Naples Fishing Report October

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Fishing Report: Action as excellent as the weather


Posted October 20, 2010 at 9 a.m.

NAPLES — Heaven can't be much better than Southwest Florida has been this past week. Not only has the weather been Chamber of Commerce beautiful, the fishing has been excellent in most areas.

Inshore, catches of snook, reds, trout, jack crevelle and other species are wearing out the tackle and arms of fishermen. There are literally coves and bays full of bait and the predators are enjoying this feast.

Just off the beaches, some spectacular feeding frenzies are taking place. Spanish mackerel, some up to seven pounds, are churning up the water, while gorging on schools of bait that are so thick, they turn the water brown. More and more bonita are joining in the fray, and can be seen screaming through the bait balls. Large sharks and small sharks take their share of the feast, and can be targeted by anglers looking to do battle with one of the toothy monsters.

Offshore is more of the same, plus grouper. With mostly gentle east winds, the Gulf waters are clear, and full of things eating other things.

Cobia are cruising the near shore waters, and they usually aren't too fussy about what they eat. If you see one, throw something at it, and they will probably eat it. Then hang on! Cobia are well known for their strength, and they don't quit when you bring them into the boat, so be careful. With the water starting to cool, more of the gag grouper should start showing up closer to shore. One of the captains ran out to 100 feet of water, but found mostly smaller fish. Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Rob Walczak and buddy Capt. Steve Murray fished in and won first place in the Grand Championship Backwater Series this weekend.

Their two reds weighed in at 13.42 pounds to take the championship. Using mostly jigs, Rob and Steve fished Friday and Saturday south of Goodland in search of the winning fish. On Friday, they landed about 20 reds, with most of them being in the 16- to 17-inch range, as well as a bunch of trout in the 15- to 19-inch range. Saturday resulted in about 25 reds, with four being in the slot. Several snook and some trout also fell to the jigs thrown by Capt. Rob and Capt. Steve. Rob stated that the water was dirtier than he expected.

Less than one pound separated Capt. Andy Warner's team from first place, but instead resulted in fourth place in the same tournament.

Andy and buddy John Harris caught 30 reds in the tournament, with eight being in the slot or larger. They used a combination of live bait and cut ladyfish to catch those reds, and about a half dozen snook up to 25 inches. On a different note, Capt. Andy reports that flounder seem to be around in greater numbers this year. He is finding fish laying on sandy bottoms with current, and the fish are ranging from 14 to 18 inches. Good eating, too.

Naples/Estero Bay: Capt. Seth Hayes fished several days recently in the Estero Bay area. The first trip was with Joe Van Hoser from Seattle who pulled in three reds up to 34 inches, as well as nine snook to 29 inches, and trout up to 22 inches.

His next two days were with Louie Zettler of Naples, and on their first outing they started of catching a few snapper and snook, but finished with a flourish. Louie was worn out, but had a smile on his face after his successful battle with a 110- pound tarpon. Not to be outdone, Hayes' next outing had Lonnie Naynila reeling in 10 snook to 27 inches, but the real fish of the day was a 27-pound cobia caught inside Big Carlo Pass.

Fishing out of Naples, Capt. Tom Shadley had a trip under the lights. Using flies, angler Blair Meisner from Canada landed snook up to 29 inches, as well as some monster, 8- to 10-pound jack crevelle. A baby tarpon on fly was the highlight of the trip.

On a recent day trip with Marshall (from the store Mangrove Outfitters), they caught reds and also had a 34-inch snook to the boat when the leader finally gave out. Tom has been using mostly his "Light Bulb" fly and the "DT" fly to coax fish into eating.

On Monday, I fished in the morning with John Preeg, and we had a great time both inside and just off the beach.

First we went snooking, and found 20 of the critters willing to come to the boat. Mixed in were some really aggressive jacks up to 10 pounds.

Then we went just outside of New Pass, and found the water boiling with mackerel, bonita, and sharks feasting on the large schools of bait out there. We landed four of the bonita and lost an equal number. After that, we were due a break, so we went looking for some small tarpon. Seek and ye shall find, and we did. They were rolling nicely, but refused our offerings completely.

In the evening, I had Mike Hicks and buddy Aron out for some fishing. Under the lights, we caught 30 snook, two trout, one snapper, and one ladyfish. We all almost jumped off the boat at one point, as the water all around us exploded as about a 100 or so small rays were chased by something really big. DO NOT FALL OFF THE BOAT IN THE DARK!

Offshore: On board "Sea Legs," Capt. Tommy Robinson took a group out Friday for a half-day of fishing.

The group enjoyed a lot of action, with Spanish mackerel and small kings (five to seven pounds), and then landed a 35-inch barracuda. The catch of the day was a pair of 36-inch cobia that wore out a couple of the anglers before being invited onboard for dinner. Capt. Tom reports that the water is beautiful.

