Southwest Florida Fishing Report: Inshore Bite Heavy During Both Tides

Pushing offshore, red grouper have begun to move into deeper waters, therefore requiring longer runs for a fresh grouper dinner. The magic depth continues to hold fast in the 55- to 65-foot range. Mixed in with the grouper have been respectable catches of lane, mangrove and yellowtail snapper.

This week’s highlight offshore bite is a toss-up between Spanish mackerel over the nearshore wrecks and feisty barracuda around the periphery of the fish havens in the 38- to 48-foot range.

Expect the offshore action to heat up when the Gulf waters cool down. It will not be long before several exciting fall migratory fish enter the arena and spice up our catches.

Offshore: Aboard the Port of Naples Marina-based Ms. B. Haven II, Capt. Stephen Iannotta has enjoyed several action-packed nearshore half-day excursions.

Early departures and showing up on the scene with his live well full of sardines and shrimp, Iannotta has had no problem keeping his clientele hooked up and happy.

Anchoring up-current of several select artificial reefs, Iannotta and crew have kept tight to Spanish mackerel, a scattering of bluefish, and blacktip sharks. Iannotta’s method of heavy chumming with frozen block and live sardines scattered to the aft has been effective.

As an added bonus, giant Goliath grouper have been hooked aboard the Ms, B. Haven II. While not every hooked Goliath grouper was landed, several in the 200-pound class were brought boatside for a quick photo release.

Naples/Estero Bay: “Fishing is heating up as the weather is cooling down”, said Capt. Steve Nagy of Bonita Springs Fish and Guide Service. “The redfish bite is good in Estero Bay and snook are open for business.”

Nagy has been prospecting for redfish over the grass flats. Casting in front of moving schools has allowed for plenty of hook-ups. Nagy’s top artificial redfish bait over the flats is a Savage Gear medium-sized TPE Shrimp, brown in color. A live pinfish or shrimp presented under a popping cork has been effective as well for Nagy.

Nagy and crew have been working the outside islands and passes from Estero Bay northward to Sanibel Island very early in the fishing day. The outgoing tide is producing excellent snook catches for Nagy’s anglers casting live pilchards on a 2/0 Mustad circle hook. During low light conditions, a bone-colored Savage Gear Mud Minnow has been equally effective as a live bait presentation.

Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Wright Taylor has been busy working the middle bays, bights and passes from Goodland south to Chokoloskee. Redfish, snook and tarpon have been on Taylor’s guiding radar.

The first few hours of daylight have afforded Taylor’s clientele solid shots at meandering tarpon of all sizes. Top-water lures, soft plastic jerkbaits and large baitfish imitation flies have all fooled the silver king for Taylor.

As the morning progresses and low light conditions diminish, Taylor has been switching over to soft plastic jigs and shallow-running artificial lures to target snook and redfish.

Snook have been the dominant catch in the passes, around points and near creek mouths while redfish have been schooled up around oyster bar areas and deeper hard-bottom shorelines.

Taylor expects the active snook/redfish action to continue and the tarpon fishing to only improve throughout the month of October.


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