Naples Fishing July

Fishing Report: Tides not necessarily indicators of good fishing

By LARRY REGIENCZUKPosted July 27, 2011

NAPLES — Even though we are in the middle of summer, and with that the heat and the thunderstorms may keep some boats off the water, the fishing has been pretty good on most days.

What is interesting is that on a day where you have a better tide, you may not do as well in the catching department as on a day with a poor tide. The fish eat when they are hungry and in the mood.

On a recent trip, we started out catching fish on small pilchards, and the action was pretty good and then it stopped. Switching over to small pinfish, the bite got hot once again.

Snook, most in the 18- to 24-inch range, can be found around the passes, jettys, and just inside the passes. Early in the morning or in the evening, these fish are more than willing to jump all over a surface bait, whether it is a hard plastic like a Zara Spook, or one of the soft plastic jerk baits. Once the sun comes up and the temperature starts climbing, live bait seems to work the best, with some fish being caught on jigs, too.

Using some of the smaller beach baits can result in a lot of action from mangrove snapper at this time of year. It is not unusual for six or more snapper to compete for your bait, and while most of these guys are on the small size, there are some much larger fish to be had.

Try working your bait in slightly deeper water around structure. Another benefit of the smaller baits are the redfish and even flounder that seem to prefer the smaller-sized morsel.

Offshore, the red grouper saga continues. Closer to shore, most of the fish are shorts, but get farther out on some good bottom, and the keepers are aggressively taking a bait, live or dead. Mangrove snapper fishing offshore seems to be a little slow, but there are some larger snapper being reported coming off the ledges. Of course, the goliath grouper like to eat snapper, too, and they are particularly eager to eat your hooked fish.

It seems as though any problem we had with the algae bloom of last week was minor and short lived. While some dead fish were reported in North Naples and Bonita Beach, the numbers were relatively small, especially when compared to past years' red tides. Hopefully, this will be all we see of algae blooms this year.

Offshore: Capt. Tom Robinson, on "Sea Legs," had a full day on Tuesday with Mike D'Armon and family.

Heading out of Gordon Pass early Tuesday morning, Tom says they had to dodge a couple of rain squalls, but the cloudy day made for a fairly comfortable day of fishing.

Once they were out about 26 miles, Capt. Robinson made his first drop, and the action was almost immediate. Red grouper were bending rods, and quickly filling the ice box. A limit for everyone, and they were throwing back keeper-sized reds.

Young Jack (9 years old) landed the largest, a nice, 26-inch fish.

After the grouper, a move was made in the quest for some snapper, and even though the bite wasn't on fire, a nice 21-inch mangrove made it to the fish box.

A 60-pound goliath provided some great action, as well as a number of sharks, including a seven-foot nurse shark. A cobia came around to check out the boat, but didn't seem interested in eating anything. Live pinfish and cut sardines were used for bait.

Jim Lange and family recently went out with Capt. Michael Avinon on board the "Capt. Marvel" for a full-day outing. Running out over 25 miles offshore before the first drop, they found the grouper more than willing to bend a rod. Lots of grouper were caught and released, and everyone onboard got their limit of keepers.

Jim also landed a 35-pound goliath grouper after an arm-straining battle. Capt. Mike says the water was clear and flat, which makes for a very enjoyable ride out and back.

Naples/Estero Bay: Fishing around the jettys in the morning has proven very successful for Capt. Tim Daugherty on recent trips.

Using a combinations of top-water lures and small live baits, Tim has been putting anglers on a lot of snook. As the sun comes up, he will range into the back somewhat, but generally stays within a mile of a pass. On the inside, the snapper and reds have been gobbling up the small live baits as well. Johnson and Rookery bays have also been yielding good catches of reds caught on Gulp baits.

Ed Cuccio, fiancee Patti, and friend Hilton joined me for a half day on Monday. The morning started out bleakly since I couldn't find bait, and finally resorted to chumming inside the bay.

Thankfully, that worked out well, and we were off to see if the fish would cooperate. Right off the bat, the small snapper showed up, and they were hungry. After warming up on those little guys, we set out for some snook.

The three anglers landed over 20 snook in the 18- to 24-inch range, and Ed had an over 40-inch monster to the boat, when a last moment run under the boat set him free. Six redfish 17 to 24 inches, and a nice jack rounded out the catch. Patti was the champ of the day with a five-pound redfish and a three-pound mangrove snapper.

