Naples Fishing October 2012


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Fishing Report: High winds mean stirred up water

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted October 31, 2012

NAPLES — In case you hadn't noticed the wind has been blowing rather hard for the last week. Most of that time it has been coming out of a northerly direction, which means that in addition to having some really stirred up water, the temperature also will be dropping.

While this is our first really serious cold front of the year -- and I hope we have to wait a long time for the next one -- we are beginning the transition from our warm water fishing to cooler water temperatures. Down here, we really only have the two main seasons, each marked by a transition period where we warm up in the spring and cool down in the late fall. As water temperatures continue to cool, the techniques used will change and even the fish targeted will be somewhat different.

Trout, sheepshead, ladyfish are more common when the water is cool/cold, and snook and tarpon when it is warm. Live bait will give way to shrimp in the cooler months. Snook are still around, but they don't do well in cold water and coaxing a bite can be difficult.

For now we will hope that November, for the most part, will still be more warm than cold, because warm water catching is more exciting than in the cold months.

A note about grouper: Even though the gag grouper season is ending, our red grouper season is still going strong, so once the seas settle down, get out there and look for some good hard bottom and catch dinner. There is a vote this week by the Gulf Council that will hopefully eliminate the winter closure on red grouper.

Freshwater: A big thank you to the Golden Gate Tacklebox for a fresh water report on Lake Trafford. Now is the time of year for a shot at the "Golden Gate Slam" where it is possible to land a largmouth bass, peacock bass, snook and tarpon all in the same area and on the same bait.

Get a bunch of shiners and give it a shot. With the full moon, the shellcrackers will be active, too. Panfishing on worms is quite productive, and great for anglers young and old.

Offshore: High winds have kept the offshore fleet at the dock, but Capt. Tom Robinson did manage a couple of near shore trips last week before the winds got too bad.

Fishing eight to nine miles off the sand on two different trips, his anglers were kept busy with snapper, short grouper, and grunts on the one trip, and on the other they boated six keeper red grouper. Conditions were deteriorating, and Capt. Tom says that it will take a couple of days after the wind stops for the sand to start settling out. As that happens, he expects the snapper to really turn on.

Naples/Estero Bay: Capt. Todd Geroy reports an awesome week of fishing though last Friday. Both snook and redfish have been plentiful, and more than willing to eat the live pilchards tossed their way.

Up to 20 reds per trip have been caught on the higher end of the tide, working a free-lined bait along the mangroves. Fish averaged about 23 inches, but there were some reds over 29 inches, too. Snook were to be found in many of the same haunts as the reds, with most in the 18- to 24-inch range, but Todd reports that they tangled with a number of really large fish in the 15- to 20-pound range, too.

On Friday morning, he fished with Chris Mans and his cousin Peter Mans, and the duo were kept busy hauling in reds and snook. They tied into a couple of bruiser snook that created a lot of excitement, but in the end the fish found the mangroves.

Ten Thousand Islands: Fishing on Thursday, Capt. Rob Walczak ran south out of Goodland, and fished in Everglades National Park. Using jigs and plugs, his anglers landed over 20 reds that ranged from 21 to almost 27 inches.

A couple of trout and a few snook added to the action, but the surprise of the day was the six big flounder that went for the jigs. Rob said the water at that time was still in pretty good condition, but that with this northwest screamer that will have changed. Also Capt. Walczak stated that this fall bait run is one of the best in many years.

If you have a report to share, send it to

Fishing Report: Red tide is around, but very spotty

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted October 24, 2012

NAPLES — Red tide has been causing some very localized problems for area fishermen, but hopefully the big wind we are having this week will help to greatly dissipate it. And it has been spotty indeed.

On Tuesday morning, I was at Lovers Key and the water was clear and loaded with bait. That same morning my wife walked the beach near Docks Restaurant in Bonita, and she had to leave the beach because of the dead fish. Go figure!

Generally, water conditions have been very good for inshore and offshore anglers. The predominately easterly wind pattern has allowed the water to clear right up. We also are in the midst of the annual fall bait run, and there are "rivers" of bait moving in and out of the inlets. This gives the snook, reds, and other species a continuous buffet to feed on.

