Naples Backwater Fishing Charters with Capt. Ben Geroy
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January 26, 2022
It's been quite a busy holiday season and first month of the New Year! While the weather and temperatures have been on a bit of a roller coaster ride, we're still managing to stay on the fish pretty well. The last month of so has produced some of the best sea trout fishing I've seen in the area in years, a great thing to see! We're also seeing a wide variety of species coming to the boat, as we typically do in the winter. Sometimes we will catch as many as 12+ species in a half day trip. Cheers to another fishy year, here's a few good ones from the last month:
November 9, 2021
Whenever people ask when the best fishing is in Naples, usually September and October are in the conversation. Late summer, and through the fall, sometimes all the way through the new year if it stays warm, can be the best fishing you can get in Southwest Florida. It seems that everything is happening in these last couple months before the cold fronts start coming.
This year has been no exception, redfish, snook, jacks, and sharks have all been punishing baits in the backwaters the last month or so! Another great part about the fall is there's usually no shortage of baitfish around, making the morning bait run quick and easy, more time for fishing!
Here are some shots of these hard fighting Fall fish:
August 8, 2021
We've had a quite a busy season this year, a welcomed bounce back from the shutdowns that caused us to fish quite a bit less last spring and summer. I can't remember a year I've been so busy through July!
Generally, mid summer is our slowest time of year, air and waters reach their warmest temps, and fishing action is best near dawn and dusk. We are doing almost exclusively 4 or 6 hour morning trips right now to stay in the action, avoid the heat, and potentially dangerous afternoon thunderstorms. Baitfish can be found all over the inlets and beaches right now, making bait catching a breeze, and allowing us to get fishing by 7-7:30am.
Snook fishing has been an absolute blast this summer, with tons of action on the "cookie cutter" 18-20 inch fish, and a few big ones in the mix. Aside from the snook, mangrove snapper have been quite aggressive as well. While they are smaller fish, snappers are one of the few inshore species we are able to keep at the moment, so they're great to see! Redfish have been making appearances more and more also, and the average size is getting close to 25 inches or more, which is close to what it was before the big red tide event a few years ago. Other recent catches include goliath grouper, barracudas, tarpon, sharks, and jack crevalle.
Here's a few good ones from recent outings:
March 6, 2021
It's been a busy start to the season this year, and anglers have been catching a wide variety of fish! For the last three weeks or so, the weather has been warm, allowing the water to warm up to spring like tempuratures. With that warm water we have been fishing with live bait fish. On the days with better tides, fish are chomping up the baits happily! Common catches recently have been snook, jack crevalle, and mangrove snappers, but we are catching some seatrout, redfish, small tarpon, and others in the mix as well! Here are some recent catches:
April 15, 2020
As we approach arguably the best time of year to be out fishing in SW Florida, the Coronavirus has stopped business dead in its tracks. First, let me say that I am still open for business, the fishing has been great, and I am taking every precaution to keep myself and my clients healthy and safe. The open waterways and fresh air you experience while out fishing might just be one of the best and safest places to be during this pandemic!
With all that said, the few trips I have been fortunate enough to keep on the schedule have been nothing short of spectacular! Snook, redfish, tarpon, sharks, big crevalle, goliath grouper, and mangrove snapper have all been biting very well, especially on days when the tides are strongest. Here's a small sample of some of the great fish clients have been catching:
January 23, 2020
We've finally gotten a touch of winter weather over the last couple months here in Naples, with a handful of cold fronts coming through, and ever changing wind patterns. The cooler water has pushed many fish deeper into the backwaters. On days when the water is colder, fishing shrimp close to the bottom in deeper creeks and channel edges has produced black drum, snapper, redfish, and sheepshead. In between the fronts, the water gets a chance to warm back up and we will fish with live baitfish. Focusing on the mouths of the creeks, and shallower shorelines has produced snook, jacks, redfish, and snappers as well.
Here are some recent catches:
August 13, 2019
Summer fishing has been just as hot as the weather! Business has been much better this summer, with no red tide or hurricanes so far this year, clients are enjoying some great fishing action! With the heat index getting well over 100 degrees most days, it's crucial to get out as early as possible before the water heats up. The first few hours of daylight have provided the best fishing action southwest Florida can offer! Recent morning trips have produced 40-50 snook, 5-10 redfish, along with snapper and jacks mixed in!