Ten Thousand Islands: Changing things up recently, Capt. Shane Miller put some crabs in the live well, and took angler Chuck Lapham out permit fishing. Running out about six miles, the first stop was a bust, but as they pulled up to the second spot, they could see a good number of large permit milling about. Before Shane could get the anchor down, Chuck was hooked up on a screamer.

After the battle was won, a nice 32-pound permit had been boated. Quickly rebaiting, Chuck tossed the crab out, and he was once again off to the races. At the end of the struggle, a scale produced a 30-pounder to add to the tally. A third nice permit was hooked up, and in the middle of the fight, an ornery bull shark decided to have it for lunch.

With the sharks showing up, Shane decided to change things up again, and they headed toward shore, and started throwing jigs for trout. A total of 12 nice fish in the 18-, 19-inch range helped to end a great day of fishing.

Capt. Ken Chambers says the fishing has been pretty good, with snook on the outside islands and on the points.

Using topwaters and/or flys in the morning, he has been successful working the snook. Ken has also been getting some small pilchards on the beach, and using them in the back under a cork and around the bushes for reds. While most of the reds are in the low end of the slot, there are some nice mid- and upper-slot fish around. Lots of snapper are eating the small baits, with jacks and even flounder mixed in.

If you have a report to share, send it to

Spiny lobster seasons begin soon in Florida

By VIA PRESS RELEASEPosted July 20, 2011 at 9:48 a.m.

Florida spiny lobster are the catch of the day in the Florida Keys during the last week of July each year when the sport mini-season is in full swing. The local delicacy has a short, 3-day season for sportsman prior to the opening of the commercial lobster season in August. Eric Strachan/StaffRecreational and commercial harvest seasons for spiny lobster in Florida are set to reopen soon.

The special two-day spiny lobster sport season comes first, July 27-28 this year, followed by the regular lobster season Aug. 6 through March 31. The special two-day sport season occurs on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July each year to let recreational harvesters collect spiny lobsters before commercial lobster traps are placed in the water Aug 1.

Recreational fishers must have a saltwater fishing license and a spiny lobster permit to harvest spiny lobsters, unless they are exempt from the recreational license requirements. Harvesters also must make sure their spiny lobsters have a carapace length greater than 3 inches to take them, and divers must possess a measuring device and measure all lobsters while in the water.

During the two-day spiny lobster sport season, divers and snorkelers are allowed to take up to six lobsters per person daily in Monroe County and Biscayne National Park waters and 12 lobsters per person daily in other Florida waters. Lobster fishermen may possess no more than the daily bag limit of lobsters when on the water. When lobster fishers are off the water, they may possess the daily bag limit on the first day and double the daily bag limit on the second day. Possession limits are enforced on and off the water during the two-day sport season. During the Aug. 6 through March 31 regular season, the daily recreational bag and on-the-water possession limit is six spiny lobsters per person.

Night diving for spiny lobsters during the two-day sport season is not allowed in Monroe County or the Keys, and all harvest of lobsters is prohibited in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo during the two-day season. If you are diving in Monroe County, be sure to download the lobster fishing brochure at

Lobster harvest is also prohibited at all times in Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, Biscayne Bay/Card Sound Spiny Lobster Sanctuary, certain areas in Pennekamp Park, and no-take areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Divers and snorkelers are required to display a "divers-down" flag (red with a white diagonal stripe) while in the water. Divers-down flags displayed on vessels must be at least 20 inches by 24 inches, and a stiffener is required to keep the flag unfurled. Dive flags carried on floats must be at least 12 inches by 12 inches. More information on divers-down flag requirements is available online at

More information on recreational spiny lobster fishing, including how to measure spiny lobster, is available online at, under "Saltwater Fishing."

Fishing Report: Put on insect repellent, drink water, then catch fish

By LARRY REGIENCZUKPosted July 20, 2011 at 8:11 a.m.

NAPLES — On the inshore front, if you can handle the heat and the bugs, the fishing has been pretty good. Cover yourself with insect repellent and drink gallons of water, then be prepared to catch some fish.

Snook are ranging from out on the beaches to all the way back in the creeks that feed the bays. Most of the fish reported are in the 18- to 25-inch range, but there are some hefty cruisers out there.

With bait almost non-existent, anglers are using shrimp -- which are running on the small side -- or artificials to entice a strike. Jigs, subsurface lures, and surface baits seem to all be doing the trick with both snook and reds. Tarpon are being seen early in the mornings with no reported hookups.