While this does attract a lot of critters, it can make them a little less likely to hit your offering when they have so much to choose from. Try to make your offering look different. Use the bigger baits in your well or try a chunk of ladyfish amongst the "oodles" of bait. Early in the morning try a topwater, though the bait pods or use a jig below them.

As this is being written, we are expecting a mild cold front to pass through in the next day or two. This will not cause water temperatures to dive, and by the end of the week, the strong winds should start to subside just in time for the weekend.

Not only is Halloween coming, we are also at the end of this year's gag season. According to Capt. Tom Marvel, there was a public hearing this past week to discuss the possibility of doing something (a split gag season) about the current restrictions on grouper. The two-month complete closure also is up for possible changes. One representative from the Gulf Council was there to hear local concerns and a vote is due next week. Here's hoping!

Offshore: Capt. Ed Nichols is back in town after his summer sabbatical up north. He reports that on a trip with John Barensta and his wife, the red grouper were very cooperative. Running just 11 miles off the beach, Ed put the couple on a nice pile of fish. They limited out with red grouper running to 23 inches.

They also encountered some nice-sized lane snapper in the 15- to 18-inch range. Three sharks, including two lemons, were also caught and released. Capt. Nichols saw no sign of red tide, and he said the water was very nice.

On the "Capt. Marvel", Capt. Clarence Fleck said the red grouper fishing is as good as it gets. On his full day runs he has been heading out to about 65 feet of water for his first drop and the fish have been keeping customers happy. Capt. Fleck also notes that the gags are returning to the wrecks. On his most recent trip the crew boated twelve red grouper and two gags to 15 pounds. No signs of red tide past 35 feet of water.

Naples/Estero Bay: Fishing down in Naples, Capt. Tim Daugherty has been enjoying a great snook bite using live pilchards for bait. He also has been scoring both snook and reds while sight fishing in two feet of water or less first thing in the mornings. For that, he typically has one angler throwing a topwater and another angler tossing a jig/Gulp shrimp. If the fish misses the topwater, it usually picks up the Gulp.

Tim also reports that bait is all over the place. Some pompano are showing up and will take the jig/shrimp combo. While stalking fish in the backcountry, Tim also is seeing some baby tarpon around the creeks, and they are willing to take a live pilchard tossed thier way. Capt. Daugherty says he has seen very little signs of red tide down his way.

On Tuesday, 83-year-old Joe Bloom with the Brooks Fishing Club made our trip by landing a 21-pound tarpon on a 12-pound spinning outfit. He handled it like a pro!

Ten Thousand Islands: Running out of Goodland, Capt. Matt Hoover has been enjoying some great fishing on recent trips. Loading up on live bait, he has been working key areas around bars and points where a variety of fish have been willing to eat.

Reds, mostly in the slot, have been really on the feed, along with small to medium snook. Along with those species, Matt has been catching legal-sized trout, ladyfish, and mackerel.

Matt reports that the fall bait run is in full swing, and sometimes there is so much bait that it seems that the fish are ignoring the bait offering from his anglers. In those situations, he is finding that chunks of ladyfish will earn a bite from both snook and reds. He has seen a few tarpon recently, but no hook ups. Capt. Hoover reports that there are spotty reports of red tide down in the Ten Thousand Islands.

If you have a report to share, send it to

Fishing Report: With bait aplenty, give the fish something good to look at

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted October 17, 2012

NAPLES — Fishing has been reasonably good the past week, even though we had some pesky strong winds over the weekend. The wind stirred up the water in many areas, but by Tuesday the water quality had improved in many places.

With the predominately east or northeast winds, the beach waters have remained good, and bait continues to swarm along the beaches and is forced into the bays with the tide.

Speaking of tides, the strong winds have wrecked havoc with the tide schedules. On Tuesday, the tide was supposed to be low (in Estero) by 8:30 in the morning, but at 9:30 it was still pouring out, and when it started to come in, it took quite a while before we had any appreciable increase in the water level.