June 9, 2019
Fishing action has been steady throughout the "spring" season. Quality fish are being caught all over the backwaters from the passes all the way into the smaller back bays. Snook and jacks are taking most of the live sardines, while we are getting mangrove snapper, redfish, goliath grouper, small tarpon, and sharks of all sizes as well! Here are a few good ones from the last few weeks:
March 24, 2019
After a solid few weeks of "winter", things started to warm up in the month of March. Except for a few late season cold fronts, the water temps have stayed above 70 degrees, and we've been fishing with live sardines. Snook, jack crevalle, and mangrove snappers are the most common catches at the moment, and redfish, seatrout, goliath grouper, and small tarpon are getting in the mix well. The great thing about fishing this time of year is that the bite can be just as good at any time of day, as long as the tide is moving! Here are some of the nice catches from the last couple weeks:
January 7, 2019
For the last month or so, we've been into our "winter" pattern of fishing. The water temperatures have been hovering between the mid 60s and 70s, as cold fronts move in and out of the region. We are primarily using shrimp for bait right now, and rigging half a shrimp on a jighead will catch just about everything that swims in the backwaters. In colder days I've been concentrating on fishing deeper water, little holes and channel edges with plenty of moving water. Using just enough weight to get the bait to the bottom is key is these areas. On warmer days, we will fish shallower, focusing on getting the baits close to the mangrove shorelines.
We have been getting around ten or more different species of fish on every trip the last few weeks using these tactics, the most common catches being mangrove snapper, sheepshead, redfish, black drum, and jack crevalle. The new year is off to a great start and I'm excited for another year of catching!
October 1, 2018
Since the red tide has been floating in and out of our area, bait has been the hardest thing to catch. But if you can keep the bait alive, there's plenty of clean water and fish in the backwaters to keep us busy! The media has really made a bad representation of the red tide and it's affected area. In the past couple months, there has never been a time when I was unable to catch fish. In fact the past few weeks has produced some of the best fishing trips I've had all year (see the photos)! If you are ever unsure of the fishing conditions prior to bookin a trip, please CALL ME! Do not rely on the media to give you an accurate fishing report! I've lost a lot of business this summer due to poor news reporting.
July 6, 2018
As we are in the full power of the summer heat, the early morning and late evening bites are definitely the strongest! Especially on the stronger moon phases! Live sardines as well as various top water lures are getting eaten regularly! Evenings are also a good time to catch big backwater sharks, and sometimes other monsters pick up a shark bait, like the giant goliath grouper pictures below!
June 17, 2018
June is always one of my favorite months to fish in Naples! Big tides near the new and full moons can provide some of the best fishing action you can get with all the major game fish coming into play, snook, redfish, and tarpon! live sardines and top water lures have been the baits of choice.
May 10, 2018
What a wild spring it's been here in Southwest Florida! The past couple months have had the most unpredictable weather in years. While it has been very dry, numerous frontal systems continued to pass over, keeping the winds and seas in an ever changing state. Along with the crazy weather, we've been battling some red tide, which can render some waters unfishable if the algae is dense enough. Luckily the red tide only came into the backwaters between Naples and Marco (the area we fish most often) for a few days, and has since moved to the north.
Even with the adverse conditions, we were still able to get out and fish almost every day! Loading the livewell each morning with live sardines is the key to having good fishing action this time of year. Very few of our game fish will pass up a well presented live sardine. Snook and jacks continue to be the hungriest fish around, but there are plenty of other species being caught as well. Redfish are starting to show up more and more, we've caught one or two almost every trip in the last few weeks! Seatrout, bluefish, mangrove snapper, and small goliath groupers are taking baits also.
March 6, 2018
The waters have warmed up quite a bit since my last report, and some bigger and more aggressive fish have started to bite! The water temps in the gulf have been in the low to mid 70s for a couple weeks now, and the back bays are a little warmer still. We have transitioned back to fishing with live bait fish and are getting steady action on most days. The primary catches have been snook and jack crevalle of all sizes, but a few other species are finding the baits as well, such as tarpon, redfish, mangrove snapper, and a couple small goliath grouper. Below are some nice recent catches:
February 9, 2018
Winter fishing has been better than the last couple years by a long shot! With multiple strong cold fronts coming our way over the last month or so, water temperatures have gotten cooler than they have in a long time, and the winter fish are loving it! Along with the cold fronts this time of year, we get some very low tides in the mornings. These tides can empty out most of the back bays, leaving most of them with less than 1-2 feet of water. During these tide phases, fish will find the nearest deeper hole or channel and huddle up. Sheepshead, mangrove snapper, seatrout, pompano, ladyfish, black drum, and redfish can all be caught in these channel edges, creeks, and holes. Most of the time, we are fishing with just half of a shrimp on a 1/4oz jighead, either sitting on the bottom, or slowly dragging it back to the boat.
