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Fishing Report: Better to get out early and then late

By LARRY REGIENCZUK Posted July 21, 2010 at 8:30 a.m.

NAPLES — Set your alarm for "zero dark 30" and get on the water early for the first half of the inshore fishing day. After you have caught some nice snook and a few slot-sized trout, go home and do some things on your "honey do" list, then eat lunch and take a nap, eat dinner and wait for dark, then the second half of your mid-summer fishing day will begin.

Once the sun is out strong, not many fish are willing to chase a bait.

Summertime snook fishing ranges from OK to great, with quite a few slot and larger fish being reported. Anglers are using everything from small pilchards to large threads to cut lady fish as bait, with good results. In fact, Peter "King of the Seawall" has been using artificial every night in Naples to consistently catch his two good-sized snook before going to bed. Stacy and Kyle Hartmann picked up on Peter's technique and landed snook up to 30 inches.

The snapper bite continues strong, with limits of good-sized fish up to 21 inches being reported. Another early morning target are trout. A number of anglers are pulling in fish up to 20 inches while drifting the passes. And around the near- shore rock piles, school-sized king mackerel and an occasional cobia are being caught.

Offshore and near shore, there are plenty of sharks of all kinds and sizes to bend your rod. They are eating baits as small as a threadfin, and as large a half of a jack crevelle. Gags and red grouper seem to be biting well, even in water as shallow as 30 feet. Farther offshore, there are a lot of king mackerel ranging from the 10- to 12-pound schoolies to the big "screamers" that do their best to spool your reel.

For the past few weeks, I have been traveling in the Northeast and Canada, and it is amazing the number of people I have ran into that think all of Florida's beaches are covered in oil. They watch the national news on TV and assume the worst. Southwest Florida is hundreds of miles from the oil spill, and after looking at the results of a year-long study on the "Gulf Loop Current," it looks like we are in a protected zone in even the worst scenario.

Tell your northern friends and relatives to "come on down."

Naples/Estero: Snook are the number one target for Capt. Tim Daugherty, fishing out of Naples. He is leaving the dock an hour or so before sunrise on his morning trips, and leaving the dock around sunset for evening trips.

Tim says he is consistently catching his biggest fish of the year, with most fish in the slot or just a couple of inches under. In the last few days, his anglers have been catching (and releasing) 20 to 30 snook per trip. His bait in the morning is a well full of small pilchards fished on a No. 1 hook and a light leader. Before his evening trips, Capt. Tim is able to get offshore and fill his well with large pilchards. The catch of the week was a 34-inch redfish caught by Randy Wayne.

From Ken at Master Bait and Tackle, we hear that snook are everywhere, with a few redfish mixed in. Bait has been threads or small summer shrimp. Since the snook season remains closed indefinitely, Ken wonders about the increased pressure on the redfish population. Recently while fishing the near shore reefs of Wiggins Pass and catching both gag and red grouper, Ken was repeatedly cut off by "zooming" king mackerel. Lots of those small summer shrimp are being gobbled up by the outstanding run of mangrove snapper.

Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Bill Jones was out fishing on Friday, and reports a catch of seven snook with the largest being a 44-inch monster caught by "Franky the Yankee."

After the snook, Bill went chasing a bunch of small tarpon that were rolling, but not eating. The water is off color, and water temperatures are running in the 85- to 87-degree range. Bill also reports seeing a couple of cobia being brought in by other boats. Bait is available offshore.

Farther south, fishing out of Everglades City, Capt. Glen Poupolo reports that on a recent trip, they caught several snook up to 27 inches using threads and cut ladyfish. A couple of reds in the 23- to 24-inch range were also boated. Early in the morning, Glen has been using root beer-colored "Rip Tide" plastic baits on trout in the 15- to 20-inch range. The water has a brown look to it from the rain, but isn't too bad.

Offshore: Capt. Rick Featherstone had planned to go well offshore on Monday"s trip, but a strong breeze and an angler's queasy stomach changed that plan.

Pulling out a Mann 25 plug and a feathered jig on his downrigger, his anglers put a limit of gags in the box. These fish ranged from 10 to 12 pounds, and were caught in 30 to 40 feet of water. Tuesday proved to be windy as well, and his anglers wanted to catch sharks. Using cut up jacks for bait, they caught eight to 10 sharks on the half-day trip, with the largest being a 10-foot bull shark caught in about 12 feet of water. Farther offshore, there are lots of kings and some cobia on the wrecks.

Sunday, the "Sea Hooker" took Joe Parise, Garrett Rick, Justine Laru, Ap Dougherty and Ross out for a trip. They caught lane snapper, two large nurse sharks and over 30 grouper, with one being an eight-pound keeper. Threds were used for bait. On Monday, Capt. Condon took Barry and his family out for a half day of catching sharks, Spanish mackerel, and grouper.

This past week, Capt. Michael Avinon, onboard "Capt. Marvel," two half-day trips produced plenty of keeper gag and red grouper while fishing inside 14 miles. Wednesday on a full-day trip, his anglers limited out on both red and gag grouper, yellowtail to 18 inches, and three amberjacks to 30 pounds. On Tuesday, they returned from a two-night trip offshore that produced 19 American red snapper to 14 pounds, and 24 keeper grouper to 27 pounds.

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