiencing a very strong southwest wind that will be followed by another front that won’t affect air temperature all that much, but the fish are reacting to it.

The good news is that the tides for the next week are much better than we have had in quite a while. The incoming tides in the morning will gain about a half a foot of water over previous weeks’ tides, and that gets the water well up into the bushes and should increase catching opportunities.

Prior to the big blow, we were seeing water temperatures just under 70 degrees, but as of Tuesday, the temps jumped well into the 70s. In fact, on Tuesday, I saw my first tarpon of the season.

Speaking of tarpon, the word is that there are a bunch of them in the Flamingo area, and their northward migration might be somewhat early this year. It all depends on bait availability and water temperatures. If you have been running off the beaches recently, you had to notice the hundreds of pelicans sitting on the water, and that means there must be a good amount of bait in the water.

Inshore, the fishing has been good to very good, depending on where you were fishing. Snook were more active later morning into the afternoon hours as the water warmed. Reds are around, but not as plentiful as this time last year. Lots of good-sized jacks are roaming inshore areas, but they move fast and could pop up anywhere at anytime.

Red tide seems to have had an uptick this last week. Problems have popped up from the Ten Thousand Islands to the Estero area. Many times a well full of frisky live baits turned into a bunch of dead bait in just minutes. This has happened up and down the coast and it certainly has an effect on the catching program.

Offshore, the snapper bite has slowed down, forcing anglers to target amberjacks and king mackerel. The AJs seem to hold well on wrecks that are well offshore, and are a sucker for a nice blue runner or larger pinfish. The kings are closer to shore, about 22-25 miles off the beach. They can be had by drifting a live bait behind the boat or trolling some flashing-type lures behind the boat.

As we approach the first of March, we are enjoying a relatively mild winter with occasional fronts to disrupt things, but overall just think about the poor folks in Minnesota or Michigan.

Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Matt Hoover reports that the fishing had been pretty good until the big blow on Tuesday. He has had anglers nailing large numbers of trout. He has been using live pilchards for bait and the trout, up to 75 per trip, are eating them up.

The size range is from just under legal to about 20 inches. He also has been getting a few reds and snook on each trip. On Tuesday with the major blow well under way, Matt’s anglers boated a nice 30-inch, 10-pound red in the boat, and released as well as a just-under red.

The red tide has been a factor in the Islands this past week, and depending where you were, the bait might die or do well. Among the catch were reds, trout, snook, bluefish, and ladyfish. Matt said the water temperature was up to 78 degrees.

Offshore: The “Findicator,” captained by Michael Avinon, has been running both full- and half-day trips recently. The red tide also has been a factor for the offshore anglers, and Michael reports that blue runners have died even 10 miles offshore.

With the snapper bite a bit on the slow side, he has been targeting king mackerel and amberjacks on most trips. The amberjacks have been ranging from 25 to a huge 55 pounds. King mackerel have ranged from six to 20 pounds, and are hitting live blue runners or thread herring. On the nearshore trips, porgies and grunts have provided a lot of action.

Naples/Estero Bay: From Ken at Master Bait and Tackle, we hear that there have been kings about 26 miles out of New Pass and they are hitting live baits drifted behind the boat.

Inshore, there have been multiple reports of large sheepshead to 25 inches that have eaten shrimp. These fish are found around rock piles just off the beach. Reds and snook are to be found in the backcountry using live bait. There are some keeper triple tails on the crap pot lines, and they just love a nice-sized shrimp. Trout have been spotty, and there are some flounder and big jacks in the bay.

If you have a report to share, email

Fishing Report: Gag grouper 2013 season improved for anglers

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted February 20, 2013

NAPLES — Good new for grouper anglers. The 2013 season for gag grouper has been announced for the state of Florida, and it is an improvement over last year’s. As of July 1, anglers can keep legal-sized gag grouper in state waters, and the season will continue until Dec. 3.

Gags tend to move well offshore during the warm months, and the fact that next fall we will have a shot at gags as the water cools and they move to more accessible waters for local anglers. The federal season has not been announced yet, but it is expected to be similar to the state season.

Well, I was hoping that we could make it through February without a major cold front hitting us, but this past weekend reality came to us in force. Water temperatures dropped around 15 degrees in just a couple of days, and that didn’t help fishing at all.

Before the front the water inshore was in the 70-degree range, and a lot of snook and reds were willing to eat a bait. Large jack crevalle also were in the mix, and in some locations there was a good trout bite. Live bait was readily available offshore and on the beach. Obviously it will take a couple of warm days to get us back on course, but according to the forecast, we can look forward to a good stretch of warm days.

Red tide survived the high winds associated with the cold front, and in some areas is really bad. On Tuesday, I was getting bait offshore, and a lot of it died before I got back into the bay. Down in Naples, it has been even more severe.