December 22, 2017
Fishing in the last couple months has been both challenging and rewarding. The weather has been great, allowing for plenty of good fishing days! The water is cooling off a bit, averaging in the low 70's, which is allowing us to fish two different ways. Fishing with live bait fish, has been producing some nice snook, seatrout, and jacks.We have also been using small bucktail type jigs tipped with shrimp to catch pompano, trout, ladyfish, jacks, bluefish, and even some small bonnethead sharks! Here are some good examples of our catches:
October 5, 2017
It's been quite a struggle here in Naples for the last month or so. Hurricane Irma has really done a number to our area. While I was fortunate to not have any serious damage to my home or boat, many friends and family members weren't so lucky. The storm took me off the water for about three weeks, while it was hard to be "out of the office" for that long, my efforts were focused on helping those in need in any way I could. Things are getting closer to normal every day now, and I've been able to hit the water and do some fishing!
With all the recent rain, the backwaters are holding a lot of freshwater runoff. This type of water isn't the best for the fish we are targeting, so the fish are staging closer to the passes, where the water a little cleaner and saltier. With the fish concentrated in a smaller area, it can bring on a hot bite! Lots of fish in a small area means less travel time and more fishing time! Snook, redfish, small tarpon, jack crevalle, and mangrove snapper are all taking baits eagerly. Here's a shot of a small tarpon mid backflip near the mangroves:
Here's a nice redfish that got tangled up in the trees, so I jumped in to grab it:
August 8, 2017
Fishing in the middle of summer in Naples can prove to be somewhat challenging! The last couple months have been no exception. The weather goes from steaming hot to pouring rain and lightning at the flip of a switch, and many recent outings have involved dodging storms. Also, the live pilchards that we use for bait spawn out this time of year, leaving only very small baits near the beaches and passes to use. While easy to catch in the net, you really have to pick through them to find baits that are big enough to cast, and stay on the hook.
Once bait has been acquired, you don't typically have to go far to find feeding fish. The hoards of bait fish near the beaches and passes attract all kinds of attention, especially early in the morning and late in the evening. The fish concentrating to hard on the bait schools can be both good and bad, depending on the tide. As the tide flushes in, the schools of bait push further and further into the backwaters, spreading the bigger fish out onto many banks and points. As the tide goes out, freshwater runoff flows out towards the passes, and the baitfish flow back out with it, leaving the bigger fish seemingly less excitable.
All that being said, we are still catching fish on every trip, mostly snook, mangrove snapper, small barracuda, and some redfish and small tarpon in the mix. Incoming tide definitely has the stronger bite. Here are a couple nice summertime fish:
June 5, 2017
Things are finally starting to feel like summer here in Naples! The winds are calming down a bit, the gulf water is getting nice and clear, air temps are getting downright hot come mid morning or so. The clear, warm water has really turned on the fishing in the last couple weeks! Snook have definitely been the main attraction, and wherever you can find clean water running into a shoreline with any kind of structure on it, you can bet there will be some hungry snook around. Fishing with live pilchards, anglers in the last couple weeks have landed 20 or more snook almost every morning, with a couple mornings totaling over 40 snook! Most of these fish are in the 20-30 inch range, with a few fish coming in over 30. Here's a nice one I was lucky enough to reel in myself one morning last week:
Even though the snook are gobbling up most of our baits (which we aren't complaining about), there are still some other species getting in on the action. Mangrove snapper, jack crevalle, small barracuda, redfish, sharks, and tarpon are all taking the bait as well! Here are a couple nice ones:
May 4, 2017
The wind has been quite a deciding factor in the fishing we've been doing the past couple weeks. It's been very breezy almost every day for a while now here in southwest Florida, and it's causing problem on and off the water! Strong winds coupled with drought has sparked wild fires all over our area, and have covered the Naples area in a smokey haze for days at certain times. When it comes to backwater fishing in the Naples area, we try to fish with the wind as much as we can. Setting up the boat upwind from the shoreline, and casting into mangrove pockets where the wind and current are pushing baits naturally, is the easiest way to be productive when dealing with high winds. When working these windy shorelines, we have been getting into flurries of action from snook, mangrove snapper, jack crevalle, redfish, and even some small tarpon! Here are some of the best catches:
We also had another successful morning of shark fishing a week or so ago. My angler, Bob, managed to catch both a lemon shark, and a very rare hammerhead! Both were 6-7 feet long and put up quite a fight! I'm always impressed to see these big fish, and catch them in only 5 feet of water!