Mangrove snapper are around in numbers, and some of the fish are really nice-sized for inshore snapper. They will quickly eat a shrimp, and the smaller shrimp actually work very well on these bait stealers. Use an appropriate-sized hook and either float it under a popping cork or use a small split shot sinker to work the deeper shorelines. Don't be surprised if your rod is almost jerked out of your hand by one of the 8- to 10-pound jacks roaming the waters, especially around the passes.

Spanish mackerel, snapper, grouper, sharks, and the occasional cobia are providing action for the offshore anglers. With recent reports of dead fish from a presumed algae bloom, you might want to be careful of what you take home for dinner. Cut sardines, shrimp, and squid have been the baits used most this last week.

Offshore: Onboard the "Sea Hooker," Capt. Kevin took Gigi, Alex and Jerry Logan out for a half day of fishing. With fairly calm waters, it was a quick ride to the first stop. Using squid, sardines, and cut bait, the group caught short grouper to 20 inches and one nice 26-inch red grouper that was invited home to dinner. Lots of snapper made for good action, too.

On another trip, this one a full day, angler Chris worked over the snapper and grouper, but the highlight of the trip was a 60-pound cobia that he brought in.

Near shore fishing also has been pretty good, according to Capt. Jim Wheeler. He took the David Becker group from Minneapolis out for a half day on Friday, and they got into a nice bunch of Spanish mackerel that ran to 22 inches. Several small blacktips and a bonus 22-inch snook rounded out the trip.

Naples/Estero Bay: Capt. Jason Kaufman had a newly engaged couple, Josh and Kicki, out for a half day recently.

Since bait was hard to find, Jason chummed up some pins to be netted. Using the pins, the couple managed a dozen snook to 25 inches and one slot red. Capt. Kaufman reports that the water was somewhat murky, and that he did see some tarpon rolling first thing in the morning.

Fishing the backwaters of Estero Bay this past weekend with Mark Combs and Christie West of Fort Myers Beach, Capt. Neil Eisner worked over the snook and redfish. He had his anglers using shrimp either on a jig or under a popping cork, and the technique worked well.

A lot of snook in the 20- to 24-inch range were landed, and a number of slot reds including one jumbo, oversized fish. Neil also reports that snapper are all over the place, and that some of them are real nice-sized fish. The water in the back was clear, but got murky towards the Gulf.

Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Steve Sabara says that fishing has improved over the last four to five days. The full moon at the end of last week seemed to hurt the fishing some, and now the bite is back. With bait a spotty situation at best, Steve has been using jigs at times, and scoring well on the snook.

With most fish running up to 25 inches, he did have an angler boat a nice, 33-inch fish. Trout have also been willing to consume the jigs, and most of these fish are 15 to 20 inches. He says the water is hot, and he hasn't seen any of the dead fish that are being reported farther north.

If you have a report to share, send it to

Fishing Report: Simple truth, if you can get bait, you've got fish

By LARRY REGIENCZUKPosted July 6, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.

NAPLES — It was a good time to be out on the water, even if you had to dodge one too many thunderstorms. I know my group got soaked (and cold) on Sunday while out on the water. On the Fourth we really expected a lot of boats to be out early but were pleasantly surprised by the lack of boats until later in the day.

Up and down the coast it is the same thing. If you get bait you get fish (snook!). Snook are more than willing to eat a live bait, whether it is a two-inch pilchard or an eight-inch threadfin. Of course the bigger baits don’t work as well on the run-of-the-mill snook, but for the really big ones, the bigger the better.

An example of that is the giant snook caught by Ryan Clase while fishing in Estero Bay. Ryan was tossing baits when he spotted a large fish cruising in about four feet of water. His toss was good, the fish ate and the battle was on. After about five minutes the encounter was ending in favor of the angler and a 27-pound, 44-inch monster was in the net and ready for release.

In addition to snook the inshore anglers have been scoring on pompano (using shrimp tipped jigs), jack crevalle, a few trout and even some tarpon. The tarpon are more interested in just rolling around and driving anglers crazy than they are in eating, but every once in awhile they put on their display of acrobatics for everyone around.

If you have a small fortune to invest in shrimp, there are more mangrove snapper around than you can count. They are more than willing to eat every shrimp that you care to throw at them, often swarming the bait being offered. You can add small to medium sharks to the potential inshore take at this time of the year. The smaller blacktips seem to creep well into the back and can offer a spectacular fight on light tackle if you manage to hook them just right.

