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Florida Light Tackle Fishing Reports

Fishing Report: Warmer weather heats up inshore fishing scene

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted May 25, 2011

NAPLES — Inshore fishing is heating up along with the temperature. Whether you are on the beaches, around the passes or fishing islands just inside, the snook have been very active in the last week. While most of the fish caught are in the 18- to 26-inch range, a number of fish up to 35 inches have been reported.

As we move into the weekend the better tides should only improve the fishing. Also on the inshore report are trout and pompano. Both species are falling prey to jigs tipped with shrimp as they are bounced along the bottom in areas where you have decent current.

The redifsh have been scarce recently, and when you get one it is only one and not a school. Hopefully all the little guys we were catching earlier this year are just hiding well and will make their presence known in a month or two. Tarpon are still off the beaches, and on the days when you can go chase them they are falling prey to large threads. A lot of the fish are in the 60- to 90-pound range but there are still some real bruisers to tangle with.

Offshore this past week the story of note is the oversized lane snapper that have shown up. Usually a 10-inch lane is the norm, but captains are reporting lanes up to 16 inches. I would imagine a lot of those are ending up on the table for diner.

These fish are being caught on cut bait and/or squid, and they are showing up in water anywhere from 40 to 60 feet. Of course red grouper are still the major target for most offshore fishermen, and keeper sized fish can be caught as close as 7 to 10 miles off the beach over hard bottom.

Getting live bait has been a challenge in most areas. It is still around, and when you find it they are nice sized baits, but filling a live well is not an easy chore. Pinfish are more readily available, and when I have used them recently the snook went after them just fine.

Offshore: Mark Shul and a couple of friends went out for a half-day of fishing Saturday onboard the "Sea Hooker" with Capt. Al. They kept busy with a good bite on the red grouper, but no keepers made the boat. They did get into those big lane snapper mentioned above. Using squid they caught plenty for dinner. A big goliath gave them a shot, but the fish won. It was reported that the water was nice offshore.

Capt. Tommy Robinson ran a full day Saturday and headed well offshore for a shot at some nice keeper red grouper. Tommy was able to get a load of live bait in the net before they left the inlet, and once offshore the red grouper seemed to appreciate his effort. Reds up to a nice 27 1/2 inches were landed. Included in the days catch were a few yellowtail snapper and the monster lanes up to 16 inches.

Before heading for the dock Capt. Tom put his group onto some nice-sized kings. They landed four and kept two up to 30 pounds.

Naples/Estero Bay: Fishing out of Naples, Capt. Steve Sarbara has been hitting the beach for snook. Using live bait he has been finding fish in the 22- to 30-inch range. Switching up after the morning snook bite, Steve has then focused on the passes where he has anglers bouncing a shrimp-tipped jig and hooking up with good-sized pompano (16 to 18 inches at the fork) and some large trout as well. A highlight of the last few days of fishing was a surprise 30-pound tarpon that ate a bait intended for a snook. Steve remarked on how quickly the water cleaned up after the strong winds early last week.

On Thursday I fished with Ed McCoy, Dave Porter and Bill Wilsey of the Brooks fishing club. This was one of the days where we used a mix of pilchards and pinfish and did OK. The group landed more than 20 snook, a flounder and a couple of jacks during their half-day.

Bait was easier Friday, and with a well full of pilchards and Joe Bartelleti and son Joe onboard we first went in search for dinner. The two of them put six nice trout in the 17- to 21-inch range into the well, and then we got serious about snook. In a total of four hours the two of them landed 43 snook! The largest fish was in the six-pound range with most of the fish in the three- to five-pound range. They did a great job with the fish.

Ten Thousand Islands: Down Everglades City way, Capt. Glen Poupolo has been fishing the beaches during the higher stages of the tide and finding good numbers of snook. These fish are ranging up to 32 inches and willing to eat a bait. Mixed in is the occasional redfish in the 18- to 25-inch range. When he can find some cleaner water Glen has been doing well on large trout on the grass flats using a shrimp-tipped jig. The water is still mostly dirty, and temperatures are ranging about 85 degrees.

