Naples Fishing January 2013


Florida Fishing

Naples Pier



Live Shrimp

10,000 Islands

Summer Fishing





Fish On

When to Fish

Where to Fish

Fishing Report: Warm water temperatures resulting in summer-like activity

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted January 30, 2013

NAPLES — To say we have enjoyed unseasonably warm weather so far this year is one thing, but on Monday two reputable guys reported seeing rolling tarpon in Estero Bay. That is really something. The manatee also seem to be confused as well, so be careful when running across the shallow parts of bays.

Water temperatures have been ranging from the 50s to 60s before sunrise, to the 70-degree mark on the sunny afternoons. We have been enjoying the benefits of easterly winds that have been relatively mild, but as of Tuesday afternoon, they turned out of the south and picked up some steam. A not-too-strong cold front is expected to come through on Wednesday night, but conditions should be OK by the weekend.

Working the tides at this time of the year can be a bit frustrating, with very low tide occurring in the morning and a "stunted" high tide in the early afternoon.

The better incoming tide is in the evening hours followed again by a strong outgoing. The end result for anglers is that in the morning fishing hours, you might not be able to get to your "hot spots." Look at this as an opportunity to find new places that will hold fish.

Obviously since there is little or no water in a great many areas the fish have to go somewhere, and that is generally to the deeper cuts and channels. It is the time to try a shrimp-tipped jig, heavy enough to reach bottom in the current, and work it slowly. Vary it a little bit by putting a whole shrimp on a hook, and use a split shot to weigh it down. There are a great many species that will respond in a positive way to this technique.

Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Johnnie Weeks reports that the fishing in the islands has been good, and that the water is clean from the beach out to 10 feet.

Recently, Capt. Weeks took John Erickson and family out for a half day of fishing, and they did great using shrimp. In just three hours, they boated over 50 fish, including trout, mackerel, bluefish, and pompano as well as others. "It was one of those days you thought you were in fish heaven," Capt. Erickson said.

Farther south, Capt. Brandon Acosta said that the fishing has been real good until the last couple of days, when the water got dirty. Before that, the reds had been biting well, and the trout were more active. Brandon has been getting trout ranging from 13 to 19 inches, and pompano running to 14 inches, all on shrimp-tipped jigs.

He has been getting a good bite on sheepshead using sand fleas. The catch of the week was when Debra from Brazil hooked a monster while fishing for trout on light tackle. Her catch was a 22-pound black drum that ate a shrimp. The snook bite has dried up recently.

Naples/Estero Bay: Capt. Alex Dolinski reports a good, steady bite in Estero Bay recently, but he has had to work with the water available and hit the cuts and channels using a tipped shrimp fished on the bottom.

On Tuesday, his three anglers landed a bunch of fish, including a limit of three keeper reds that went from 24 to 27 inches, and he has been getting quite a few over slot fish, too. The specs also have been kind to Alex, with fish ranging from 19 to 22 inches hitting the jigs.

Capt. Dolinski reports that the water quality has been pretty good, and last week's red tide seems to be gone. He also has been getting into some nice near shore catch-and-release grouper fishing on gags.

Offshore: Capt. Allen Walburn of A&B Charters reports that the red grouper fishing is as good as it can get. He is finding keeper red grouper as close as just seven miles off the beach on his half days, and some real large fish on the full-day trips that run anywhere from 18 to 25 miles out.

Using cut bait and squid, he is coaxing bites from fish that range up to 16 pounds. Add to that a lot of mangrove snapper, porgies, grunts, and catch-and-release gags, and the anglers are tired, but happy.

The king mackerel also have been hitting a flatline off the back with a live bait as an offering. The kings have been anywhere from 12 pounds to a smoking 30 pounder. Allen says the water is clear and the temperature was 70 degrees.

If you have a report to share, email

Fishing Report: Northern area experiences a bit of red tide

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted January 23, 2013

NAPLES — As I write this, we are seeing the temperature drop as we experience a cold front again. Hopefully, this one won't do too much to the water temperature, and we can continue enjoying a great winter season.

One other thing that put a damper on inshore fishing was a fair shot of red tide at the end of last week and through the weekend. Estero Bay and Wiggins Pass were the sight of numerous dead mullet, and if you had a live well full of bait in the wrong spot, it became a dead well.

