Naples Fishing November 2012


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Fishing Report: Chilly temperatures slowing down morning action

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted November 28, 2012

NAPLES — Windy weather over Thanksgiving made for some rough rides offshore, and some stirred up water inshore. As of Monday we were seeing water temperatures in the low 60s, which really slowed down the early morning snook and redfish bite.

By the weekend, the wind started to abate and conditions improved. Schools of live bait seemed to be holding well off the beaches, but on incoming tide, the "rivers" of small glass minnows could be seen along the islands in the bays.

Inshore, we are starting to see more sheepshead and trout being caught. While there are a few hefty sheepies being brought in, most of the shrimp stealers are undersized. Trout are roaming the bays, both in the deeper cuts and on the grass flats. Reds are not as active as they had been, but a lot of that depends on where you are fishing.

Down in the Ten Thousand Islands, there seems to be a better population, and more reds are being caught. In Naples and Estero, snook seem to have the greater numbers. Anglers working the cuts and inlets are coming up with some pompano, and they range from little guys to nice two- and three-pound fish. Small tipped jigs at this time of year are a great way to fish and come up with a good variety of species.

Offshore: Capt. Michael Avinon reports that recent trips on the "Findictive" have ranged anywhere from 10 to 45 miles off the beach. During the rougher days last week, half-day and three-quarter day trips produced fish, but Capt. Michael says the cooler water has started to move the red grouper out to deeper water.

On Monday, he ran a full-day trip with Gary Zera and other members of the Naples Fishing Club, and they went out to 90 feet of water, where the big red grouper were quite willing to eat a cut bait. They put 20 keepers on ice, and they ranged up to 15 pounds. Other keeper size fish were released. Avinon also states that the amberjacks are starting to move closer to shore.

Steve Conte and family went out with Capt. Ed Nichols for a half-day trip recently, and they had plenty of action. In addition to the four keeper red grouper to 25 inches, the group did quite well on snapper. About a dozen mangrove snapper to two pounds, and a whole slew of big lanes (14 to 17 inches) kept the anglers busy. They battled rough water too on their ride to about 12 miles off the beach, but the results were worth it. Capt. Ed said they used cut sardines as bait, and the water was somewhat stirred up, which helped the snapper bite.

Capt. Pete Rosko of Capt. Pete's Bait and Tackle in Naples reports that Pat Zilch hooked up with a giant redfish about 10 miles off Marco Island. Pat was using a Cripple Herring jig when the fish hit, and when it was boated for a picture, it measured over 39 inches.

Freshwater: Golden Gate Tacklebox reports that the cooler water has continued to help the bass and snook bite in the lakes. This full moon will mark the start of the bass spawn next month, and the best fishing months for largemouth bass.

Water in the Seven Lakes is very clear, and live bait on light terminal tackle is the ticket to success. Jess Edwards states that the water is so clear that the fish can tell the difference between one brand of rubber worm and another, and that artificials just don't work well now.

Ten Thousand Islands: Cold water has slowed the redfish bite, according to Capt. Aron Blaisdell. Fishing out of Goodland, Aron has been using jigs tipped with shrimp on most recent trips. Trout, small snook, reds and pompano are all hitting, but the better bite is later in the morning into the afternoon.

Later in the day, he has been working the back bay using a shrimp under a popping cork, and finding better-sized redfish. Fishing with Skip Brown of Marco and his grandkids from Maryland recently, they had a good day on a variety of fish. At the end of the half-day trip, they went into a back bay where they landed a 27-, 28-, and 30-inch red.

Naples/Estero: Capt. Neil Eisner says that the cold water has definitely caused a slowdown of fish activity first thing in the morning. As the sun gets up, the fish become a lot more cooperative.

He has been finding a lot of sheepshead around the oyster bars, and they range from the annoying bait sealers to nice keeper fish. Anglers are using a small quarter-ounce jig tipped with a shrimp.

Neil has also been getting reds from the shorts to low slot size on the same rig. Trout are roaming the grass flats, and he has his anglers use a shrimp suspended under a popping cork. With that setup, some of the bites come from large hungry jacks that are zooming all over the bays. A few pompano have also been caught.

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Fishing Report: Action has varied depending upon day and tide

Posted November 21, 2012

Naples - Well, besides turkey on this Thursday, we will be having another light cold front moving into area waters. Winds will be out of the north or northwest until Sunday night, when they are scheduled to turn northeast.

While the temperatures at night will get into the low 50s for a few days, by Monday we will warm right back up. Next week, anglers should enjoy temps into the 80-degree range and lighter winds, which will make for favorable conditions for the last week in November. Not too bad!

In recent days, fishing has ranged from great to tough, depending on where you were on what day and what the tide was doing in that area.

Now that we are in that time of year when we get forecast low tides in the negative range, it is especially important to be aware of wind direction and strength. With a strong east wind a -.2 can easily turn into a -1.0 tide for a low, and that means that a lot of new real estate pops up in places where you may have caught a fish the week before. Be careful when zooming across flats, and even marked channels can be a problem.