Offshore, the wind kicked up the water and actually made for better snapper fishing. Mangrove snappers and lane snappers will receive most of the offshore attention until the end of March when we can resume fishing for red grouper. A lot of nice gags are to be found relatively close to shore, and make for good catch-and-release fishing, but be careful to return all gags safely back into the water.

Ten Thousand Islands: Fishing has been real good, according to Capt. Rob Walczak. Fishing out of Goodland, Walczak has been catching a lot of trout in the 13- to 19-inch range. There are a lot of shorts, but if you work at it, you can come up with a limit for dinner. He has been using a jig tipped with shrimp and, along with the trout, he has been catching black drum and pompano, too.

Earlier in the week, Rob got into a bunch of snook while using live bait. Most were on the small side, but a nice 10-pound fish was caught and released. On Monday, the afternoon tide proved to be a good one for anglers Joe and Phil Latorre. They were into a lot of fish, and landed five nice pompano and big black drum to 29 inches.

Rob says the water ranges from clean to dirty depending on where you are, and which direction the wind happens to be blowing that day.

Offshore: Onboard the “Capt. Marvel” skippered by Capt. Clarence Fleck, the target has been snapper. Using cut bait, anglers have been into mangrove and lane snapper up to three pounds. The front stirred up the water, and that makes the wary snapper a little easier to fool.

Capt. Fleck has been fishing half-day trips about 12 miles offshore. Before the front, there was a good number of king mackerel located 20 to 23 miles out of Gordon Pass on a heading of 260 degrees. Very nice of him to pass that information along. It will probably take a couple of days of settled weather to see if they are still holding in that area.

Naples/Estero Bay: Capt. Todd Geroy said that last week the red tide continued to seriously affect fishing in the Naples area. Add to that the weather pattern we enjoyed, and you have less than ideal conditions. Heavy winds, rain, and a cold front all contributed to mixed conditions, and Capt. Geroy was targeting anything that would bite, and as usual he was quite successful.

Moving around a lot, he put anglers onto reds to 25 inches, working pockets and points. The key was getting a bait well under the mangroves. Plenty of mangrove snapper, some small snook, black drum and sheepshead (to 3 1/2 pounds) made for successful trips.

On Saturday, Doug Brown, along with sons Jeff and Dave, boated five nice reds along with loads of snapper and black drum on their half-day trip.

If you have a report to share, email

Fishing Report: Strong winds, patches of red tide hampering action

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted February 13, 2013

NAPLES — The fishing has been great with this beautiful weather, but the catching part has had its ups and downs recently. Stronger winds make for some dirty water inshore, and the tides haven't been anything to brag about. There are a lot of fish around, but they seem to be picky about when they will bite.

Red tide issues continue in the area, with reports of dead fish, mostly mullet, in the Naples and Marco area. If you go offshore to net bait, you might return inshore with a well full of twitching or already dead baits. As you pull into an area, be aware if someone starts to cough or sneeze — sure signs of red tide.

Our winter species seem to be off because of the unusual weather we have been having. While there are some reports of trout and sheepshead catches, they are way too few for this time of the year.

Offshore, we are now in the two-month grouper closure, and that pretty much means snapper fishing for most offshore anglers.

Snapper fishing requires lighter tackle to trick the sharp-sighted critters, but where you catch snapper is some of the same habitat for gag grouper. What happens is that the gags get hooked, and then break off with the hook in them. They don't know it is a closed season. Too bad the bureaucrats didn't get the new rules written to avoid another closed season. Oh well, there is always next year.

Offshore: Capt. Tom Robinson reports that fishing in recent days has had its ups and downs. Since snapper are the target most trips are in the 12- to 14-mile range, and either a half-day or three-quarter-day trip.

The bite has been inconsistent at times, but when the mangroves are on, the bite is hot and the fish are good-sized.

On Saturday afternoon, Tom took out a group from Arthrex for some snapper fishing, and they limited out with mangroves to 19 inches. The largest mangrove never made it to the boat; a large goliath had a snack. Capt. Robinson also said they had a tiger shark come up to the boat nosing around, and a bull shark ate another hooked fish. The offshore wrecks are holding some nice amberjacks, and today a nice-sized king mackerel was landed.

Ten Thousand Islands: Fishing out of Everglades City, Capt. Jeff Legutki has been using flys or soft plastics on snook and reds. With the changing winds and not-so-great tides, the fishing has not been consistent according to Legutki.

Legutki does report that there are lots of healthy snook around, and he attributes that to the rebound of the forage fish available for food. He points out that two years ago a 24-inch snook may have only weighed four pounds, and now that same fish is over six pounds. His anglers are picking up reds in the 32- to 34-inch range on a regular basis, using fly or soft plastics.

