Naples Fishing May 2012


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Fishing Report: Be careful when releasing fish during the summer months

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted May 30, 2012

NAPLES — When the water temperature and the air temperature get to be a similar number, and that number is in the high 80s, it means we are seriously into summer fishing. Back bays become warm enough that a lot of the fish move closer to the inlets or even outside in search of a little cooler water.

It isn’t just the temperature that affects the fish. As the water warms, the lower the oxygen content gets, and fish need oxygen in the water. That is why you need to pay special attention when releasing a fish during the summer months. During the fight, the fish rapidly depletes its oxygen, and reviving the fish before letting it go will help save many fish.

If you have scooted across flats in a boat on a regular basis, you have surely seen pompano “skip” as they are spooked by the boat. Well, this past Friday while idling in a no-wake zone, we had a flounder skip right into the boat. That is a first for me. The young lady in the front seat was shocked by the appearance of the 14-inch fish, but afterward we all laughed about it.

In case you missed it in the paper, later this summer we will be getting a new piece of structure offshore. Later in June or July, the USS Mohawk will be sunk in the Charlie’s Reef area (26-33.145N, 82-43.424W). This ship, built in 1935, saw action in World War II and in its final resting place, will provide habitat to many of our local species.

Offshore: Capt. Clarence Fleck, onboard the “Capt Marvel,” says the red grouper bite continues strong.

On Friday, he ran a 3/4-day trip out of Naples to 55 feet of water. Conditions were excellent, and the group landed numerous grouper, including seven keepers from 23 to 28 inches. Saturday and Sunday, Clarence had full-day trips, which allowed him to run out to a little deeper water, ending up in 75 to 80 feet.

Limits were had by both groups by lunchtime, and on Saturday, they also got a bonus of a dozen nice-sized mangrove snapper.

Ten Thousand Islands: On Sunday, Capt. Rob Walczak fished with Dave Sheffield and his son Carson, 8, and they did real well. The water was really clear, and Rob was able to fill the well with some good-sized threads before they headed out.

During the day, they landed a dozen snook, with the largest hitting the 30-inch mark. A single red surrendered to their efforts, as well as 10 nice-size trout. Walczak reports the tarpon fishing is slow, with his last fish coming last week. It was a heck of a fish though, hitting about 180 pounds! No schools of mackerel or ladyfish, which are normally around.

Naples/Estero Bay: Fishing around Estero Bay recently, Capt. Jason Moore has been getting some threads offshore and chasing tarpon for the most part.

The tarpon bite has slowed the past week, and most of his fish have been eating cut bait on the bottom rather than the live threads. His anglers have landed five in the 80- to 100-pound class in recent trips.

On the inside, he has been picking up some snook and a few redfish. Jason says the big trout are still on the nearshore reefs and willing to eat. Water conditions vary with the wind. On Tuesday, it was fairly rough, but conditions should improve during the week.

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Fishing Report: High temperatures, rain not affecting action

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted May 23, 2012 at 7:54 a.m.

NAPLES — Temperatures are high both on land and in the water, showers are ranging up and down the coast at times bringing out the mosquitoes, and the royal poinciana trees are blooming.

It must be May, and the fishing is good. All the inshore species are present and accounted for: snook, redfish, trout, mackerel, jack crevalle, and snapper. All are willing to eat an offering tossed their way. With water quality similar to what you find in the Keys this time of year, you might have to scale down your terminal tackle some to get the bite from leader shy fish.

Large numbers of snook are ranging along the beaches and around the passes. With the clear water, you can stalk them just like a bonefish.

At times, you will have schools of 12 to 20 working toward your boat. Shore fishermen working the trough early and late have a shot at some great action. These fish are anywhere from just off the beach, to sitting under an umbrella. Really, from shore, step into the water and cast right down parallel to the sand. A jerk bait or even a white jig can bring a great strike.

Reds are more scattered with the warmer weather, but they are around and will take your live bait, but are just as likely to pick up a chunk of cut bait.