Offshore: Conditions this past week have been less than perfect. With strong winds it made for some bumpy trips away from the sand. Capt. Tom Robinson, onboard the "Sea Legs," has been out on most days, with a three-quarter day trip the most popular.

He has been able to put clients onto some decent fishing, with king mackerel making a hit with anglers. On a recent trip with Dan Olsen and friends, they battled five-foot seas as well as the fish. They landed some kings, and had a really big one spool a reel. The kings are up to 20 pounds and are a blast on spinning tackle.

In addition to the kings, Tom has had anglers boating keeper red grouper to 26 inches and releasing keeper-sized gags. A shark or two also are in the mix, but the big fish story of the week was the 200-pound goliath that was brought to the boat for pictures before being released.

Freshwater: Jess Edwards from Golden Gate Tackle reports that the canal temperatures dropped to about 73 degrees, which has slowed the peacock bass bite until midafternoon on sunny days. The same change has really turned on the largemouth bass bite, though.

Along with the bass, snook and baby tarpon (5 to 15 pounds) are biting well in the canal systems in the Golden Gate area and along Alligator Alley. By the way, the phone company failed to list the number for the tackle shop. It is 348-8771.

Naples/Estero Bay: Capt. Tim Daugherty has been fishing both Naples and Estero Bay this past week, and conditions have been hit or miss depending mostly on water movement.

The real low tides have limited many areas, but the plus side is that this tends to concentrate the fish in the deeper cuts and channels. He has been finding some reds, trout, and even some pompano in those areas using either a Gulp shrimp or a real shrimp on a light jig head.

The reds he has been getting are ranging from 17-inch shorts to decent mid-slot fish. Trout are sized from 14 to 17 inches. As the tide comes up, Tim has been using cut ladyfish in the bushes for better-sized reds and some nice snook. For the pompano, white or yellow jigs seem to work the best.

Ten Thousand Islands: Pavilion Key to Camp Lulu has been the most frequent fishing range for Capt. Jesse Karen recently, and the fishing has been great. Water temps have cooled somewhat, but that hasn't stopped the fish. Lots of mid-sized reds and some real big trout have been caught on the last half of the incoming tides.

On a recent trip with Ken Canizzo, Capt. Jesse headed well south into the park to fish some creeks that he hasn't fished in a few years, and the results for Ken were three legal-sized gag grouper from under the banks. if you have never tangled with one of these backwater gags, you have no idea how hard they fight. Live bait and shrimp on a jig have been the baits of choice.

Capt. Pete Rapps had a recent trip with Lee Weiss from Fort Lauderdale and a couple of friends, Nick and Per from Sweden. They fished the incoming tide with pilchards, and endured a brisk easterly wind, but the result was great.

Among the 14 or so snook landed, Nick had the largest at 36 inches, but Lee pulled in a very respectable 30-inch fish. The balance of the fish were in the 20- to 26-inch range. They then went out to the flats for trout, where they landed about 40, with a dozen over 15 inches and a large fish of 25 inches.

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Fishing Report: Be ready for a battle if you tangle with an amberjack

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted November 14, 2012

NAPLES — On Tuesday, the winds finally died down somewhat, and that made for easier fishing both inshore and off.

The inshore bite has been pretty good even though the water temperature dropped into the upper 50s on Friday. We are still seeing good live bait availability, and there is a lot of small bait in the bays, which is keeping the fish in an eating mode.

The normal snook, reds, and amberjacks are now being supplemented by flounder, drum, and mackerel. Spanish mackerel are to be found just outside the passes and well into the back as they follow the rivers of bait on an incoming tide. These mackerel are nice-sized, ranging up to three pounds, and when they hit it is at 90 miles per hour.

Larger jacks are also roaming the bays, and when one of the big boys hits you may have to raise anchor and chase the fish or risk being spooled. On Tuesday, I had an angler named Peter tangle with a fish that weighed in at 12 1/2 pounds. Pound for pound, they are the strongest inshore fish around.

Offshore, the winds had curtailed some of the trips, and those that did get out stayed closer to shore. Red grouper are still around in good numbers and willing to eat a cut sardine.

By the way, as mentioned last week, the two-month closure for the red grouper has been eliminated, but we don't know when the rule will be implemented. Hopefully, it will be prior to Feb. 1, but it may start after that date.

Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Rob Walczak fished on Saturday with Steve Murray from Islamorada, and they did very well on snook and reds. Rob was using jigs tipped with shrimp. He started the day with 10 dozen, and used every one of them by day's end.

Over 25 snook and 35 reds fell for the jigs that were worked around bars and mangroves. Most of the snook were in the 18- to 20-inch range, and the reds ranged from shorts to fish well in the slot. With the cooler water, Capt. Walczak also found a half-dozen nice trout, three black drum in the five-pound range, and some snapper. Water quality was good, but the tide was a weak incoming due to the strong east wind.