Running out of Caxambas Pass, Capt. Steve Hatcher says the snook are running four to six weeks late on the normal pattern for this time of year. He says they are finally moving into the mangroves along the beaches and just inside the passes. He has been nailing fish in the 22- to 35-inch range on the high outgoing tides. A few reds are also being caught, but they are scattered. Most of those are in the 18- to 22-inch range.

Since last week’s big blow, Steve says he isn’t seeing as many tarpon rolling. Capt. Hatcher also said that every week getting bait is more of a challenge. His catch of note was angler John Randal and his 33-inch snook and 12 more to go with that monster.

Red snapper season announced for Gulf waters

Anglers will get second crack at red snapper season


The average weight of the individual fish caught has increased nearly three pounds since 2007.By TBO.comPublished: April 29, 2011

The NOAA Fisheries Service has announced that the 2011 recreational red snapper season in the Gulf of Mexico will run from June 1 through July 18.

The 48-day harvesting season is the shortest period since the Fishery Management Council began regulating the species by closing the fishery despite a recent population assessment that found overfishing of the species ended in 2009.

Good news for offshore anglers is that the average weight of the individual fish caught has increased nearly three pounds since 2007.

Increases in average weight are expected to continue as the stock rebuilds and the number of older, larger fish in the population increases.

Fishing Report: Strong winds stir up Gulf waters


Posted May 18, 2011

NAPLES — Surf's up! If you walked on the beach Monday or Tuesday, you could have seen surfing competition instead of anyone fishing.

Wind gusts approaching tropical force have really stirred up the waters of the Gulf and adjoining bays. Perhaps you were lucky enough to have fished Thursday, Friday, or even Saturday, and enjoyed the great bite that was happening both inshore and off.

Inshore, the snook action has been really hot. Even down in the Ten Thousand Islands, where fish stocks were way down after the freeze, the snook have been showing up in reasonably good numbers. Most of the action is toward the outside islands and passes as the snook show up for the annual spawn.

Yellowtail snapper catches Jacks, trout, and even some redfish round out the light tackle targets, while sharks and tarpon are bending the heavier gear. Speaking of trout, some of the year's largest are being caught right now. They are full of eggs, so please release as many as you can.

Tarpon have been more willing to take a bait recently than they have in previous weeks . Fish from the 50- to 60-pound range, up to giants approaching 200 pounds have been hooked by local anglers in the last week. Live threads have been the bait of choice, but a frisky mullet will do in a pinch. These fish are rolling from down in the Islands all the way to Fort Myers Beach. Hopefully when the wild winds die down, we will still have a lot of the silver kings around to chase.

Yellowtail snapper catches by the offshore boats are filling ice chests and making their way to shore for dinner. Lots of chum has been bringing the fish up behind the boats, and drifting a piece of bait back with the chum has been doing the trick. Fish have been ranging up to 20 inches, which is a nice size "flag." Of course, the red grouper bite is still on, and if you are willing to spend some time checking out sections of hard bottom, you could be rewarded with some nice-sized red grouper.

Mackerel and kings are around the bait balls offshore, as well as some jack crevelle and a variety of sharks. Permit are also haunting the offshore structure and wrecks, and given half a chance, they will eat an offered crab.

Ten Thousand Islands : Capt. Rob Walczak had a couple of great trips recently. Gary Gitchell from Michigan and his group set out with Rob for a shot or two at big tarpon, and their expectations were not only met, but exceeded.

During the charter, they jumped 12 fish in the 60- to 120-pound range, and landed (and released) three. On another trip with Hal and Steve from Tennessee, Capt. Rob targeted the inshore fish, and they ended up with one grand slam while catching snook up to 32 inches, reds in the 20- to 23-inch range, trout, and one tarpon. Walczak says that the water was OK before this big blow, and that it will take a few days for the water to settle down.

Fishing out of Caxambas Pass, Capt. Shane Miller says fishing has been pretty good recently. From Cape Romano down to Round Key, the snook fishing has been real good, with most of the fish being found on the outside. Shane says the reds have been somewhat scarce recently.

Late last week, Capt. Miller took Dave from Michigan out, and calm waters allowed a run out to some structure where they tied into three nice permit ranging from 25 to 35 pounds while using live crabs. Mackerel and kings are also to be found a couple of miles off the beaches.

Naples/Estero Bay: While Monday was terrible for Capt. Pat Gould (and everyone else), the weekend was a lot better.