On a recent trip with Matt Scarborough and son Jerry, they used both to catch some really nice fish. Jerry landed a 32-inch snook on a soft plastic, while Matt landed a 24-, 28- and 29-inch red using fly tackle. The water is getting stirred up with the high winds, and Jeff says we need the wind to settle in one direction for a few days to clear up.

Naples/Estero Bay: On a couple of days this week, I had Bob Winters from New Jersey out fishing. After years of fishing with Bob, he finally convinced his wife Susan to join him, and she turned out to be quite the angler.

We started off with some small silver trout and lady fish, and then progressed up to some tackle-busting jacks. The jacks were very aggressive, and ranged up to eight pounds.

Later, as the water warmed up, we ended up with about 15 snook, and a few snapper, too. With the wind moving from the east to the southeast, the water in the bay tended to get dirty early. Wiggins Pass provided a more sheltered area, and the snook catching continued there. Live bait netted offshore suffered a bit from red tide, but bait netted on the beach did well.

If you have a report to share, email

Fishing Report: Two-month grouper closure now in effect

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted February 6, 2013

NAPLES — As we continue to enjoy a wonderfully mild winter, the fishing seems to be a little off this past week. Water temperatures did dip somewhat into the low to mid 60s in the mornings, which slows down the bite a bit.

Water quality has been good, with some areas reporting water that is too clear to fish. Offshore, the two-month closure on all grouper started on Feb. 1, and that means the focus will be on snapper, kings, and amberjacks. Inshore, depending on the day and the area being fished, you might hit on a hot sheepshead bite, or even snag a few reds. Find a deeper hole full of trout, and you can end up with a mixed bag of silver and specs to take home for a fish fry.

Red tide, which had been a problem in the Estero Bay area a week or so ago, seems to have popped up in the Marco and Ten Thousand Island areas this past week. It is spotty and you may not have a problem. Not too many dead fish have been seen, quite a difference from the Estero bloom where hundreds of dead mullet washed ashore. Great for the birds, but hard on the nose.

If we can make it through the next several weeks with this nice weather we can move on to spring fishing, and that means snook and reds inshore, and back to red grouper as of April 1. If the water continues warm, we may even see an earlier than normal tarpon migration begin.

Offshore: Capt. Michael Avinon says that the red grouper season ended with the bite still very much on fire. Nice catches of good-sized keeper reds continued right up until the last day of the season. For the next couple of months Capt. Avinon will be concentrating on snapper and amberjack.

On Sunday he ran a half-day trip, and the anglers kept 16 mangs up to 17 inches. On Tuesday's full-day trip, the snapper bite was slow, so Mike moved to the amberjack location, and they ended up with 10 amberjacks up to 45 pounds. They used live blue runners that were caught while fishing for the snappers. He is using cut threadfin herring for the snapper. Capt. Avinion says the snapper bite will improve later in the week.

Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Bill Jones reports that there are a lot of trout in the deep holes south of Marco. He is finding both specs and silver trout in these holes, but a lot of the specs are shorts.

Along with the trout are quite a few whiting, and they are good-sized fish. Bill is using shrimp-tipped jigs to catch the fish, and he also is finding a few pompano using the jigs. Reds seem to have moved from the outside to the inner islands, and they are hitting shrimp under a cork, but they are scattered. Water temperatures dipped to 60 degrees, and there has been some red tide that has killed bait netted offshore.

Naples/Estero Bay: Fishing in Naples, Capt. Pat Gould says he has been catching quite a number of species using shrimp on a jig or shrimp under a cork. Lots of small sheepshead have been aggressively taking shrimp-tipped jigs. Trout, a mix of silver and specs have been hitting well.

While there are a lot of short specs, there are a fair number of 15- to 17-inch fish around to fill a limit. Reds and snook have been slow, but it you are patient working the docks, you can get some action. The water is ranging from nice to too clear, but there is no problem finding enough action to go through 50 shrimp in four hours.

If you have a report to share, email


Snook season gone until 2013

Florida's snook fishing season will remain closed on the west coast until 2013 instead of opening as planned on Sept. 1, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) announced this week.

Wildlife officials made the decision in light of a 2010 cold kill, which reduced the snook population on the state's coasts.

Snook season was closed on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts on Jan. 16, 2010, but it reopened last September on the Atlantic Coast, where the freeze was not as severe.

Recreational snook season is expected to reopen in the Gulf on Sept. 1, 2013. Until then, catch-and-release of snook will be allowed.

Shark Hunting
Fishing Holes
Angler Techniques
Fish I.D’s.
Fishing Tips
Fishing Knots

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."

^^Return to Top^^

Fishing Charters

Pocket Guide

Slip Knot

Palomar Knot

How to Knots

Last Month Report

Shark Fishing