April 18, 2017
The weeks coming up to Easter are always the peak of the "busy" season here in Naples. Every business is super busy, including the fishing guides! Boat traffic has been very heavy with both fishing boats, and recreational boaters just running around. Even though heavy boat traffic can make navigating the waterways more challenging, and can stir up the water, the fish still have to eat! Over the last couple weeks, the bite has been best on the first couple hours of the tide, both incoming and outgoing. This seems to be especially true on days where the tides a bit weaker, because it takes much longer for the tide to actually turn. Live pilchards continue to be the bait of choice for snook, redfish, jack crevalle, mangrove snapper, seatrout, and small tarpon. Here are some nice catches:
Also, the warmer water has recently turned on the shark bite in the backwaters, and we have been taking advantage! I've shark fished a few times in the past couple weeks, and have brought in some very nice lemon and bull sharks, from 5 feet up to 10 feet! Look at the videos page to see the biggest shark ever brought to the side of my boat! We use heavy spinning gear, a big circle hook, wire leader, and jack crevalles or catfish tails to catch these brutes. They will take long runs of hundreds of yards, and getting all the line back is quite a workout! Here's a few shots of sharks we brought to the boat this month:
March 22, 2017
Being on the water almost every day for the last few weeks, it's definitely the peak of busy season here in Naples! With the exception of the last five days or so, the weather has been nice and warm, and the bite has been steadily improving. Snook, jacks, mangrove snapper, goliath grouper, and redfish are all gobbling up live pilchards. Find clean, moving water and you'll find the best bite! Here are a few good ones from two weeks back:
Last week we were hit with a strong late season cold front, which dropped the water temperatures almost 15 degrees, and strong onshore winds stirred up the gulf waters quite a bit. With these conditions, we have been using pieces of shrimp on a 1/4 ounce jighead, or bucktail jigs, to catch seatrout, mangrove snapper, sheepshead, pompano, and even a few other surpries catches like small tarpon and permit! Here are some catches from the last week:
March 1, 2017
It seems as if the cool winter weather has gone away as quickly as it arrived! The last couple weeks have had afternoon temperatures in the mid 80's, and some of the bigger fish species are really turning on! Most mornings we have been able to get out and catch live baitfish. Free lining these baits along the points and coves of mangrove shorelines with good current flow have been producing good numbers of snook, mangrove snapper, jack crevalle, redfish, and even a few small tarpon! Over the last couple days, we've had a strong breeze from the south, coupled with a high incoming tide. Fishing areas where the tidal current and wind are pushing the same direction can prove to be super productive for those with a bit of casting skill. The redfish bite has been particularly good the last couple afternoons, with many reds caught from 23-33 inches! Here are a handful of good fish from this week:
February 15, 2017
Shrimp has been our bait of choice for the last couple weeks, and it's been working very well! Action has been very steady, using a couple different techniques. Fishing deeper creek mouths and mangrove shorlines with half a shrimp on a small J-hook and split shot can produce mangrove snapper, sheepshead, redfish, black drum, and grouper. Deeper channels and runs are holding pompano, seatrout, jack crevalle, ladyfish, and even small permit, we're using 3/8 ounce bucktail jigs in bright colors like pink, yellow, and chartruese, and a small piece of shrimp for scent.
Permit and pompano look very similar when they are the same size, but there are a few key
January 30, 2017
Our Naples "winter" has been a very mild one so far, with only a few days dipping into the low 50's and upper 40's. We continue to use mainly shrimp for bait, in a few different presentation methods. At higher tides, you can fish with a whole or half shrimp on freelined, or with a small lead split shot. Casting into the mangrove shorelines can produce snook, redfish, sheepshead, and mangroves snapper. At lower tides, fish tend to stack up in the deeper creek mouths and channels adjacent to shallow bays. When the tide is rushing through these deeper spots, we use shrimp on a bare jighead, or small bucktail jigs, and catch seatrout, pompano, bluefish, ladyfish, jack crevalle, and even small permit! Many of the fish we catch this time of year are great table fish, and it doesn't take too long to reel in a good fish dinner!
Pompano put up a stellar fight for their size, and are good eating too:
January 11, 2017
It's been a very busy holiday and new year so far! The weather is finally starting to cool off, with cool fronts becoming more and more regular. Most mornings start out a bit chilly, and heat up after a few hours to become quite pleasant. Over the last few weeks, anglers have been fishing with live sardines, as well as live shrimp, and are catching quite a variety of fish species. Fishing mangrove shorelines and channel edges with sardines has been producing snook, jack crevalle, bluefish, ladyfish, grouper, and a few redfish. On the days when water is a little colder, using either half of a shrimp on a hook, or a small piece of shrimp on a bucktail jig has been producing trout, mangrove snapper, sheepshead, and pompano.
