One of my favorite months to fish along with November. The action has heated up even though we have not seen the break yet in temperature. Snook fishing has never been better, fish counts in the 20 to 30’s on half day trips. The fall species have been very active as well, they continue their migrations south. Bonita, the extremely hard fighting member of the tuna family, have been a pleasant change just off the coast. Although the majority of the triple have been just shy of keeper length, they are still a ton of fun to fish for as the peck away at the invertebrates and small bait fish around the stone crab traps. The tarpon have finally showed up as the silver mullet have begun to run. I’ve been spending 2 hours on those three off shore species then moving in to the backwaters to target the snook . While in the back jacks, snapper sea trout and red fish have all been very active fattening up for winter. This great action will continue through Nov, let’s go fishing!
Sept. starts the transition period into fall, my favorite time of year to be guiding! As the days grow shorter the water temps start to cool, the changing conditions warn our targeted species that it time to start fattening up for the winter. Snook and Redfish will continue to gorge on the plentiful herring bait pods that have been just off the beaches all summer. Tarpon have been starting to show in the passes, feeding on huge schools of glass minnows right at day break. With the prevailing wind still out of the east, which makes the gulf waters flat as a lake, I’ve been able to venture out just off shore targeting maceral and the occasional early school of bonita. At the end of the month, I have the honor and privilege once again to guide two of our country’s veterans in the wounded warrior projects, “ take a soldier fishing tournament “ I’ll be sure to report on the event next month. I’m lLooking forward to a very exciting October on the water, as its historically one of the best months to fish! So let’s go!!
There is a group of wading birds that hang around the marina I leave out of, which have become all to custom to my live-well and help themselves to a post-charter snack. Reddish Egret, Snowy Egret, White heron and a tri colored heron are the main thieves. When they see the boat approaching they immediately soar over for a hand-out, giving the guest in the front a up close viewing. While fishing the beaches we’ve sighted deer, raccoon, and coyote feeding on a unidentifiable carcass and 3 loggerhead turtles.
In a stand of dead trees lives a flock of monk parakeets, on one of these dead trees is a favorite perch for one of the resident bald eagles. While drifting by last week the eagle most have ruffled the usually calm parakeets feathers. They were dive bombing and screaming at that eagle to the high havens! Talk about David versus goliath.
The Snapper palooza continues, with bait growing up in size, so have the Mangrove snapper! Ranging in size from 2 to 3 pounds with an occasional 4 pounder, they are schooled on just about every point that has moving water. The past week has had rather large tide. During the morning lows, I’ve been cruising the Port Royal canals, while looking under the exotic hard wood boat docks for Snook. They shelter from the sun, in a degree or two cooler water. As an added bonus, I’ve been hooking a few nice Redfish under the same docks. Baby Tarpon and really big Jack Carvel have been tearing up the inner coastal on a daily bases!
Manatees continue to glide on by with the tide a few times a week. Water is super clear right now which makes viewing them really exciting. Dolphins are still everywhere we go looking for a free meal. A dolphin feeding can be fun for the first- time angler, however their insatiable eating of every hooked snook when present can’t be good for the snook population. Seen a few turtles along the beach of all sizes.
I had a pair of King Fishers following me this morning for a while, just checking up on me.
That’s it for now.
I’ll continue to run my 50 off half day summertime trips. As well in an effort to beat the heat, I’ve been starting at 7.
The Captain has returned along with an abundance of fish.
I had a fantastic season of fishing with long time anglers, friends and new clients but my hands certainly welcomed a break from the razor sharp snook gills. I took my family to Asheville N.C for a week to explore the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. We managed to catch a couple wild mountain brook trout, as well as some small bass out of the French Broad River, the third oldest river in the world! On the drive back we made a pit stop (literally he has a BBQ pit and best hog in the state) at my brother Pats and of course did some fishing in his beaver pond. I was home long enough to repack and hit the road to Chicago to see my favorite band one last time before they unplugged for good. Yes, I had my travel rod in hand to do a little fishing in Lake Michigan between shows!