Fishing out of New Pass, Bill Hickman went out about 20 miles on Tuesday, looking for some keeper grouper. With Bill was Jack Spitler, and the grouper hunt was fruitless, but the bonita were all over the place. Pitching live baits into the feeding fish, and then hang on, was how Bill described the action. Earlier in the week, Bill was in 30 feet of water, where he caught a 25-pound goliath grouper and a five-foot lemon shark. Conditions were perfect.

Note that the closed season for trout begins on Monday, Nov. 1.

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Fishing report: It's primetime out on the water

Posted October 13, 2010 at 6:10 p.m.

NAPLES — It doesn’t get much better that this.

When you set out first thing in the morning you might need a light jacket or sweatshirt, but when the sun comes up it has been absolutely beautiful. Lower humidity and an easing of the wind has made for a pretty good week of fishing.

Offshore there are schools of threads that are being pounded by all sorts of predators, everything from Spanish mackerel to some good sized sharks. King mackerel are being caught within a half-mile of the sand, and with the cooling of the water we should start seeing tripletail showing up.

Along most of the beaches in the Marco to Estero range the bait is thick and nice sized. At times you can find whole schools of snook or reds enjoying this feast. Water quality ranges from fairly clear in the Naples and Estero area to somewhat off-color in the Ten Thousand Islands. We have escaped any of those big windy things with names this year, and the fall fishery looks to only get better as long as temperate weather persists. Let’s hope that fall lasts until at least January.

Though it has been some time since we have had a freshwater report, I am happy to report that one has been submitted for this week and it is a good one.

Freshwater: Jess Edwards of Golden Gate Tackle Box reports that fishing in the Golden Gate canal system has been pretty good lately. With the water levels stabilizing and the temperature of the water cooling off, the bite has been active.

Early and late, both largemouth and snook have been busting top water baits and live shiners. During the middle of the day, slow worked worms seem to be most productive. Peacock bass and small tarpon are also joining in the action and are feeding on shallow floated shiners.

On a recent three-hour outing, Tom and Eileen Mortin caught a Golden Gate Slam, collecting largemouth, peacock, snook and tarpon.

Ten Thousand Islands: Running out of Goodland, Capt. Jack Thompson fished Saturday with Mike Gernhardt the astronaut. Jack has known Mike since he was a youngster and they both enjoy a good fishing trip.

They landed quite a few fish, including two pompano, mackerel up to six pounds, some small reds, a three-pound flounder and a few trout in the 18- to 20-inch range. Thompson reports that the water is cleaning up nicely since the wind changed back to the east.

Capt. Bill Jones fished out of Caxambas Pass on Tuesday and had a good day, which included a battle with a tarpon in the 150-pound range. The tarpon ate a live mullet as they often do this time of year. His angler also landed eight snook in the 16- to 24-inch range using small finger mullet and beach baits. A few reds that were either small or oversized are around and they are hitting jigs and live baits. Trout are around, but Bill hasn’t been targeting them. Remember the season closes Nov. 1.

Down further in the Islands, Capt. Glen Poupolo fished today with Ken Morgan. Leaving from Everglades City they netted finger mullet for bait and then put them to work. Six red in the 18 to 27 inch range were landed as well as a couple of 26 inch snook. The trout were the star of the show today and Ken landed a dozen in the 18+ inch range. Water quality is getting better.

Offshore: Capt. Bob Fisher onboard the “Sea Spirit” went out Saturday with Jack Mangles and family. After catching some pinfish for bait they went out to about 50 feet of water where they landed numerous grouper, both red and gags. Three of them made the icebox.

Lots of good sized Spanish mackerel are all over the bait pods, and Capt. Bob’s anglers were kept busy with the three-pounders. Along with the Spanish, the occasional Bonita was hooked giving the anglers a good workout. Catch of the day goes to Jack Jr. with a 39-inch cobia to his credit. The cobia ate a cut sardine. The water is very clear with lots of bait around.

Friday saw Capt. Mike Lucas of the “Barracuda” taking Bill Lewis and friend out for a day on the gulf. Lots of three-pound Spanish made for good action, while a keeper red grouper was invited for diner. The real workout for Bill and his friend however were the sharks they encountered. Atlantic sharpnose were numerous, and a five-foot lemon shark plus an eight-foot tiger shark really wore them out.

Naples to Estero Bay: Capt. Seth Hayes states that “it was a good week in all” out on Estero Bay. One day he fished with Jessie Griffiths from St. Louis and they landed seven snook to 36 inches and went 1-for-3 on tarpon in the 70-pound range. Later in the week Seth saw lots of smaller snook and a few oversized red willing to eat the nice whitebait that is available on the beach.