Offshore fishing continues to be about the red grouper. If you are able to run offshore 25 miles or more and find some hard bottom to fish over you will catch some red grouper. Do it long enough and you will get some keepers to take to dinner. These fish are running into the upper 20-inch range and can weigh in at 15 pounds or more. Cut sardines or live bait will do the trick, but be aware of the aggressive goliath groupers that will gladly eat one of your smaller reds.

Barracuda are also another offshore species that is targeted at this time of year and hooking into a fish that is in the three- to four-foot range is a hoot! If you avoid getting cut off be sure to exercise care when the fish is at the boat. More than one angler has had an eye opening experience when a supposedly “tired” fish makes one more leap ... into the boat with teeth flashing.

Naples/Estero Bay: Fishing in the Naples/Estero area is typical for this time of year. One day getting fish can be a challenge and the next you cant keep them off your hook.

Capt. Pat Gould went out Saturday. Finding bait was a struggle but he stuck with it and finally got some usable bait in his well. He had a father and son team — both named Michael from Miami — and they worked hard, but landed eight snook and a bunch of snapper before the rains and storms ran them off the water. Pat has been seeing a number of tarpon, but they have been bait shy and none have been jumped.

On Sunday I had the pleasure of fishing with Richard Butler and Doug Mealor from Villa Ricca, Ga. We lucked out and got a fair number of pilchards on the first throw of the net (Doug got to pick out all the ones that were gilled). Running to the Wiggins Pass area to catch the outgoing tide, we hit snook on the very first cast. Doug, who had never caught a snook, did well on the larger fish but was a real conservationist on the smaller fish that wanted to eat his bait.

Richard, an old hand at catching Mr. Snook, was better at bringing all his fish to the boat. We boated 39 snook, with a number of them being in the six- to seven-pound range, a couple of large jack crevalle and a bunch of mangrove snapper. There was even a three-foot black tip willing to try our offerings. They ended up with a couple of slot red fish before afternoon shower chased us back to the dock.

Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Matt Hoover has been netting some larger white baits offshore and putting them to good use on some really large snook.

Hoover has been hitting the outside islands and his anglers have been nailing snook in the 15- to 17-pound range on a fairly regular basis. Matt has been concentrating on the upper islands and the area around Caxambas Pass for most of his snook recently.

While tossing these large baits at likely snook hangouts his fishermen have been pleasantly surprised on several occasions when a giant silver thing erupts from the water. He has brought in tarpon in the 35- to 80-pound range under these circumstances. When using some smaller beach baits Capt. Hoover has been catching some reds and smaller snook.

Pompano have been the target of choice for Capt. Jack Thompson on recent outings. On a trip late last week his anglers brought home 11 nice pompano in the two- to three-pound range and released quite a few smaller fish.

While fishing for the pomps his crews have been encountering the odd Spanish mackerel or trout. Jack says that most of the trout he is seeing now are the smaller fish. A few jacks are rounding out the catches, and while tarpon have been seen rolling none have eaten a bait lately. Captain’s note: Jack, who has been fishing this area since (well we won’t get into how long) reports that there are more (and larger) pinfish than he has ever seen.

Offshore: The “Sea Legs” captained by Tom Robinson has been out on half- and full-day charters recently. On the half days there is a lot of action on short grouper, grunts and some mangrove snapper.

On a full day charter Tuesday, Tommy had Ed Fulmer and on board for a full day of fishing. On his way to a location about 30 miles out Capt. Robinson saw something interesting on his bottom reader and decided to make a drop. By 10:30 they had not only put a limit of 10 nice red grouper in the box, they were releasing keeper sized grouper.

Next on the agenda was a battle with some really large goliath grouper. After a struggle with some of these monsters ranging from 150 to 180 pounds, the tired anglers needed something a little easier to target. Tom went to a nearby wreck and played “feed the barracuda” until a nice 25 pounder ate the hook and not the wire. A few nice mangrove snapper and a “baby” 30-pound goliath rounded out the day before the trip back home.

Fishing Report: Rain bringing out the baby tarpon


NAPLES — If you haven't noticed, the rainy season has started. I know this because mosquitoes the size of flying pigs have been draining my blood supply for the past week.