Remember that a red has a smaller mouth than a snook, so size your bait accordingly. With cut bait, just wait for them to pick it up and move with your bait. Oh, and don't be surprised if it is a nice snook instead of a red on the end of the line. Recently, I have caught a lot of snook on cut threads.

Farther offshore it is all about red grouper. The fish are ranging up to 28 inches, and there seems to be a lot of them. A good number of gags are also being brought to the boat and released. Just a few more weeks and they will be legal, and I am sure a lot will go home for dinner. Kings are around the wrecks, and some are even hitting cut bait.

Tarpon are an on-again, off-again proposition. Some days you will see them, but they won't eat. Other days you may only see a couple, but they are ravenous. Some permit are being reported by tarpon anglers. They are ranging 25 to 30 pounds and, of course, the bait of choice is a nice crab.

Offshore: The "Sea Legs," skippered by Capt. Tom Robinson, had Dan and Sandy Tripp onboard recently, along with their daughter and her husband. They did real well on the red grouper, boating 12 keepers, including a huge, 28- inch fish.

On Saturday, Capt. Tom hosted a group of Canada anglers for a full day that was textbook beautiful. After putting a limit of 12 legal reds in the box and releasing others, the group was entertained for 30 minutes by a 50-pound cobia. This fish had been hanging around the boat for some time, but wouldn't eat any of the baits offered. When Tom found a crab in the livewell, they tried that, and the fight was on. The light tackle outfit tested the anglers' merit, but in the end it was cobia dinner at the "Dock" restaurant.

Capt. Michael Avinon reports similar action on his recent trips. He ran two trips with anglers from the Brooks Fishing Club recently. Joe Shannon hosted the first group, and Joe Bartoletti the second, and both groups limited out on red grouper. Fish are averaging in the 10-pound range, and are eating cut threads and squid. Mike also said he is getting king mackerel hitting the cut bait too.

Naples/Estero Bay: Fishing in Naples, Capt. Steve Sarbara has been finding some nice, fat snook on the beaches first thing in the morning. After loading up on live bait, he heads for the beaches where on Tuesday, Bob Lubar landed a bunch of fish, including three in the slot and one oversized.

In addition to the snook, Steve says his anglers are picking up some nice trout along the beaches, too. Reds are scattered and are a one or two proposition right now. Tuesday's trip also produced five flounder.

On Saturday, I fished with Bill Hickman in Estero and Wiggins Pass. While bait was tough to get, we accomplished that chore and set off to catch some fish.

Several large schools were targeted on the beach, and we landed a half-dozen. Venturing inside the passes, we found the fish chowing down on the nice incoming tide. We landed over 60, and at one point had a pair of large cruisers ignoring our baits. Finally, the bigger of the two decided to test Hickman, and took off with his bait. After a couple of close calls with the mangroves, we landed a 36-inch, 15-pound snook. The 25-pound test leader was worn down to about five pounds!

Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Bill Jones fished on Tuesday, and they went looking for tarpon. The only problem is that the tarpon that were there yesterday didn't show up, but that didn't hurt the fishing.

In addition to a number of blacktip and nurse sharks, Bill's anglers tossed a crab at a nice permit, and after a wonderful fight, finally landed a 25-pound fish. They finished up the day with a couple of keeper reds (23 and 26 inches) as well as a nice flounder. Bill said that the water was absolutely beautiful.

Running south from Everglades City, Capt. John Dant took Kevin O'Neil and friend Steve south of Pavilion Key on a recent trip. On the full-day trip, they landed over 70 fish. Using popping corks and shrimp, they got eight reds with three keepers, as well as countless trout from 18 to over 20 inches. A large shark provided some excitement until it got bored and left the area. Only one snook was caught that day, but John says that there are a good number of larger fish around.

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Fishing Report: Wind, rain continue to wreak havoc

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted May 2, 2012

NAPLES — Once again, we had a great weekend, if you wanted to fly a kite, but not so great to get out on the water.