Looking ahead, all of you grouper fishermen (and women) better mark your calendars because as of Feb. 1 we will once again "enjoy" a two-month grouper closure. While the motion to eliminate that closed season has in effect passed, the rules have not been completed, so we once again have the two-month closure. No one has ever accused the government of being quick to correct a mistake.

Speaking of grouper, the red grouper are in good supply, and some of the fish are running well over 30 inches and well over 10 pounds.

Yes, the better fish are farther offshore, but some keepers are being caught within 10 to 12 miles of the beach. Everything from live pilchards and pinfish, to dead cut bait and squid are doing the trick. Some good-sized king mackerel and amberjacks have been reported, too.

Inshore, the red tide put a damper on things at the end of the week through the weekend. There is plenty of live bait available, as well as live shrimp from the tackle shops. On most days, there are plenty of inshore species willing to eat them. One of the highlights of the weekend was the good Spanish mackerel fishing just off the beach outside of Wiggins Pass. Fish up to five pounds were caught on shrimp and lures.

Offshore: An extended offshore report begins with Capt. Clarence Fleck on the "Capt. Marvel" and a report of impressive-sized red groupers. On a recent full day, they limited out, and several of the keepers were over 10 pounds and one hit 15 pounds. Even on a half day, only 12 miles out produced five keepers to eight pounds with another keeper lost at the boat.

The "Findictive," captained by Michael Avion, ran an extended trip with the Naples Fishing Club recently, and the red grouper and amberjack fishing was really good. They ran out to 110 feet of water, and fished with squid and live pinfish, and put a hurting on the grouper. Sixteen of the keepers were over 30 inches and the "pool" winner was a nice, 34-inch fish that went 20 pounds and was caught by Tom Kannith. Capt. Mike says a friend reported catching several king mackerel in the 35-pound range.

Reader Hunter Grout was 22 miles offshore on a recent trip with daughter Meredith and friend Fred Buechel, and they devised a formula for a keeper red grouper.

If you catch 60 shorts then you will get a keeper. That seemed to work for them, because they landed 120 fish and ended up with two keepers. They also caught grunts, yellowtail snapper, porgies and one small shark.

Hunter notes that his GPS failed, and he had to navigate back by compass. Make sure you have navigation backup if you leave sight of land. It can get very lonely out there, and Texas is a long way off.

Pete Rosko relays a report by Capt. Hunter Robinson, who has been having good luck on giant redfish while drift jigging about five miles off Naples. He is using a 1/2-ounce kandlefish jig in gold. He sent a picture, and the fish is well over 10 pounds.

Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Stacy Mullendore says the fishing in the Islands has been good, and there are a wide variety of fish willing to eat a bait. He has been using both live bait and live shrimp on his trips with good success.

On the flats around the shoals, he has been finding everything from bluefish to mackerel and trout and jacks. A few pompano are hitting tipped jigs in the deeper cuts. The trout have been mostly in the 15- to 18-inch range, but a nice four-pound, 23-inch fish was landed on Tuesday.

On the higher tides, Stacy is having his anglers work both shrimp and live pilchards around the mangroves for redfish. The reds are mostly in the 19- to 24-inch range, and are eating well. Water conditions are good and no red tide is reported.

Naples/Estero Bay: I fished on Thursday and Saturday in the Estero and Wiggins Pass area, and the red tide was significant. On Thursday, it was bad enough that a couple of the guides lost all their live bait.

Fishing was on the slow side, but we did get 10 to 12 snook each day, and on Thursday we got several nice-sized jack crevalle and a keeper redfish. Live bait was available both on the beach and offshore, but keeping it alive was a challenge. On Saturday, I tried Wiggins, and it was actually worse there.

Capt. Jason Moore fished on Monday and Tuesday, and said that by Tuesday the red tide seemed to be somewhat less of a problem.

On Monday, his first fish was a nice, 30-inch snook, but then the tide was slow and so were the fish. Tuesday, the big fish of the trip was a huge, 15-pound jack crevalle. Jason says that the bay is relatively clear, and water temperature in the morning was 69 degrees. He got live bait offshore and didn't lose any to red tide on Tuesday.