Cooper had quite a bit of luck last week, catching a keeper sized gag grouper, and a big jack on back to back casts:
Joe had quite a battle way in the backcountry with this beautiful overslot redfish:
November 9, 2016
In the last few weeks, the only thing that has been constant in Naples is the wind! Since hurricane Matthew blew by in the Atlantic, we have had nonstop wind from 10-25mph out of the northeast. While this much wind isn't typically favorable for fishing, it has kept the weather on the cooler side. Pilchards are still plentiful all along the beaches and nearshore wrecks, and continue to be our first choice for bait. Most of our baits are being taken by snook and jack crevalle of all sizes, with species thrown in the mix like redfish, mangrove snapper, trout, bluefish, ladyfish, and even small tarpon. Here's a photo of a nice keeper sized snook I caught late last week:
Tom and his Daughter Dana enjoyed a hot late morning bite, and landed a few nice redfish:
October 6, 2016
Fall is officially here, although not much has changed with the weather or the fishing. We continue to get out as early as possible to beat the heat, and find many hungry fish ready to eat. Redfish, snook, mangrove snapper, jack crevalle, and juvenile tarpon are all being caught on nearly every trip! Snook are still one of the more common catches, as they are for most of the warmer months, anglers can expect to catch 10-20 snook in a morning trip. Our average snook is around 20 inches long, with the occasional large fish at 30+ inches. Nick caught a beautiful 35 incher at the first spot of the morning last week:
Redfish continue to impress anglers on a daily basis. As the numbers of redfish in the area at their highest this time of year, and they aren't small! The smallest fish caught in the last month was around 22 inches, and most of the others are 25-33 inches long! Here are a few photos of recent catches:
August 30, 2016
We are approaching my favorite time to fish here in Naples! Over the next couple months, it seems like every fish around is hungry. Snook, mangrove snapper, small tarpon, jack crevalle, groupers, and redfish are all eating well right now and are being caught mostly every day. Baitfish are still plentiful and getting bigger by the day, which aids in getting some of the bigger fish interested in what we're offering.
This is the time of year when the redfish bite is best in our area. Whether it's low tide and they are cruising a shallow shoreline, or high tide and you're casting to them in flooded mangrove pockets, redfish seem to be all over right now. Over the last few trips, anglers have wrestled in multiple redfish anywhere from 20-30 inches.
Here are a couple photos from the last few trips:
July 27, 2016
Summer is in full swing here in Naples, and it's hot! The bait fish have spawned, and there are hoards of small baits along the beaches and inside the passes. Many fish can be found gorging themselves on the masses of bait early in the morning and late in the evenings. It's crucial to get out during these "cooler" times, in order to find the best bite, as the fishing really slows down towards the middle of the day when the water heats up.
As I mentioned, the bait fish are a little on the small side, and the size of our catch has been affected by this somewhat. Smaller snook and mangrove snapper have been the most common catches, with other species mixed in like goliath grouper, redfish, and jack crevalle. Here are a few nice keeper sized snook caught recently:
Redfish are showing up here and there, and are always welcome at the end of the line!
Lastly, there have been plenty of sharks cruising around in the backwaters looking for an easy meal. Here's a rare little hammerhead caught on a recent outing:
June 7, 2016
We are getting into my favorite time of year to fish, summer! The weather is hot, and so is the fishing. The backwaters are really warming up, and fish are pushing closer to the cooler, clearer, gulf waters. Fishing in clear water can be super fun, sighting fish and presenting accurate casts to trigger the bite. Snook, redfish, tarpon, jacks, and sharks continue to be our main targets. Snook are the primary catches on most outings, and have been all sizes from 15 all the way up to 40 inches. On mornings with a good strong tide, it's not uncommon to catch 20-30 snook!
Bill and I had a fun morning sight casting to snook along the beaches and he landed a nice 31 incher to end the trip!
I got the opportunity to catch a couple fish for myself last week, and I managed to catch a beautiful snook, around 35 inches.
Jack Crevalles can often be found in large schools, and when they find a school of bait fish they can get into quite a frenzy. In this state, they will eat just about anything you throw into the school, Matt and Pete were lucky enough to get into a "jack attack".
Sharks really start moving through the backwaters in the summer and they are often pretty hungry! Here's a nice sized blacktip shark caught over the weekend.