I was welcomed back to Naples with massive schools of typical micro sized summer bait fish up and down the coast. These miniature herring don’t stand a chance with the seemingly endless supply of delicious mangrove snapper! Dozens can be caught on a half day trip. If some how they get by the snapper, then the snook are more than happy to engulf them! The snook seem to be on every point and dock that has moving water going by. With the sheer quantity of bait at hand, it’s super easy to chum up a jack attack on most shore lines. Great nonstop action has the fish counts on a 4 hour half day averaging in the mid 40’s!! The abundance should continue right through September. So if you stand the heat, you’ll sweat reeling in the fish and cooking the mangrove in the kitchen!
My travel wild life report was much different than the local scene. We saw coyotes, deer, chipmunk’s, owls, hummingbirds and robins in Asheville. Hummingbirds, deer and beavers in VA.In Naples, seeing Manatees ( just about every day ) dolphins and ospreys along with the usual wading birds while on the water. Was fascinated by the hummingbirds! I now have two feeders in the garden, patiently awaiting my first sighting.
Have a Great rest of your summer!!
Schools out for summer and the schooling snook are out to play.
Schools of snook can be targeted from the beach in just a few feet of water. I've been having great success using 3 inch soft plastics for them while walking the barrier islands. Summer also brings a great bite for mangrove snapper. Using the smaller pilchards works best while fishing the docks and mangroves close to Naples.
For the more adventurous anglers I've been targeting the local SHARK population. With big bull, lemon, gray reef and spinner sharks brought boat side on just about every outing.
Manatees, dolphins and large spotted eagle rays are been observed on a regular basis. One of my favorite summer birds are the Black Skimmers! So much fun to watch especially early morning when there’s no wind and slick calm condition. Their technique of dropping their lower jaw just under the water line in full flight while hoping to snatch a minnow from the water leaving a traced line in the water is always a treat to see.
May has me going back to the early 80s when John Mellencamp’s song “Hurts so Good” spent 16 weeks in the top 10. While I don’t typically enjoy pain, there is something gratifying about a successful snook season which brings along some wear and tear on the captain’s hands. Snook have three razor-sharp plates by their gills, five ridged thorn-like spikes at the base of each fin; and 80 grit sandpaper-like teeth – talk about evolution to escape the angler! My hands are well on their way to becoming what is called lobster clawed.
There you have it, it’s snook, snook and more snook! The bite has been plentiful: in the passes, in the bushes, under the docks, and my personal favorite running the beach. Beyond the prevalent snook, the occasional red is a pleasant bonus. Tarpon have been a tough bite but should improve as May progresses.
The non-fish nautical life has been plentiful with lots of manatees and dolphins. The dolphins at first are typically a fascinating site for my anglers however often lose their appeal. They will follow me from one hot spot to the next, wait just feet from the boat for a fish to be hooked and then launch at them like a torpedo to grab the hooked fish. For those fish that avoid the preliminary strike, I must try to evade the dolphin again upon release. It is incredible to witness the dolphins sheer power but annoying at the same time! The real snow birds eagles, ospreys and pelicans have started their summer migration as well.
Spring into action – the tarpon have arrived! It may feel like summer with temperatures in the mid-80s but warmer temps mean warmer water = more bait and more action. The first couple weeks of April, we rarely caught fish under the 28 inch slot mark. Enjoy a couple of pictures I’ve included to show just how close the snook are to the rocks. But back to the tarpon. Tarpon are finally starting to show off the beaches and promise heart pounding battles. I've been concentrating fishing for arpon in the back bays until the numbers on the beach improve. The fun part about sitting and waiting in the back is that the sharks are just as ready to eat a tarpon bait as well.
Beyond the fishing, the waters still offer great sight-seeing, or in my case, star interaction. I fished with an all-time favorite sports star, Mike Gartner from the New York Rangers. Not only a hall of famer but a hall of angler and true gentleman. I also got to see my first water spout. This spout was not a monster in the gulf but instead a little spout on the back bay but a cool nature experience none-the-less. The manatee are also out and about and like the dolphin, they are always a treat to see.
I love my job!