If you have a report to share, email

Fishing Report: Despite the calendar, fish thinking it's summer

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted January 16, 2013

NAPLES — While our friends and relatives up north are freezing their butts off, we are enjoying summerlike weather, which has made for very nice conditions to get out on the water. Tides have been fairly low in the morning, and the southeast wind has murked up some areas waters, but overall it has been outrageously nice.

Our fish have been somewhat confused by these conditions, though. By their internal clocks it is supposed to be winter and the water temperature is supposed to be in at least the low 60s, not the mid-70s.

This is the time of year that shrimp is the only bait available for them to eat, not the loads of live bait that are on the beaches and in the bays. Snook are supposed to be way up the rivers and creeks finding water temperatures more to their liking. Well, throw out all the "how-to" books, and get out on the water. Snook, jacks, ladyfish, trout, sheepshead, black drum, redfish, pompano, and other species are all around for the taking, and offshore, the red grouper still think it is late summer.

On some days, you may find some fish that will only take a shrimp, and on others it is a live bait that merits a strike. Still on other days, it might be a nice piece of ladyfish that gets the redfish or snook to eat.

The secret is to keep trying. If one thing doesn't work well then try something else. Just a change in location may be the thing that results in success.

This upcoming weekend, the tides in the Estero area are less than great, but farther south, they aren't too bad. If the weather holds -- and it looks like it will -- this might be a good opportunity to try the nearshore reefs for some grouper or snapper fishing, and if you can get out a little farther you might find yourself in a school of kings.

Naples/Estero Bay: Capt. Steve Nagy reports that the fishing has been good between the fronts, and the extended warm weather does nothing but help. Steve has been changing up on techniques and locations in search of different species.

Sheepshead as large as seven pounds have been falling for a shrimp on the bottom. Steve has been working around the bridges, and dock pilings for these guys. He has been working the deeper holes for trout with shrimp on a jig, and then as the sun warms the water, he hits the grass flats using a cork with a 1/4-ounce jig under it. He puts a shrimp or a Flurry on the jig.

Reds have been haunting the bars and under the mangroves at higher water. He is using a shrimp under the popping cork on these spot tails. Live bait has resulted in some mighty tug of wars with jack crevalle in the 20-pound class, and for those of you who haven't ever tangled with a jack of 10 pounds or more, they are the strongest inshore fish, period.

Ten Thousand Islands: Down Everglades City way, Capt. Pete Rapps reports that the redfish action has been very good, with catches of reds hitting 20 or more per trip. On a recent trip with Pete Klopf and son Parker and friend Bert, they put 28 reds in the boat while fishing just one spot.

Shrimp under a popping cork has been the favored presentation, and most of the fish are being caught near the outside islands. The pompano also have been hitting well and using a jig tipped with shrimp has produce up to 10 nice-sized pompano per trip. Capt. Pete also said that the sheepshead are hitting around the oyster bars and under the mangroves, using shrimp.

Offshore: Red grouper are still the star of the offshore anglers. They still haven't moved farther offshore since the water is still on the warm side, and there are some great fish out there to be caught.

Capt. Michael Avinon of the "Findictive" reports that he has been catching keeper grouper anywhere from 12 to 50 miles offshore. The grouper include numerous shorts and keepers from the just-legal 20 inches to fish over 30 inches.

All of the grouper that Mike has been catching are falling for cut sardines or squid. A recent trip out to 115 feet of water produced limits of red grouper to 32 inches. On Monday, Mike had another full day that resulted in 16 keepers to 34 inches. His anglers also boated yellowtail and mangrove snapper, as well as a 45-pound amberjack that went for a live pinfish.

If you have a report to share, email

Fishing Report: Great weather leading to great action

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted January 9, 2013 .

NAPLES — If you went north for the holidays and have recently returned to "Paradise," you might think it was October, not January. For the past week, we have enjoyed some really great fishing weather.

Winds have been out of the easterly direction for the most part, which helps to clean up the water and keep the wave heights down in the Gulf. Other than some serious fog on a couple of mornings, it just doesn't get much better than this. Water temperatures have ranged up to the mid-70s, and there has even been bait along the beaches.

For those of you venturing offshore, the conditions have been much better than just a couple of weeks ago. Red grouper are still very much available, and keepers are being reported on half-day trips that take place within 10 to 12 miles of the beach.