The rain will change things up some for the inshore anglers. Salinity in the creeks and rivers will change with the runoff, and that can be a good thing for the "baby" tarpon. When the rain comes, they seem to mysteriously appear in numbers, and can provide some great light tackle excitement. For the most part, this is all artificials, since live bait doesn't do too well in fresh water. While early and late in the day are best for targeting these smaller silversides, tide flow will strongly influence a couple of my favorite creeks.

Now is a great time to find the oversized snook that you have been dreaming about catching. They are on the beaches and around the passes. Live bait is great for these big girls, but don't overlook the use of a nice chunk of ladyfish, especially around the passes.

Of course, while you are looking for a big snook on the ladyfish, don't be surprised if something with a lot of sharp teeth comes around for the feed. Lots of sharks are to be found everywhere, from the offshore waters to the back bays. Cut bait such as ladyfish, mullet, or jacks will work just fine. You might want to use a little heavier tackle (a lot heavier) if you are going after Jaws!

The redfish bite has been improving some recently. It seems as though more redfish are being reported down in the Ten Thousand Islands than in the Naples/Estero area, but the reverse is true for snook. Reds have been caught on jigs (tipped and untipped) as well as the above-mentioned cut bait.Remember the rat reds of spring? Well, those fish are now in the 19- to 20- inch range, and in another couple of months, they should pick up another inch or two.

Lots of trout are being caught down south, and most of them are well into the keeper range, with a number of fish pushing 23-24 inches. With the scarcity of whitebait, it has been jigs or shrimp under a popping cork that anglers are using. A lot of the trout have spawned already.

Offshore, the water has been real nice, and the red grouper have been providing a lot of the action. If you are lucky enough to hit on the oversized yellowtail snapper that are cruising the depths, you will quickly forget about the grouper. Some of these "flags" are well over 20 inches, and as far as table fare, you can't beat them.

Spanish mackerel, sharks, and a few king mackerel are also being reported by the offshore fishermen. Most are using cut sardines and squid, but a few are using a sabiki to put a few threads or pinfish into the well.

Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. John Dant has been on the water quite a bit this last week, and he has been targeting reds and trout while fishing out of Everglades City. On Friday, he took out Kevin O'Neill, and they did real well on nice-sized trout. They boated over two dozen trout, ranging up to 23 inches. Shrimp under a popping cork over the grass flats did the trick.

On Saturday, John had 80-year-old Grandpa Jack, his son Jack, and grandson Brandon on the water. In addition to several slot reds, they all limited out on trout while fishing around Pavilion Key. A few small sharks rounded out the catch. Capt. Dant says the snook have been scarce down south.

Fishing out of Caxambas Pass, Capt. Bill Jones has been finding live bait, and the snook are willing to eat it. On Friday, his anglers landed 13 snook to 26 inches, and lost a few others. They also landed trout in the 15- to 23-inch range using the live whitebait. A nice slot red rounded out the day. Monday's group included two 11-year-old girls, Cory and "Care Bear." They had a good time, landing a few snook and a bunch of trout.

Naples/Estero Bay: "Bait has been very difficult recently," said Capt. Seth Hayes ( and I echo the sentiment).Some days, it takes three hours of throwing a net to get enough bait for anglers to use on a half-day trip. When you get the bait, you get the fish, according to Seth. Monday was one of those days where when you finally got some bait, and the fish were not terribly interested. Saturday was a different story. With some bait in the well, Capt. Seth put his crew on a number of nice reds and snook.

Capt. Jason Kaufman has been able to net some threads for recent trips, and the big snook have been all over them. On Friday, his anglers landed 25 snook, with six of them being oversized. The largest was a huge 40-incher, and another was just shy of that mark. Reds have been spotty, but the bite is improving. A few trout have been making it to the boat, and Jason has seen just a few large tarpon in the last few days.

Offshore: Ken Strassen of Master Bait and Tackle took Friday off, and went offshore with several friends. Tony Anderson, Jared Novak, and Tony Taylor accompanied Ken on a trip some 70 miles offshore in search of the American red snapper.

While they didn't get any of those, the trip was a major success. They hit the yellowtail snapper big time, catching fish after fish over 20 inches. Once a fish was on, it was a contest between the angler and the toothy critters (sharks and barracuda) that were after an easy meal. Ken says he has never seen so many "flags" that big.

In addition, they landed eight keeper red grouper that ranged from 15 to 20 pounds. Some big mangrove snapper are also haunting these deeper waters. Nice job, Ken!