On Friday night, he took Mike Malczewski, his daughter Jess and friend John Solan out for an evening of shark fishing. Using cut mullet and ladyfish for bait, they had a total of 24 hookups, and landed eight sharks from five to seven feet in length. They caught bulls, blacktips, lemons, and even a couple of nurse sharks during the course of the evening. The icing on the cake was a tarpon estimated to be in the 140- to 150-pound range.
Estero was hot Thursday through Saturday, and I am not just talking about the temperature.

I fished with Bart Arrigo and his friends Dan and Brian for two days, and they put some fish in the boat. Using live bait, they put around 50 snook in the boat, and the fish ranged up to six pounds.

On Friday, they wanted some trout for dinner, and they ended up keeping only three of about 12 they caught, all keeper size up to a really fat five-pounder. One redfish of about 20 inches, and a number of jacks up to eight pounds rounded out the catch. Bait was easy one day, and tough by Saturday when the wind started to blow.

Offshore: On a recent trip, Capt. Austin, onboard the "Sea Hooker," took out Barry Zvibleman and family from Naples for a day on the water.

Mrs. Zvibleman wanted fish for dinner, so Capt. Austin had his marching orders. Running out about 25 miles before anchoring up, they were targeting yellowtail snapper. A lot of chum went into the water, and it yielded good results. A total of 40 fish were boated, and most were in the 18- to 20-inch range. Nice flags. They also landed several keeper-sized red grouper up to 27 inches.

Capt. Tommy Robinson has had a couple of three-quarter day trips recently, and his anglers have been bending rods on yellowtail and red grouper, with a bunch of sharpnose sharks thrown in for good measure.

Running out to about 19 miles, he has been finding the grouper scattered over hard bottom, and while targeting the red grouper, his anglers have been hooking and releasing some nice gags up to 29 inches. Mangrove snapper have been scarce, but with the yellowtail bite so good, no one is complaining. Before the blow, the water offshore was "beautiful."

May and June Fishing Red hot and Not just the weather in Naples and Marco

Naples and Marco Island Fishing Report

By Captain Roan z Posted May 16, 2011

Sorry I have been a little lax on getting my new Fishing reports out for April, but I am back and will have them out the rest of the year. Fishing for may has been very good so far. May is fishing much like June. What I mean is I believe we are a month ahead on our fishing this year.

Due to abnormal high temps the fish movement and migrations are running ahead of schedule. Tarpon have been in both inside and out for the last month. The only difficulty is that they have been moving fast and furious. I would expect that to take a turn for the rest of this month. The Tarpon should settle down and start working the flats. Look for them on the outside and in the Passes from Lostmans River to Boca Grande. In North Florida I think they will be showing up early also. I have heard reports of fish Already at Indian Pass and off St. Vincent Island.

Snook Fishing is at its normal blistering pace for this time of the year. The lights are red hot, the Passes are chocked full from Marco North to Redfish pass to our North. Heaviest concentrations around Marco, Naples, and Bonita. South of Marco still a little slow but better reports are coming in all the time.

It seems that the offshore and inshore fish are starting to congregate around the River mouths south of Cape Romano. I still believe Snook Populations are in rebounding condition. They are not stable yet and still need to be protected on the West Coast. When you catch one please release carefully and try not to let the Dolphins get them if you can help it. I hope they are going to keep the season closed for one more year. We have good numbers of fish but they are not back to where we are out of trouble yet.

Redfish are scattered in and around Naples and Marco. Much better to our South and North. Good numbers being caught South of Everglades and North of Pine Island. In between a little week, especially the Ten thousand islands. This time of the year is Snook and Tarpon time anyhow and redfish catches are always incidental. Grouping Sea Trout into the mix look for them on the beaches and to the outside troughs and nearshore wrecks and reefs. Also incidental catch.

Bass fishing in the Glades is probably over for the year. Big numbers anyhow. If the water rises and cools a bit with rain storms we could have a little rebound for the rest of the month. The fish are there but the water is hot and the fish a little lethargic. Early morning and late evening your best shots.