In spite of less than ideal conditions, many captains did brave the elements with hardy customers on board, and they were rewarded for their efforts. The strong easterly winds made for sluggish incoming tides and more robust outgoing tides. Water along the beaches and even offshore was in reasonably good condition, and bait seems to have increased its presence.

For the boats that went offshore, the results were pretty good. On half-day trips, large lane snapper were the target. These are not your little palm-sized lanes. No, these are ranging up to 18 inches, and filet very nicely. Short grouper, porgies, and grunts rounded out most catches for the shorter trips. If you were able to get farther out, the red grouper went from legal to huge, with fish up to 16 pounds being reported.

The bays and passes are producing some good fish as well. Snook continue to haunt the areas just inside the passes and near islands. With more bait showing up on the beaches, the number of linesiders lurking the beach troughs will pick up, too. Trout running to 25 inches are being caught in the deeper cuts and holes. Make sure to release as many of these big fish as possible since these are the breeding stock, and will provide lots of little trout for future action.

Redfishing reports have slowed, with the best results coming from down Everglades City way. In Naples and Estero, they are still around, but just not bunched up.

This weekend the annual Gene Doyle Fishing Tournament will be held, with launches at Everglades City, Goodland, and Estero. This is a charity tournament that funds life-changing adventure/nature trips for local high school students. If you are fishing it this weekend, good luck.

Offshore: Capt. Clarence Fleck of the "Capt. Marvel" has been running half-day trips this past week due to the high winds. On a recent trip, his anglers landed 15 lanes up to 18 inches, with most over 12 inches.

As the water cleared up, the emphasis changed from snapper to grouper, and on Saturday's trip, a number of keeper-sized gags and red grouper were caught and released. The highlight of the trip was a giant goliath that was brought to the side of the boat. This fish was estimated to weigh 200 pounds.

The "Findictive" was able to get well offshore on a couple of the days last week, and according to Capt. Michael Avinon, the farther out you got, the bigger the grouper.

Using squid and cut threadfin herring, his anglers were pulling up red grouper to 16 pounds. Geoge Cardoza and three friends racked up 15 keepers before moving to a wreck to try for a permit, which George had been wanting to do for some time. With just three crabs on board, it was a crap shoot, but after a 30-minute battle, a nice 25-pounder was brought to the side of the boat for a photo before being released.

A note from Capt. Mike: he has seen the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation being very active in checking catches. Make sure that you are only keeping red grouper, and that they are at least 20 inches long (no stretching!).

Onboard the "Sea Legs," Capt. Tom Robinson ran two half-days on Tuesday. The morning bite was on the slow side, with porgies, grunts, and short grouper being caught. On the afternoon trip, the big gags seemed to wake up, and they landed three big ones up to 15 pounds (and released them). These fish seemed to really like pigfish as a bait. For a finale, a 150-pound goliath grouper lost a battle with an angler, but after a quick picture it was sent back to its home.

Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Andy Werner and his crew thought they were ducks on Sunday. Andy says that from the time he got out of his truck at the marina until the boat docked after a full day, it was rain, rain, and more rain.

His hardy crew hung in there, and ended up with a respectable catch for their effort. John Harris and Phil Plaxton from Boca Raton ended up with a dozen trout up to 26 inches that fell for live baits, as well as snook and reds. The dozen or so snook ranged from 25 to 28 inches, and a half-dozen reds in the 22- to 24-inch range. Andy said that the water clarity was not bad.

Farther to the south, Capt. Glen Puopolo headed out of Everglades City on Tuesday with John Pewter from Chicago.

Using jigs they were able to put seven nice snook in the boat. The fish were all nice-sized, and the largest went 33 inches. The jigs worked on the redfish, too. John also landed seven of those, and most were around 24 inches. Glen reports that the water quality is not too bad considering all the wind recently.