Naples/Estero Bay: On Saturday and Sunday, I fished Estero Bay and Wiggins Pass with Earl Brinker, "Big Fish" Fred Clayton and his son, Fred. Other than some pretty strong easterly winds, everything else was great.

We started off early with two wells of nice pilchards, and the rest was history. Saturday, the guys landed 34 snook and six reds as well as flounder and trout. The largest red was 6 1/2 pounds, and the rest were smaller, but in the slot.

Most of the snook were in the 16- to 22-inch range with a few larger mixed in. Some of the jacks were pretty good-sized, and the largest we managed to land was 8 1/2 pounds.

Sunday was a repeat performance, with a few more snook than on Saturday, and another half-dozen nice reds. In spite of the wind, the water was not bad, even though we started out with a 58-degree reading on Saturday, which improved to 66 by Sunday.

Offshore: Capt. Michael Avinon took the "Findicator" on an offshore run on Saturday for a half day. He stopped at the head pin and made one through for bait, and with the baitwell full, headed out to about 12 miles.

Once in the area it was a king mackerel blitz. The fish were eating up the live pilchards, which were fished on 20-pound spinning tackle. At least 30 kings were brought to the boat, and they ranged up to 12 pounds.

For a real workout, a goliath weighing in at about 100 pounds was brought boatside and released. Capt. Michael reports that the red grouper are still plentiful and quite willing to eat cut herring or squid. He also reports that there is spotty red tide inside of seven miles.

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Fishing Report: Good news for grouper fishermen

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted November 7, 2012

NAPLES — Some great news for all the grouper fishermen — and ladies, too. Thanks to the major effort made by Tom Marvel, the Gulf Council has made a significant change that will benefit anglers.

First of all, the February-March closed season — during which no grouper were allowed — is being changed. Red grouper will be open all year, starting in 2013. Gag grouper season also will be changed, and will be in the form of a split season. The first part will be from June 1 to July 15, and the second will start sometime in the fall, and end on Dec. 31. The total length of the second part of the season will be determined sometime soon. Opening gag grouper fishing during the cooler months is a plus for us since during the hot months they tend to go well off shore. Again, thank you, Tom!

Last weekend marked the annual RedSnook Tournament that benefits the Conservancy. Turnout was great, and a great time was had by all, but maybe the most important thing is the $125,000 that was raised to go toward game fish research and water quality protection.

With a cool front coming in Tuesday night, we will see somewhat cooler water temperatures, and some breezy days, especially over the weekend. Our tides for the next week will be better, and fishing should continue to be good.

On the inshore scene, both snook and reds are still on the feed, and packs of hungry jacks are bending rods up and down the coast. Live bait is still readily available along area beaches, but shrimp are also working well. A few trout have been reported, and I would expect to see more of them as the water cools some.

Last week was a tough one for the offshore boats due to the high winds. By the weekend, the winds had diminished. Even though the water was still fairly dirty, that actually helped the snapper fishing. Good grouper catches were reported from boats traveling well offshore.

Another plus is that the king mackerel are starting to show up in local waters, and larger numbers will be seen in the next few weeks.

Offshore: Capt. Clarence Fleck, onboard the “Capt. Marvel,” took advantage of the dirty water to put a group of anglers onto a good yellowtail snapper bite. They put 14 keepers in the boat, with the fish ranging to three pounds. After the snapper, Capt. Fleck headed to some hard bottom and got in to the red grouper. Lots of fish were caught, and seven keepers went into the cooler. A few kings have been seen on recent trips.

The “Findictive” ran a full day recently, and Capt. Michael Avinon says the water was still dirty, but the fishing was very good anyway. He ran out to 80 feet of water, where his anglers were baited up with squid and cut herring, and the grouper slurped it up.

At the end of the day, 17 red grouper to 17 pounds were boated. As a bonus, a nice, 20-pound king was landed. Capt. Avinon echoes the other reports about the kings, and agrees the main schools will be here in a few weeks.

Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Pete Rapps has been out the last three days, and he reports that the reds have been on the feed mostly during the incoming tide. They are eating either live pilchards or a nice shrimp.

Most are being caught up close to the mangroves, but an angler named Eric hooked up with a big bull on the outside, and it ended up weighing 19 1/2 pounds! Pete says that the snook bite has been better on the outgoing tide, with most of the fish running in the 2- to 3-pound range, but a recent 30-inch fish points out that you never know what size fish is lurking in the bushes. Capt. Rapps also has been catching a few trout as “by catch” while working the reds and snook.

Naples/Estero Bay: On Saturday, I took out Bill Hickman for a day on the water. We loaded up with nice pilchards, and started in Estero. We caught some snook and jacks before the tide died.

Then we went out looking for triple tail, and after a few miles of “looking,” we finally saw a nice one. Bill made the cast, and the result was a nice, seven-pound “tail” for dinner. With the tide having changed, we went into Wiggins Pass, and the bite was much better. We landed over 20 snook, lots of jacks, and some snapper. The snook ranged up to about 28 inches.

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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.

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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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