Inshore, snook and reds are getting most of the angling attention, but trout are making their presence known. Some catches of fish up to 20 inches are being reported. On Tuesday, Capt. Bill Curtis was cleaning a nice mess of trout for his customer in Estero Bay.

With all the bait pouring into the bays, the fish are having no problem with food availability. The key is to present to them something worthwhile. If you get something in front of them that looks like a larger or more desirable "portion," it is likely to entice a bite.

Look around the large schools of mullet for trailing reds. A piece of cut lady fish can be deadly on these spot tails at this time of year. Some larger reds are now appearing as we see the fall run of the bigger fish.

Snook can be found anywhere the food is, and that means from the beaches to the backcountry. Early morning surface lures can produce some great action, but for consistency nothing works like a live bait.

It is still not too late in the year for a tarpon experience. They can be found around the passes, either early in the morning or later in the evening, both times where boat traffic is at a minimum. At this time of the year, a live mullet it the best ticket.

With only days until the end of the 2012 gag grouper season, your shot at a great fish dinner is limited. If the winds cooperate and you get offshore, look for the nice ledges for the gags.

Red grouper are frequently found on areas of hard bottom, but can be mixed with a gag or two. While offshore, anything from a tarpon, shark or school of mackerel can be encountered. If you are looking for a big puller, try a chunk of cut bait on the bottom, and you might be rewarded with a visit from a large shark or a monster goliath grouper.

Offshore: Tom Marvel reports that Capt. Clarence had a great full day recently on the "Capt. Marvel." Running out to about 28 miles for the first drop, they were quickly into the fish. By the end of just two drops of the anchor, the crew had boated two gags and 13 red grouper that ran to 14 pounds. The gags ate live pin fish and the reds succumbed to cut bait.

After the limit of grouper Capt. Clarence made a move that resulted in encounters with goliath grouper and king mackerel that were caught and released.

Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Bill Jones, fishing out of Caxambas Pass, reports that the water is very dirty and "funky" looking, but that didn't hurt the redfish bite on Sunday.

He took out Jay Davis and friends for a half day in the Islands. Using "Gulp" shrimp under a popping cork, they landed 18 reds. Eight of them were shorts, but the rest of the fish were in the 22- to 25-inch range. They also boated a couple of flounder.

Sunday, Bill took out a group for a shark adventure, and they were kept busy with blacktips that ate cut bait fished on the bottom. The largest blacktip went about eight feet long, and a nice seven-foot bull shark was also brought to boat side before release.

Naples/Estero Bay: On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I had the "Georgia Boys" in town. Richard Butler, Rick Pollard, and Skip Pollard made thier annual trip south and were not disappointed.

Lots of snook, reds, and jacks were caught by the guys, but Saturday was the best day.

We started off with reds, and they were nice ones. At our first stop, they landed nine that ranged between six and eight pounds. Later in the day, they added two more hefty reds to bring the total to 11.

The snook bite was great, and we stopped counting after we passed 20. Most of the fish were in the 22- to 25-inch range, with a couple of 27s thrown in.

To end the day, we targeted baby tarpon, and much to Skip's dismay, he missed his chance (again!). Richard went two for three, and we got one more for a total of three tarpon landed. The largest was about 12 pounds, and they ate white baits.

By Saturday, the water conditions had deteriorated in Estero, and we fished Wiggins, where the bite was not nearly what we had the day before, but both reds and snook made it to the boat.

If you have a report to share, send it to

Fishing Report: Fall fishing means anything is possible

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted October 10, 2012

NAPLES — Tuesday at 11:30, I got a call from a friend fishing within 300 yards of the beach. He was not real calm on the phone because his boat was surrounded by rolling tarpon.

Now this is one of the reasons I just love fall fishing in Southwest Florida! At this time of the year, anything is possible, fish are on the prowl looking for something to eat, and if you are in the right place with something they want to consume, you are in for a treat.

Winds have been out of the east, and in spite of significant afternoon rains, the water quality ranges from good to very clear. We are due a "cold" front that should have passed by the time you read this, but temperatures won't be greatly impacted and winds will quickly return to an easterly bearing. One note about the winds, though. Don't completely rely on tide charts when estimating the water you will have during a period of low water. The lows have been running well below what the charts are indicating, due to the east wind.