Farther out, the numbers of keepers get better, and some of the fish are ranging up to 30 inches. King mackerel and sharks are providing big fish action for those so inclined. Most of the red grouper are being caught using cut bait and squid.

There are some large and lively critters out there, too. Geoff Shepard and Bill Hickman were spooked by something large and fast while fishing 28 miles off the beach. They went to heavier tackle, and had three more mystery hookups, but didn't get to see what was whipping their butts.

Inshore, we have everything from trout, sheepshead, pompano, trout, and jacks to catch. Some of the jacks are ranging into the double digits, and can provide quite the challenge on light tackle. We landed two at 12 pounds on a recent trip, as well as a couple of eight-pounders. They were all over the lively pilchards we were using that morning.

The trout bite varies up and down the coast, with the best reports coming from down in the Ten Thousand Islands. Shrimp as well as live pilchards seem to work on the trout, and don't be surprised to see a nice pompano grab an offered shrimp. The ones we are seeing up in Estero Bay are very nice-sized, ranging up to three pounds. Find clean water for the best results.

Sheepshead are plentiful, and while there are a lot of little bait stealers around, the keepers are in fair supply, too. Try around the docks -- scrape a few barnacles off a piling for chum -- or find a good oyster bar. Just enough shrimp to cover the hook will entice a bite.

Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Glen Puopolo has been working over the reds pretty well on most recent trips. Fish are mostly in the 18- to 27-inch range, with occasional over-slot fish taking a bait, too.

Most of the action on the reds is out in front as the tide comes in. He has been using shrimp on a jig. Trout and pompano action is good on the grass flats, and most of the trout are keepers, too. John Puder got into a nice bunch of redfish on a recent trip with Glen.

Naples/Estero Bay: Fishing the Naples area, Capt. Chris McCubbin has been finding a mixed bag of fish on most trips. With recent water temperatures in the 72- to 78-degree range, he is getting his share of the warm-water species, as well as the sheepshead, black drum, and others that we think of as our cold-water fish.

Water quality has been very good, and he is working anywhere from out front to well in the backcountry. Live bait has been readily available, and his anglers have used it to catch trout to 21 inches, snook in the 22- to 25-inch range, as well as plenty of jacks and ladyfish.

I fished in Estero Bay several days in the past week, and once the water started to come in after fairly low tides, the fish started to eat. On most days, we ended up with eight or nice species being caught, and about 25 to 30 fish for a half day. The only species missing recently has been redfish.

A mix of live bait and shrimp made for productive trips. Water quality varies with parts of the bay, and in the afternoons the wind would shift to a southeast direction and muddy up parts of the bay.

Capt. Bill Curtis fished on Tuesday with angler Paul, and they started with some small sheepies first thing in the morning. Once the tide started coming in, the reds started hitting the offered artificial lure. Bill said that reds have been scarce recently, but these fish were definitely in an eating mood and they were all upper-slot fish. The key was finding cleaner water, which took some doing, but was well worth the effort. A lot of ladyfish also took the small lures.

Offshore: The "Sea Legs," skippered by Capt. Tom Robinson, has had great red grouper action in the past week. Even on half-day trips, anglers are catching two to three keeper red grouper, mixed in with lots of shorts.

On a three-quarter day, Tom reported 15 keepers, and on a full-day trip with Dave Nelson, son Rodney, and friends Matt and Lewis, they pulled in 19 keepers that went to 29 inches. They were 30 miles out, and Capt. Robinson said the conditions were just great. King mackerel and sharks are also providing excitement for the offshore angler.

If you have a report to share, send it to

Fishing Report: Anglers adjusting to changing water temperatures

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted January 2, 2013

NAPLES — Happy New Year to one and all! May 2013 be the year of your trophy fish.

2013 started off with an absolutely beautiful day to be on the water — blue skies and mild air temperatures. Water temperatures have been fluctuating with the cold fronts. After a front, you can expect the water temperature to drop well into the 50s, and then a couple of days later we are back into the mid-60s.

Unlike the warm weather fishing we have most of the year, this constant changing of conditions can play havoc with us anglers. In addition to the cold fronts, about every three days we have had some very low tides in the mornings which limits where many boats can go. Some days, the difference between low tide and high tide can be measured in just a few inches.