May 5, 2016
Fishing has really started to break loose in the last couple weeks! With relatively calm conditions, bait has been more and more plentiful every day. Easy bait is never a bad thing! As for the fish that are taking the bait, they are cooperating more and more as well. Fish are holding on mangrove islands and points that have good current flow, and are looking up tide for an easy meal. We are catching as many as 20 snook per trip, anywhere from 16-36 inches long. John got a nice 34 incher for his first fish of the morning:
Pete came along for a little night fishing caught a bunch of snook, ending the night with a 30 inch beauty:
The redfish bite seems to be improving as well, anglers are getting a couple chances to do battle with nice reds nearly every trip. Most fish are between 20 and 30 inches, Jim got this one just under 30 last week:
Jamie got to show his grandson a great looking red, right under 27 inches:
Along with the snook and redfish, we are catching jack crevalle of all sizes, mangrove snapper, gag grouper, goliath grouper, and the tarpon and sharks are beginning to get very active as well! Here's a great shot of a nice goliath grouper that took quite a bit of effort from these seasoned anglers:
April 4, 2016
As the spring breakers return home from the past few weeks, things are calming down a little.The last three weeks are the busiest weeks on the water in our area, and I fished just about every day! The water continues to warm up, and is getting right up close to 80 degrees, which has the fish moving around and feeding pretty good. But, there have been a few things holding the anglers back from catching all the fish they can. One thing is that the only bait around right now is nearly the size of my hand, which is about twice the size of an ideal bait. These large baits can swim much more freely than smaller ones, allowing them to quickly move from where you cast them, effectively swimming themselves out of the "strike zone". Big baits are also harder for the fish to swallow, so we will get a lot of fish that pick up the bait, but the bait and hook will just pull out of the fishes mouth when the line comes tight. Another hindrance to the anglers has been the birds. Every year for a couple weeks, the terns will come inshore and they will follow the fishing boats around in droves. Sometimes we would have as many as ten birds circling the boat, and diving on our baits constantly. Occasionally we will have to move from a spot where the fish are biting just to get away from the pesky birds!
We are still targeting redfish, snook, small tarpon, and jacks, and they are starting to bite pretty good! Redfish caught recently were 19 to 28 inches. Snook are coming to the boat anywhere from 20 inches, all the way up to 40 inches! Alex had a heck of an afternoon with me last week, landing a 33 inch snook, and a 39 incher!
Dan got a nice light-tackle tarpon on the first stop of the morning, right around 15 pounds:
Lee got worn out by a big jack crevalle, a true test for any angler:
March 16, 2016
Things are finally starting to warm up for us here in Naples, and it's doing good things for the fishing! March can be one of the toughest months to fish our area, as it's a "transition month". This means that we are essentially in between seasons, and the weather isn't very stable. However, as the water continues to warm up, more and more bait fish will show up near shore, which are what the fish want to eat right now. Whenever it has been calm enough to get offshore and catch bait, my anglers haven't had too much trouble getting a couple nice fish.
The most common catches the past couple weeks have been snook and jacks, but there are also some redfish, goliath grouper, and small tarpon coming to the boat. Here are a few of the good ones from the past two weeks:
February 24, 2016
It's now the busiest time of the year for the fishing business in our area, and I've been fishing just about every day this month. As is typical this time of year, we are fishing with shrimp, and various small, bright colored jigs. Focusing our fishing efforts on deeper shorelines and channel edges with good current flow is the key to getting bites. With water temperatures in the 60s, our Floridian fish are moving slower this time of year, and a slower presentation of the bait is key to getting fish, especially the larger ones.
We are catching a great variety of fish daily. Sheepshead, mangrove snapper, seatrout, and pompano have been the main catches recently. We are also catching a few redfish, mutton snapper, goliath grouper, ladyfish, and jack crevalle to add to the variety. Jack wrangled this nice jack to the boat after hooking it in a very tight creek mouth:
Joe and his son caught many very nice sheepshead on their afternoon trip this week, many of them ranging from 3-6 pounds!
January 6, 2016
The holidays are always a little hectic for me here in Naples. Lots of people want to go fishing, not only just with me, but there are hundreds of other boats out during this time of the year! So, whether you're on the water catching some fish, or out on the road getting some shopping done, Naples is a crowded place to be during the holidays.
However, there are still plenty of fish to go around for those that are lucky enough to get out there. We have still pretty much had a lack of cool weather up until the last two days, which has kept us using baitfish, and catching some of the larger fish around right now. We are still catching a few snook, redfish, mangrove snapper, and goliath grouper when fishing the mangrove shorelines. But we have been getting a lot of great action while fishing troughs and channel edges, which seem to be loaded with seatrout, bluefish, and jack crevalle of all sizes! Here are a few nice catches from around the holidays:
While the action may be better along the channels, the late morning and early afternoon boat traffic makes it nearly impossible to fish these areas comfortably. For this reason, I usually try to recommend booking a morning trip instead of an afternoon if given the choice.