June should be red hot fishing this year. Tarpon and Snook Fishing will be off the hook. Snook are already starting to spawn and they are showing up along beaches and passes to do there thing. Tarpon also are cruising along both inside and out. Small Tarpon that were scattered in may should be getting together with a little June Rain. Small Tarpon really got hurt last year in the Cold and again we need to be gentle with them until our numbers rise. Look to the passes and along the beaches for most of our fishing in June.

Fishing Report: Snook, trout, jack crevelle doing well


Posted May 11, 2011

NAPLES — In May when the poinciana trees bloom, the snook will bite! Well, they are blooming, and the snook are eating up a storm.

Inshore fishing for snook has been very good this past week, and along with the snook, we are seeing some really nice trout mixed in and willing to go after a bait.

Tarpon continue to roam the inshore and nearshore waters, but their eating schedule can be frustrating. Some days the reports are of multiple hookups, and on others, the fish just ignore the baits. Interesting is the report from two different captains fishing for tarpon. One had a great day on Monday, and a disappointing Tuesday fishing for tarpon inshore. The other was just the opposite, and he was fishing a couple of miles offshore. Go figure.

Offshore, it is flag time in the Gulf. Nice-sized yellowtail are showing up in good numbers over ledges and wrecks offshore. Chum them up, and then drift your bait back to them with the chum. Both live and cut bait seem to work.

Of course, the red grouper continue to be a major target of offshore fishermen, and they seem to be working their way a little closer to shore. Fish up to 24 inches are being caught in the 22- to 25-mile range from shore. A few kings and the occasional cobia, as well as a lot of small sharks are adding to the action.

Offshore: Capt. Tom Robinson reported his very first sighting of a whale shark recently. As they approached the large critter, they could see it was accompanied by remoras, pilot fish and several cobia.

The largest of the cobia was hooked, but failed to cooperate and left the scene early. Capt. Robinson says conditions have been very good, and the water offshore is as clear as he has ever seen it this time of year. He is able to see 40 feet down in 60 to 70 feet of water.

On Saturday, Capt. Tom took out the Dan Tripp group for a day on the water, and they limited out on red grouper in the 22- to 24-inch range, and landed and released a number of really big gag grouper using cut bait. Tuesday, a group from Southern Illinois also limited on grouper, and wrestled with a goliath that was finally brought alongside and released. It was estimated to weigh about 180 pounds. Robinson also reports some very good yellowtail action along the offshore breaks.

Onboard the Capt. Marvel, the story is similar. Lots of red grouper are biting aggressively in water about 25 miles offshore. On Tuesday, the group had their limit of 12 red grouper by 10:30, and then landed about 15 yellowtail, a four-foot lemon shark, and a nice, 15-pound king mackerel. In two anchor drops, this group landed around 70 fish!

Naples/Estero Bay: Saturday, I fished Estero Bay with Joe Shannon, Ed Kiminsky, and Tom Davis. In a little over three hours, these guys landed about a dozen trout, including five keepers 18-22 inches, and a huge, 8-pound/30-inch monster trout.

Oh yeah, they brought about 30 or so nice snook to about 26 inches to the boat as well. Bait was tough to come by that day and we used every single one I netted. The water was fairly nice, and the tide moved the water well.

Fishing out of Naples, Capt. Tim Daugherty says the snook fishing is the best of the year. He says the water down in the Naples area is super clear, and on the last of the incoming tide he is clobbering the snook.

He mostly has been using live bait, but he has had anglers throwing a fly early in the morning and getting good action on small gurglers. Some nice trout in the 18- to 22-inch range are mixed in with the snook. The tarpon that Tim has seen have been turning down any baits thrown at them.

Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Jeff Legutki has been concentrating on tarpon recently, and been doing well most days.

On Monday of this week, he had Dave Morris from San Francisco onboard, and they jumped 10 tarpon, and got four to the boat ... on fly! These fish were mostly in the 30- to 60-pound range, but one real big boy of about 130 pounds joined the fray.

Tuesday, with better conditions and the same tide, Jeff was looking to repeat the previous day's action, but someone forgot to tell the tarpon they were supposed to show up.

Running out of Goodland, Capt. Stacy Mullendore also has been focusing on tarpon in recent days.