In spite of these conditions, fishing has been relatively good inshore. Sheepshead fishing seems to be the bright spot for many fishermen recently. Some really nice three- and four-pound fish have been boated. They are around the docks, oyster bars, and even downed trees.

Shrimp on a jig or on a hook with a split shot will do the trick, but be aware of the smaller sheepies that will pick your hook clean in an instant. In most cases, the bite is very light, and you really don't know if the fish attacking your shrimp is a five- ounce fish or a three-pounder. Black drum are to be found in many of the same areas and also will go for the shrimp you offer.

Trout fishing has been a hit-and-miss proposition recently. Dirty water does not make for great trout fishing conditions. If you can find some clean-moving water, you might get lucky. A lot of the trout have been shorts, but there are some 18-inch fish out there, too.

Pompano also are spotty right now, but the ones being caught are nice fish in the three-pound range. When they are being caught, it is anywhere from off the beaches to well into the back. Of course, there are the assorted other species that can result in eight or 10 different species being caught on a four-hour trip.

Snook and reds have mostly disappeared in many areas. Yes, a few are being caught, but not in the numbers we were seeing just before Christmas when the water was much warmer.

Down in the islands, when the water is clear enough the sight fishing for both reds and snook has been much better. While most of the snook being caught are small to medium in size, there are some real monsters cruising the bays. The other day we had a 48- to 50-inch snook cruise right along our boat, ignoring all of the shrimp in the water.

Offshore, the story is much the same as past weeks. Red grouper fishing is holding up well, and numerous reports of keeper-size grouper being caught anywhere from 12 to 30 miles off the beach. Cut sardines and squid seem to be the offerings of choice. With the water a little stirred up, the snapper fishing has been pretty good, too.

There are some other critters out there. Bill Hickman and Geoff Shepard were about 25 miles offshore on Monday and Tuesday, and they had a number of large, unidentified fish grabbing a bait and then heading for the horizon. Only on one occasion did they get a glimpse of a fish, and the best guess is that they were tangling with some really big cobia.

Naples/Estero Bay: Capt. Steve Nagy says that morning trips have been somewhat of a challenge with very low tides and strong winds.

He has been working the oyster bars and doing real well on the sheepshead, with fish ranging in the three to four pound range willing to take a shrimp on a jig. He has also had a variety of other species, including short reds, trout, black drum, jacks, and ladyfish around to provide plenty of action for anglers. On a recent fly trip, he had his angler throwing a brown/orange baitfish pattern fly and they landed snook to 26 inches and reds to 24 inches.

Ten Thousand Islands: Fly fishing has been reasonably good, according to Capt. Jeff Legutki who fishing in the Everglades City area. Jeff actually has been doing better when the water is cooler, which gets the fish moving into the shallows to warm up.

He has been seeing groups of both snook and reds while polling the shorelines. Most of his reds are to be found closer to the front, while the snook are mostly in the backcountry. The majority of snook hitting the fly are on the smaller side, but Jeff is seeing a fair number of jumbos cruise the shorelines.

On a recent trip he had onboard Erik Compton, who is a PGA Tour pro and a good fly fisherman to boot. He landed a number of good snook and real good reds up to 30 inches while throwing the fly. Jeff is using a number of bait pattern flies that he ties.

Offshore: Onboard the "Capt. Marvel," Capt. Clarence Fleck has been finding the big red grouper. Recently on a trip that took them 20 miles offshore, they landed eight keeper grouper on the first drop. Another four joined them on ice and a number of shorts were released.

Capt. Fleck then turned to some snapper fishing, and he put his group onto a nice pile of mangrove snapper. Eighteen keepers to three pounds, and a four-pound mutton snapper added to the day's catch.

The Dan Waller party of six went out for a full-day trip with Capt. Ed Nichols, and they headed out to 70 feet of water. Ed reports that the grouper fishing was very good. The group kept 10 grouper, and released other legal-sized fish, including a 33-inch, 18-pounder.

After that it was off to a ledge that held some nice snapper. A total of 22 mangrove snapper that went up to three pounds were landed, as well as a four-and-a-half-foot lemon shark. Lane snappers and porgies added to the action. Cut sardines and squid were used for bait.

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