In the back, the bait has been flooding in with the tide, and all of the normal suspects are enjoying the buffet. Snook and reds are getting the most attention, but trout, flounder and even mackerel are all available in the back bays. In Estero, I have been pleasantly surprised, that with all the fresh water pouring into the bay, live baits are not dying in the well. Water quality has been pretty good, and the water temperatures are now in the lower 80s.

For those anglers venturing offshore, the grouper still get the majority of the attention, but good catches of snapper and mackerel are being reported, too. Water conditions have been great, with calm seas and light current. Keeper grouper are being caught within six miles of the beach.

Naples/Estero Bay: Fishing has been strong all week long, according to Capt. Todd Geroy, who has been fishing out of Naples. Plenty of action all week on snook and reds using live pilchards.

On Friday, he had John Shoyer from Naples and his daughter, Susan, who was visiting from Charlotte.

Todd put them to work quickly as they got into some serious red fish, and they landed over two dozen in the 23- to 26-inch range, as well as snook , flounder and even a tarpon. But the highlight of the trip wasn't the tarpon. In just a couple of feet of water, John hooked up with a giant of a redfish. After quite a battle they landed a huge, 36-inch fish that tipped the scales at a whopping 24 pounds! This was all done on a 10-pound spinning outfit.

Estero Bay has been producing good numbers of snook and reds. We have been finding fish all over the bay on both incoming and outgoing tides. Bait has been all over the place and filling a live well in one throw of the net is how it should be all the time. Water quality is good, but as stated above watch the water level on the lower end of the tides. Small snapper, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, flounder, and trout are all being caught as well. For the trout and reds too try a popping cork over the grass flats where you have some water over the grass.

Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Rob Walczak has had good mixed bag action for his clients down in the Ten Thousand Islands. He has been using a combination of live bait and artificials with good results on both.

On Saturday, he took out Nick Carr and a couple of friends for a half-day trip, and they landed 10 reds in the 19- to 26-inch range, as well as a couple of snook, trout, snapper, mackerel, and flounder. Rob says that the water quality is pretty good between Goodland and Everglades City, but that the low tides have been really low.

Offshore: Charles Haskell reports that the near-shore action has been really good in the last couple of weeks. Just recently, he took out Chef Vincenzo Betulia of the new Tulia restaurant for his first ever Gulf fishing trip.

Charles went out six miles and anchored up. Vincenzo dropped a line, and bang, the fight was on. Moments later a nice, 26 1/2-inch gag was going home for dinner. His second fish was a 23 1/2-inch gag. The chef is now hooked. Welcome to the club! Other fish that Haskell has pulled in include a 12-pound snook and a 70-pound goliath grouper.

The "Cuda" went out for a half day on Monday, with Greg and his son, Nicholas. Capt. Mike Lucas went out to about 25 feet of water where the two guys got into a mess of mackerel. Most of the fish were in over two pounds, and were caught on light spinning gear and silver spoons.

Mike later moved the boat to a spot in 32 feet of water where they got a keeper red grouper, as well as a mixed bag of bottom fish using cut sardines for bait. Mike said that conditions were good, and the water was clear and 82 degrees.

Capt. Tom Robinson fished Sunday and Monday with Rick Green and party onboard the "Sea Legs."

Sunday, they headed out to about 60 feet of water, where they quickly got into the red grouper. The group ended up with 14 keepers to 28 inches, as well as a goliath and a nice, 24-pound king mackerel.

On Monday, the target was snapper, and Tom went out to a piece of ledge where they found some real nice mangrove and yellow tail snapper. The 20 mangs topped out at 25 inches, and the yellow tail "flags" were in over 20 inches. In addition to the nice snapper catch, they also landed three amberjacks to 25 pounds.

If you have a report to share, send it to

Fishing Report: Fall season means fish are ready to fatten up

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted October 3, 2012

NAPLES — We are definitely in the transition to fall fishing in Southwest Florida as water temperatures get a little cooler, and fish are moving around to look for something to eat. And eat they will!