December 13, 2015
Over the past month or so, we have been enjoying quite a diversity of fishing opportunities. The weather for this time of year is abnormally warm, keeping the baitfish around for a little longer. Every morning as the sun rises, huge schools of baitfish come together just off the beaches, with many hungry birds and fish to follow! Two weeks ago we had a few days straight of over cast skies, wind, and rain. The dreary weather drove in kingfish and bonito from way offshore, all the way in to 10 feet of water or so! Even though the rain only lasted a few days, the fish are still around, and boy are they fun fish to catch on light tackle! Many of these fish will take runs of 150 yards or more when hooked, and can are 10-30 pounds. Here are a couple of the kingfish:
Sarah got herself a very nice bonito that put up quite a fight!
The backwater bite has been pretty active as well, with steady action on seatrout, jacks, snook, and a few redfish thrown in the mix. We had a cold front move through on the week of Thanksgiving, and ever since then, we've had a great trout bite!Many of the trips I've fished for them, and anglers are easily catching their limits of these tasty fish. There have also been quite a few nice sized jacks around, they are anywhere from 3-10 pounds, and are always keeping angler busy :
While the snook continue to take live baits, it seems the redfish bite has slowed considerably. However, what redfish we do catch, are pretty nice ones! Here's a beautiful fish that measured in at 32 inches:
October 31, 2015
Lots of great fishing for the month of October! We have been having some unbeatable action on the water the past few weeks, with a great variety of fish, and tactics. Most of my trips are utilizing live bait, which has been widespread along the beaches and near the passes.
While I dont talk about fishing offshore much, lately there have been quite a few opportunities to catch some really fun fish just a mile or two off the beach. One of those fish is tripletail, one the most delicious fish you'll ever eat! It's stone crab season here in SW FL, so the gulf is lined with stings of crab pots. Tripletail are famous for hanging out under the buoys of the crab pots, and they will eat just about anything you put within a couple feet of them. There have also been vast schools of bait offshore, which are being demolished by spanish mackerel, king mackerel, and bonito. All three of those fish are very powerful, and prove to be some of the most exciting fish to catch on light tackle!
The backwater scene has been just as active most days. Snook and redfish are still our main targets right now, but we are getting mangrove snapper, goliath grouper, flounder, small barracuda, and jack crevalle in the mix as well. Snook being caught from 18-28 inches, and we are getting as much as 20 in a half day! Here's Daryl with a nice 28 incher on a windy day:
Redfish continue to eat well for anglers on almost every trip, sometimes getting as many as 10 in a day. The average size fish is 20-30 inches. As is normal for our area, the redfish bight is usually better when the tide is higher, and where there is good current. Here's yours truly with a nice 27 incher:
Matt got taken for a ride by this big jack early one morning:
One last thing for this month, October was the host of the annual Redsnook tournament here in Naples. This was my third year guiding a team in the tournament. This year I fished the Longhorn Steakhouse corporate team, who were sponsors of this great event. After two very long and challenging days of fishing, my team and I managed to secure a third place finish on our division! Here we are holding up our hardware at the awards banquet:
September 28, 2015
It's been a while since my last report. But there have been plenty of great fishing days since I last posted! While September is the slowest month for fishing in terms of business, it can host some the best fishing available here in Naples. We are catching a variety of fish species, but our main targets right now are snook and redfish.
Snook have continued to cooperate with anglers all throughout the month. The majority of the fish are still in the 19-24 inch size, and some trips have produced well over 20 snook to the boat. There are still a few giant snook lurking around in the mangroves. While out on a solo trip a couple weeks ago, I wrangled a big 38'' snook out from the bushes, I happened to get the whole fight on video, which you can see on the video page. Here's a photo of the fish upon release:
Redfish have been the biggest stars this month, as the numbers of redfish being caught are the highest of any month this year. While it's not expected to get the same amount of redfish as we do snook in our area, some recent trips have produced as many as a dozen redfish coming boat side. Most of these fish are 22-30 inches, and prove to be some of the hardest fighting fish around! Here are a couple nice specimens from the last few weeks:
Along with the snook and redfish, we are catching many other species mixed in. Mangrove snapper, jack crevalle, goliath and gag grouper, flounder and juvenile tarpon are all being caught regularly. Chelsea had her hands full trying to keep this jack out of the trees!