" In like a lion out like a lamb "
When you live, work and play in this subtropical paradise, your pace acclimates to a slower way of living. Whether I’m waiting out a summer afternoon deluge or backed up in “season” traffic, patience always pays off. What doesn't seem to progress slowly is the changing of the seasons, and yes we have seasons in FL! The lamb has sprung in the backwaters of Naples a month earlier then the lion anticipated! The coldest days of the winter two weeks ago have giving way to warm sunny days! Just like that, the shrimp tipped jigs have giving way to live wells full of frisky pilchards. So long Mr. Sheepshead and pompano, hello Redfish, Snook and Tarpon!
As an extra bonus, the late season speckled trout eagerly devour a free lined pilchard when sought after. Hard fighting Jack Cravels continue to prowl every foot of the backwaters rounding out double digit half day trips.
Early spring always points my spiritual wellness looking forward and more often than not, up. I pass by a couple dozen Ospreys nest that have 2 or 3 babies in each. Amazing just how fast a tiny baby chick grows to a full sized fish eating machine in just 40 to 60 days.
I find another treat in an ancient Banyan tree at the park where I launch the boat – a new tenant!. A few years back, a pileated woodpecker raised a few different brood of chicks, until a colony of honey bees took over the cavity for a couple more years. Now it's a yellow bellied sapsucker calling it home. Just one branch over is a American flicker family as a permanent tenant.
Let's go fish and enjoy the splendor of spring!
Steady as she goes, it’s all about perseverance when the temperature drops, there is still plenty of opportunity for the patient angler. Slowly working ¼ and 1/8 ounce jigs tipped with either a whole or just a piece of fresh shrimp has proven positive in attracting Sea Trout, Sheepshead and Pompano. The trout fishing has been spotty, no pun intended and schooling in the typical hot spots has cooled off as much as the water temperatures. The sheeps-head and snapper schools have been plentiful for this time of season. Although both fish are very boney and a pain to clean, the meat is sweet and worth the effort. Using just a piece of shrimp around any sort of structure the sheep's have been eager to please!
Beyond fishing, the wildlife has been impressive. The wading birds, like the American Oystercatcher, relish the low tides. . When the low tides expose the countless oyster bars in Naples it's fascinating to watch these shore birds poke and pry until they reach there yummy meal. Wonder if they've ever digested and pearls? The many species of mammals also enjoy the exposed banks foraging for crabs and clams. On recent trips we have had the opportunity to view coyote, deer, wild boars, raccoons and one bob cat.
Stay warm and hope to see you soon
Happy New Year!!
Well the end to 2014 saw just perfect fishing conditions! Only 1 very weak cold front passed through causing little to no impact. Water was in the middle 70's producing plenty of pilchards to feed to the normally lethargic snook. Sea Trout and Pompano which are typically the main winter time targets have not disappointed! However the crowd favorite lately seems to be Jack Cravels which are extremely hard fighting fish with little food value, unless you're really really hungry, haha. The seemingly over abundance of them make it hard to get away from them!
I wish one and all a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year!!
It did not take long at all for the winter time species to start foraging on a well-placed shrimp. Mangrove Snapper (also known as ceviche on this captains boat ) Sheep head, Black Drum, Sea Trout, Red Fish, and Pompano are all being caught in good numbers! Although some of these species can be on the smaller side they still fight hard, as well as provide constant action! Two other species that are targeted on the outside in the Gulf are the delicious Triple Tail and the extremely powerful Bonita also known as Albacore. My calendar is booking up quickly as the snow continues to fall up north, So if you are considering a trip I would not wait too long to give me a call!
Wishing everyone a Happy and Safe Holiday season as well as a happy New Year!!
Saturday Nov. 8 2014
The first cold front of the season came through Naples last weekend putting the fish on the move! Although we get to enjoy mild days and cool nights( AC off and doors and windows open! ) the Snook have different opinions! The snook seem to be wasting no time moving away from the beachs to their winter haunts in the back country. So its time to move onto the cooler months species
Saturday Oct. 1
Fishing is RED HOT right now! I was fishing with Ellen and her husband Ron from LI. we felt like we were in the middle of a fall Striper/bluefish blitz!! the water was just boiling! Jacks and Snook thrashing through huge balls of bait fish, very exciting!! The picture is of Ellen with her two slot Redfish that went home for dinner with her kids and in-laws.