Naples/Estero Bay: Bait is back on the beaches, according to Capt. Tim Daugherty. Fishing the Naples area, Tim said the trout bite is crazy, with fish from 15 to 24 inches gobbling up live pilchards in the deeper cuts and holes.

He also said that the snook bite is real good, with more fish showing up weekly. While his anglers haven't boated any monsters recently, they are consistently bringing in (and releasing) solid fish in the 22- to 24-inch range. Redfish have been scattered, and Tim reports that he is picking up one or two in the back bays at the higher stages of the tides.

In Estero Bay, Capt. Steve Nagy also has been finding a lot of really big trout on recent trips.

Live baits on the bottom of the deeper cuts seem to do the trick on fish, from just legal 15 inches, to fish weighing four pounds or more. The snook are ranging around the areas near the passes. This includes nearby islands as well as the beaches and bridges. The snook are running from the 22-inch range to the occasional big girl of 30 or more inches. Steve reports that other than the east wall, Estero water is pretty stirred up.

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Fishing Report: Windy weekend ruined the action

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted April 25, 2012

NAPLES — Another wild and windy weekend ruined many a fishing trip. With gusts hitting well over 30 mph and sustained winds well over 20 mph, no one in their right mind would want to be out on the water. This was the third weekend in a row that Mother Nature tried to shake all the leaves off the trees, and hopefully it will be the last for a while.

As all you offshore anglers know, April 1 marked the end of our two-month closure for all grouper: the gags that they want to protect and the reds that are in reasonable supply.

In the minds of most of the offshore captains, this move is counterproductive since it forces the charter boats to go after mangrove snapper, kings and other species that haunt the same structure as the gags.

Tackle, especially for mangrove snapper, is scaled down to coax a bite out of the eagle eye fish. But since snapper will be found in the same structure as the gags, a great many gags are hooked and then break off the lighter tackle. Red grouper are found in areas not usually frequented by the gags. By allowing a red grouper season during those two months we will actually be helping the mortality of the gags, according to Capt. Tom Marvel. Recently Tom, at his own considerable expense, went to the meeting of the Gulf Council, the federal regulatory agency for our fishery. While Tom patiently waited his turn, about 80 Texans got up to speak about red snapper regulations.

After hearing 80 people say the same thing, the council members seemed to enjoy the change of pace when Capt. Marvel started to speak about the grouper dilemma. It seems that several of the members, including Larry Abele and Bob Gill as well as council head Roy Crabtree, were willing to look further into Tom’s data. Maybe in time for the 2013 season we could see a change in the two-month closure. Here’s hoping. Thanks for the effort, Tom.

Offshore: Capt. Tom Robinson actually ventured slightly offshore with a group that just wanted to go. Four kids and two adults braved 4 to 6 foot seas to enjoy pretty good action on short grouper and grunts. No one got sick until the ride back!

On Thursday before the big blow, Ed Palmer and his group went out on the “Sea Legs” with Capt. Tom and they nailed a limit of nice gags. After the gags Tom went to an old wreck that he hadn’t visited in 15 years and the crew boated mangrove snapper to 18 inches and several goliaths up to 80 pounds.

Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Rob Walczak canceled his weekend trips but did go out on Thursday. Using shrimp on jigs and under a cork his anglers landed about a dozen reds in the 17- to 23-inch range and another 10 snook of similar size.

A good-sized bull shark fell for a chunk of ladyfish to end the day with some frantic action. Rob says the water is dirty and will take a few days before it starts to clean up.

Naples/Estero Bay: In Estero Bay, Capt. Mike Malay fished Tuesday with conditions still very tough. The water started off somewhat dirty, but got a lot worse as the tide came in.

Malay was fortunate to get a few baits before the water turned to mud, and with those baits his anglers were able to pick up a few fish. Several snook and a couple of flounder made it to the boat, but compared to the end of last week before the wind it was not very good. On his last trip on Friday bait was much more available, and so were the targeted fish. Snook, reds and trout were had in decent numbers.

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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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