He has been chasing the bigger fish a couple of miles off the beach. On Tuesday, he had the Ken Main group on board, and the fish cooperated. While only one stayed on all the way to the boat, a total of 11 were hooked and provided the anglers with many spectacular jumps before leaving. Also hooked were about eight blacktip sharks. Stacy says he is catching good numbers of snook and trout around the outside islands, but the reds have become scarce.

Fishing Report: Snook, trout, jack crevelle doing well


Posted May 4, 2011

NAPLES — Novice angler to guide: "Where are the fish?" Guide to novice angler: "In the water!"

That's the way it has been the last week. The fish are there, and when you get on them, they are willing to take a bait.

Inshore, the snook fishing has been fairly good around the passes and on the beaches. In the back around the bushes during the higher tide stages, the reds can be had, but they are scattered around, and it's one or two, not 10 or 20.

Some nice trout are also being caught. When you get into them, you can expect fish in the 18- to 22-inch range, and they are full of eggs. Jack crevelle are also ranging around the beaches and passes, with some of these fish over 10 pounds. Once hooked, they just don't want to give up.

When wind conditions permit, boats are running off the beach in search of the big, migrating tarpon. Finding them is only part of the problem. Getting them to eat is another story.

Offshore, red grouper continue to be the target fish for most anglers. Some nice fish over 10 pounds are being caught, especially if you head out to water 60 to 85 feet deep. Live bait or cut sardines will do the trick, and there are plenty of small sharks out there to add to the action.

Offshore: Onboard the "Cuda," Capt. Mike Lucas has been doing well with the red grouper in 60 to 65 feet of water.

Using live bait, he has been bagging some nice keeper reds and a lot of sharks, too. On Tuesday's trip, he put five nice keepers on ice, and then put the boat on a school of smaller kings. Fish in the 8- to 10-pound range were caught on Tuesday, but Mike also has been getting a fair number of larger kings. For all you dolphin (the fish) anglers, Mike heads down to the keys for June to chase these tasty and sporty fish. Give him a call.

Capt. Mike Avinon has been taking the "Capt. Marvel" out to about 75-85 feet of water for his red grouper fishing. On Tuesday, his anglers limited out, with fish up to 14 pounds. Using live bait, Mike then set up on some amberjack, and his anglers boated limits to 26 pounds. Capt. Mike says the trip out in the morning was a bit bumpy, but the wind laid down, and it was real nice out there.

Ten Thousand Islands: "Decent" is how Capt. Peter Babb describes the fishing in the Ten Thousand Islands.

On Saturday, he took out Ben Upoff, his brother Joe, and brother-in-law Ryan for a day of inshore fishing.

With bait on the scarce side, Peter started off throwing surface plugs, and the fish were all over them. Four slot reds in the 18- to 24-inch range, and an assortment of snook and jack crevelle provided a lot of action that lasted into the afternoon. Capt. Babb has been seeing a fair number of rolling tarpon, but getting them to eat has been a challenge.

Capt. Matt Hoover has been working over the tarpon, using cut baits in the passes and offshore. Once they are done with that, he has been putting the remaining time to good use. He has been doing well on snook. On Monday, Jim Cross landed a 13 1/2-pound monster that measured 35 inches.

Matt is finding most of his snook near the outside points and around passes. He is also finding a handful of red farther in the back. Bait has been fairly available, and he has been putting both pilchards and threads into the wells.

Naples/Estero Bay: Down in Naples, Capt. Tim Dougherty has been nailing lots of snook in the early mornings.

He is fishing around the outside of islands and passes, where the snook are congregating. He gets them going by throwing a lot of chum into the water, and then has anglers cast to the boils. Along with the snook, his anglers are running into some very healthy trout up to 22 inches. They also are eating the whitebait.

Some reds and little snook are being caught farther in the back. Tarpon are rolling, and hopefully this week will start eating on the outgoing tide.

Up in Estero Bay, Capt. Mike McDonald has been working the passes for a mixed bag, including Spanish mackerel and trout. Mike says that he recently hasn't been seeing the larger trout that had been around last week. Ladyfish and jacks are providing a lot of the action, and are hitting shrimp on a jig. The water has been stirred up the last few days by the wind, and once it slows up, the fishing action should pick up.

Fishing Report: Snook coming on strong


Posted April 27, 2011 at 8:07 a.m.