On Sunday, Capt. Seth and his angler, Bill Elet from Naples, put 17 snook on the hook. They ranged up to 28 inches and the catch also included two nice trout and one slot red. Big jack crevelle are ranging from the beaches to the back country and can cause your reels’ drag to smoke.

Snook in the 20 to 38 inch range have been falling to live pilchards and twitch baits by MirrOLure for Capt. Steve Nagy. With the morning low tides Steve has been finding redfish in the grass using gold spoons or jigs with a Hybrid Flurry on them. Later as the tide comes in the reds are moving to the bushes and docks where he has been using live shrimp with a split shot to coax them into eating.

On a recent trip Larry and Deanna Hines had back to back Inshore Slams, catching a red, snook, trout, and tarpon each day. Congratulations!

I fished Thursday, Friday, and Saturday with Richard Butler, Skip Pollard and Rick Pollard. These guys are from the Atlanta area and come down once a year, but this year they didn’t need retraining. In the three days we landed over 100 fish, including 77 snook up to 27 inches, six reds to six pounds, jacks up to 10 pounds, and four flounder.

Skip jumped two tarpon, but insisted that it wasn’t his fault that they got off. He made up for those lost fish however by landing a 39-inch king mackerel on 12-pound mono with a 30-pound leader. We caught fish from Wiggins Pass to Estero and from the beach to the bars in the back. Bait was all over the beach and in a couple of throws of the net we had plenty. Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Stacy Mullendore fished out of Goodland on Tuesday with good results on redfish. His anglers landed about 15 of the smaller 15-, 16-inch fish. Not keepers, but fun to catch and release. A couple of snook in the 20- to 22-inch range rounded out the day's catch. On better days, Stacy reports catches of 10 to 12 snook in that same size range. He has been using a combination of live bait and Gulp shrimp on a jig.

Tough! That is how Capt. Aron Blaisdale sums up recent fishing out of Goodland. Again short reds up to 17 inches have been hitting jigs and the occasional snook eating a live bait have been the norm. A better report was a recent trip with Andy Smith, who wanted to catch sharks, and Aron wore him out with repetitive bites from the toothy guys. His best was a seven-foot lemon shark brought to the boat and released, one of three big sharks landed. In one hour, they had hooked five.

Farther down south, Capt. Herb Kehoe and his crew won the Anglers Cup Snook Challenge for the second year in a row. Using finger mullet as the preferred bait, they landed a number of oversized redfish and snook up to 34 inches. Most of the fish were on the beaches and around the river mouths well south of Everglades City. Herb and his crew put Fusion Charters on the fish, and in the win column again.

Offshore: Many of the offshore charter fleet is still working on their boats, getting ready for season to start. The strong easterly winds made for some bumpy rides for those boats that did go out.

Capt. Tom Robinson reports that on a recent half-day trip just six miles off the beach, his charter was able to fill the day with nice mangrove snappers and some small gags. A three-quarter day put Capt. Tom about 18 miles offshore on some nice red grouper, and the three anglers limited out quickly, then went looking for snapper.

Mangroves up to 16 inches, and several keeper yellowtail snapper were added to the fish box. Goliaths in the 30- to 40-pound range put in their appearance, stealing several fish before a couple of the aggressive fish were landed and released.

Alex Owens was fishing with friend Joe Epifaneo and his cousin Mike recently. Only about a half-mile offshore, they saw a large pod of bait with large fish rolling. Quickly, Alex put a pinfish on a line and tossed it into the bait ball, where it was just as quickly eaten by a tarpon estimated at 70 pounds.

After entertaining the anglers for a while with outstanding jumps and head shaking, the fish practiced a "hands off" release. A second 70-pounder repeated the act soon after, and the final contestant was a big 150-pound fish that stayed on the hook a little longer, and was gracious enough to come alongside the boat before leaving the party.

Naples/Estero Bay: Snook in the Estero Bay area have been relatively plentiful, but somewhat on the small size, according to Capt. Seth Hayes. He is finding fish, both reds and snook, well away from the passes recently. On a recent trip with Kevin Leahy, they boated several oversized reds and a very nice 34-inch snook using live bait.

Down Naples way, Capt. Pat Gould fished out of Gordon's Pass, and found getting bait easy and interesting. While he was netting his bait, he watched two tarpon being fought by anglers just off the beach. The one he saw brought to the boat was measured out, and estimated at 170 pounds.

No tarpon for Pat that day, but his crew caught numerous snook in the 15- to 24-inch range, using pilchards. Two undersized reds, several big jacks, some Spanish mackerel and even a few small gag grouper rounded out a very active day for Capt. Pat.

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UPDATE: Snook fishing closed until next September in Southwest Fla.By ERIC STAATS

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