In the fall, there is no drive to spawn, just a desire to fatten up and at times it seems as if the fish just can't get enough. Lots of bait schools are moving around the bays, passes and offshore, and you can often see the predators crashing the party.

This is the time of year when schools of mackerel will be just off the beaches, and some of the fish will be upwards of five pounds. Along with the macks, there will be lots of ladyfish and jacks.

If you are looking for pure action, just find a bait school and start fishing. For the mackerel, use something flashy that you can move through the water quickly. At this time of year, ladyfish will hit a plain jighead with nothing on it. Let it settle to the bottom, and work it up and down somewhat fast.

Should you be interested in something a little bigger, try throwing a chunk of cut bait around those schools. Don't be surprised if something large tries to tow your boat around.

Inshore, this is my favorite time to fish. Snook are starting to make the move to the back, and the redfish are schooling up nicely.

This past week the reds seem to be everywhere, and most of the fish are in the slot. Reports have them eating everything from Gulp shrimp on a jig, to cut pinfish, to live threads or shrimp. These guys move around with the tide, and I seem to do better on the last half of incoming. Some of the skinny water boats are literally chasing fish that have their backs out of the water.

Trout continue to show up in better numbers, especially down in the Ten Thousand Islands. Last week, Capt. Ryan Clase reported a jumbo 12-pounder taken in Estero Bay. Generally look for them in three to five feet of water around the grass. A popping cork with a shrimp/jig underneath works well.

The fall can also provide some end-of-the-season tarpon fishing. I have been targeting small fish in the 7- to 20-pound range, but there are plenty of larger ones to be had, too. Moving water in an area that isn't constantly being run over by boats and jet skis could prove productive. Look around the inlets just around dawn and dusk if the tide is moving well.

Offshore: Capt. Michael Avinon ran a couple of full-day trips this week, and he says the red grouper are still producing well. In fact, his guys were limiting out on the reds, and later were releasing legal gags.

Mike has been making the haul out to about 80 feet of water before dropping anchor. His anglers have been using pinfish and cut threadfin herring as bait.

On a recent trip, they were able to coax a bite out of a 50-pound cobia, too. Capt. Avinon has also been involved in a tagging project involving goliath grouper, and on the last go-around they caught, tagged, and released 11 of the monsters up to a huge 300 pounds. Sore arms all around!

Naples/Estero Bay: Down in the Naples area, veteran guide Todd Geroy has been putting his anglers on to lots of snook. He reports great action in the last two days, with catches of up to 30 snook per trip.

On Tuesday, he had Chuck Marton and Chris Conure out, and they wore the snook out, catching fish after fish using live pilchards. The two best fish were 11 and 14 pounds! Before the end of the trip, they also were able to get into some nice reds, and boated four to 26 inches. Todd has been fishing Johnson Bay and the waterway between Naples and Marco.

Recently, I had John Barless from the Islandwalk Fishing Club and son Matt on board for a half day. Matt had never done this type of fishing, and it took a bit for him to not yank the bait away from the hungry fish.

We had a load of bait, and chummed the fish up pretty much everywhere we stopped. They landed lots of snook and five reds up to 22 inches. Jacks, ladyfish, and mangrove snapper added to the action. The fish of the day was a 15-pound tarpon that John brought to the net. It too ate a pilchard that was free-lined.

Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Glen Puopolo, fishing out of Everglades City has been working over the trout and reds on trips this past week. The water has been reasonably good -- not muddy, but tannin stained -- and the fish have been eager to eat.

Glen has had his anglers using shrimp on a jig for the trout, which he is finding on the flats in three to five feet of water. Most of the fish have been in the 15- to 20-inch range. Reds have also been hitting the shrimp that are under a popping cork.

Capt. Puopolo has had anglers landing 20 to 30 reds per trip, and the fish have been running in the 18- to 27-inch range. Art Hicks from Fort Lauderdale pulled in about 25 nice reds on a trip this week. A few snook up to about 25 inches are also being caught.

If you have a report to share, send it to

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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