NAPLES — Happy April = Happy Fishing! Warm water + good tides = Good Fishing!

With the equations out of the way, we can now get to the heart of the fishing report.

Along the beaches and in the bays, the snook are showing up in good numbers, and even more importantly, they are willing to eat. You will see a lot of fish in the three- to five-pound range, with some truly large fish mixed in.

The other day, one of my anglers got a nice snook close to the boat, and that is when we noticed the monster that followed "Junior" all the way to the boat. Another scenario like that is detailed in the Ten Thousand Islands report.

Reds seem to have slowed down recently, with only the anglers in the Islands reporting significant catches. Again this week, reports of large trout willing to eat a pilchard are coming in from all inshore areas. A few pompano, sharks, and the occasional small tarpon are rounding out the catches.

Offshore is all about red grouper once again. Anglers are finding an occasional keeper-sized fish as close as six miles off the beach. Boats venturing out into water 75 to 85 feet deep are finding nice groups of fish, ranging from 20 to 28 inches, and as a plus for the longer runs, they are also scoring some nice yellowtail and mangrove snapper.

Get on a wreck, and there is a good chance of finding some arm-breaking amberjacks. Two of the captains I spoke with had encounters with big bull sharks this week, and the kings are certainly still around. Water offshore is very clear, with reports of 40- to 45-foot visibility and temperatures in the upper-70s.

For you offshore fishing enthusiasts, there are some public hearings scheduled that deal with overfishing, and gag grouper specifically. They will be held on Monday and Tuesday at the Clarion Hotel at 12635 Cleveland Ave. in Fort Myers. Monday's meeting starts at 2 p.m., and on Tuesday things get under way at 3 p.m.

This weekend, the 14th annual Gene Doyle Tournament will be held, with launch sites at Estero Bay, Goodland, and Everglades City.

The tournament in in honor of forever young Gene Doyle, who died in a car accident. From the stories I have heard over the years, Gene was really a special person both on and off the water, and this fishing tournament is a great way to honor his life.

Proceeds from the tournament go to sponsor Collier County high school students who will undertake "Adventure/Learning Encounters" that truly have changed their lives. Go to for more information.

Offshore: Angler Tom Kozlow took his 6-year-old daughter Abigale out for a day of grouper fishing recently.

While soaking cut bait on the bottom, Tom saw some surface activity behind the boat, and thought maybe some Spanish mackerel were moving through. He was about to get a rod to cast to them, when one of the bottom rods doubled over, and young Abigale took over (with help from Dad of course). After scrambling around the boat's top and halting the screaming fish, she settled into a 10-minute battle with what ended up being a 38-inch king mackerel. Great job, fisherwoman!

Capt. Michael Avinon says the offshore conditions have been great recently, and the fish have also been cooperating.

On half-day trips, he has been venturing about eight to 10 miles off the beach for his fishing. There, he is picking up a mixed bag of Spanish mackerel, short grouper, snapper and sometimes a real surprise.

The other day while chumming up some jack crevelle to bend the rods, some large dark shapes showed up. Using a recently caught jack for bait, anglers quickly hooked up to some very large bull sharks, and then it was fight on.

For his full-day trips, Mike has been running out to 32 to 35 miles to the deeper ledges.. There he is finding limits of red grouper for all the anglers on the boat. For these fish, which are running to 28 inches, he is using cut bait and squid.

After the limits are in the box, he is then moving to his amberjack spots, where fish in the 20- to 25-pound range are wearing out the arms of all aboard.

Onboard the "Sea Legs," Capt. Tom Robinson has also been running a combination of half- and full-day trips out of the Naples City Docks.

On the half days, he is finding a few keeper red grouper mixed in with the shorts. He also has had encounters with sharks small and large, with one eight-footer leading the boat on a half-mile chase before giving up to the angler.

Full-day trips are taking them out 26 to 30 miles offshore, where the limits of red grouper are being caught. On Monday's trip they landed nine keepers in just one stop. Nice-sized yellowtail and mangrove snapper are being caught around ledges in this deeper water.

A few kings are being hooked, and a 29-inch gag was released on a recent trip. Capt. Tom says that the goliaths are starting to get aggressive again, and warns anglers to get their catch up to the surface quickly before Mr. Goliath can inhale your dinner.

Naples/Estero Bay : Fishing out of Naples is good, according to Capt. Pat Gould, who says that there are a lot of snook everywhere, and that if the water is moving, the fish are biting.

He is using live bait, and casting the shorelines, where the fish are in the three- to five-pound range with an occasional larger fish pouncing on a bait. Pat is also seeing a fair number of large tarpon in the back bays, and hooking up with the occasional giant while fishing for snook.

Trout in the 20-inch range are also eagerly taking the pilchards, and Capt. Pat is getting two or three every trip. On a recent trip that he describes as one of the best he has ever had, two anglers boated upwards of 75 snook and 10 reds for a full day of fishing.

Capt. Mike McDonald has been seeing some nice-sized mangrove snapper moving into the bay. He has also been putting anglers on to trout up to 22 inches using shrimp under a popping cork. A few rat reds and undersized snook are hitting the shrimp under a cork, too. Capt. Mike reports seeing large tarpon around Big Carlos Pass in the mornings.

Ten Thousand Islands: Angler Karin Raye was fishing with Capt. Rob Walczak recently, when she made the catch of a lifetime.

While tossing out a pilchard, she hooked up with a huge snook in about four feet of water. After a tense few minutes, she landed a fish estimated to go over 35 pounds (the boca only goes to 30!). This fish had a 24-inch girth, and measured 46 inches long. This fish was followed to the boat by a couple other snook in the 20-pound class.

On a trip Monday, Rob had angler Tom Dahlberg and sons along. Tom landed a very respectable 38-inch snook, and the boys managed about 12 other snook, and a 25-inch trout for their efforts. To end things up, they jumped a tarpon in the 40-pound range. Nice day.

Capt. Bill Jones recently took out a couple. The husband bought his wife a new rod, and scheduled the trip for her birthday.

Using live bait, they pulled in six snook in the 24- to 32-inch range, five reds (one over-slot, 31-inch fish), and a couple of trout over 20 inches. Great way to celebrate her birthday; she ended up catching most of the fish.

Bill says the water is still dirty looking. Some schools of threads are showing up offshore, and they are being eaten by some large tarpon. Bill jumped one Sunday in the 130-pound range. If the wind stops he hopes to tangle with more of the big guys soon.

South of Marco, Capt. Shane Miller has been doing well on snook. On Monday, he took Gary Stinchoff and his wife out for some fishing, and they nailed some nice snook. The largest was a big, 34-inch fish, with lots of fish in the 24- to 28-inch range.

Shane has been netting live bait each morning, and snook aren't the only fish eating them. Tuesday morning while snook fishing, he had an angler throw away from the shore and bang, fish on. He had found a nice school of large trout, and his anglers ended up with six fish over 20 inches, and about 20 in the 18- to 19-inch range.

Unlikely niche: Blue Ridge Aquaculture has become the country’s biggest producer in indoor-raised tilapia

In a region better known for NASCAR and manufacturing plants, Blue Ridge Aquaculture has become the country's biggest producer of indoor-raised tilapia.

By Jorge Valencia | The Roanoke TimesTilapia swim in pools at Blue Ridge Aquaculture. The Ridgeway company breeds and raises fish for restaurants and stores.

Photos by Kyle Green |The Roanoke Times Tilapia swim in pools at Blue Ridge Aquaculture. The Ridgeway company breeds and raises fish for restaurants and stores.

Brent Kesler, an aquaculture technician with the company, tends to tilapia eggs.

RIDGEWAY -- Displaced furniture workers harvest more than 5,000 fish every day from this farm near Martinsville Speedway.

They pump them into white tanks that -- like some of the chairs they used to assemble -- are hauled in 18-wheeler trucks to buyers in Washington, Toronto and points in between.

"I'd drive by and I'd see guys driving with 'Live Fish' on the side of the truck. I was like, 'Man, that looks like it's a fun job,' " former furniture worker Allen Jackson said on a recent morning.

Some 35 people work for Blue Ridge Aquaculture, an 18-year-old company that has become the country's biggest producer in its niche market: indoor-raised tilapia. Innovative businesses such as this one are changing the work force in a region better known for its NASCAR races and manufacturing plants that closed because their production was outsourced.

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