Here's Matt with a "fun size" tarpon:
This past weekend was my favorite fishing event I've ever been a part of. The Naples Take A Soldier Fishing tournament. This was my third consecutive year volunteering to take soldiers out for this event. This year, there were 140 soldiers competing, and over 70 boat captains offering up their boats to take these great Americans out on a Saturday for a great day of fishing, and a little friendly competition. My soldiers, who are both military pilots, and I were greeted with stellar fishing on Saturday! The tournament required a live weigh-in of two redfish, and two trout. We did extremely well on the redfish, catching many large ones, and even a couple that were too large! The trout proved to be the hard part of the day, and we only managed to catch trout that were too small to be brought in. At the end of the day, with only two of the four fish we were supposed to weigh in, we still managed to get 6th place out of the 70 boat field! Here's Jarrod Scoggins with the heaviest fish we were able to weigh:
Todd Staniewicz managed to get the biggest redfish of the day, and certainly one of the biggest caught during the tournament, at 31 inches and around 12 pounds:
August 11, 2015
We've had some unpredictable weather conditions, and fishing conditions, for the past few weeks. On the days we were able to get out and fish, it was obvious things were changing. The rains have stained the backwaters, and we are no longer getting that nice clean gulf water on the incoming tides. Also, the baitfish have spawned, leaving us with smaller baitfish than most other times of the year. When using these smaller baits, the size of the fish being caught are a little smaller, but still good in numbers. We are catching many snook, but mostly smaller than 22 inches or so, mangrove snapper to 15 inches, jack crevalle, a few juvenile tarpon, and redfish of all sizes, to 30 inches. Last Friday I went out with a buddy, and we had a great day on redfish, boating 7 reds up to 28 inches, and losing a couple more. Here's the two biggest of that morning:
July 5, 2015
As fishing goes, some weeks are great, and some are very slow and seem to drag along. Last week was one of the tough ones, and the week before was one of the great ones! In the last week of June, the action was hard to beat. Everything we were after, we were catching. On Monday, 6/22 we went after tarpon, which yielded this 100+ pound fish, caught on a catfish tail:
Tuesday, 6/23, we did a half day shark fishing, and landed three nice black tip sharks. Blacktip sharks are super are a very agile species of shark, they make blistering runs, change directions rapidly, and even jump completely out of the water when on the hook! On Wednesday and Thursday, we fished live bait, and were greeted with many hungry fish, mainly snook, with jack crevalle, mangrove snapper, and barracuda mixed in. Big snook were caught on each of these days, which just put the icing on the cake!
It seemed as though the action had ceased over the weekend, and fishing became much tougher. The sharks were not cooperating, and we caught less than half the amount of smaller fish than we were catching the previous week. Not only was the fishing tough, but so was finding good bait to use. Much of the good sized bait fish moved out of the area (likely to spawn), leaving only a few sizable ones around, and a bunch of "micro bait" that are 1-2 inches long, and very difficult to fish with. Though the week was challenging, things were starting to look up by Friday, where we had the best fishing of the week, along with another big 37 inch snook! Definitely a nice way to end the week!
June 21, 2015
The past few weeks have provided the best snook fishing so far this year! I've been fishing quite a bit and the clients are very happy. The main keys to success have been to fish as early or as late in the day as possible, and staying in the clean gulf waters near the beaches and passes. As long as a good presentation is made, fish are likely to eat whatever you put in front of them, whether it be artificial lures, flies, or live bait.
Snook are the kings of light-tackle fishing in the backwaters this time of year. Along with 10-20 average sized snook caught on each half day trip, both the strength of our tackle, and the skill of the anglers are being tested by some very large specimens. Here are some of the biggest fish of the year so far:
Aside from the snook, we are catching many mangrove snapper, and jack crevalle, and also a few redfish, grouper, and most recently some pompano. Here's a couple nice fish that put up a great fight underneath the mangroves:
May 18, 2015
I believe summer is officially here in Southwest Florida! With temperatures getting into the 90's most days in the past couple weeks, and afternoon showers have been very common. The seas have been very calm, and the water has become very clean and clear in the gulf and near the passes.
It seems that many of the snook and jacks are staying near the beaches and passes, in the clean water, and are providing great sight fishing opportunities. A well placed live bait, or a white fly or plug will very likely entice a bite. These two came all the way from France to catch snook, and here they are doubled up on snook on the flat calm beach:
While big snook are hooked on nearly every trip, it takes a good stroke of luck, or some great angling skill to land one of these brutes. The success rate is much higher with our smaller sized fish, which are generally a little more than 20'', like this double header:
Nice redfish continue to be caught along the mangrove shorelines, further in the backwaters, along with mangrove snapper, goliath grouper, and more. Most redfish are around the top side of the slot, from 25-30''. Here are a couple recent catches that are fine examples of the average fish:
Sharks are still in the backwater bays, and are still putting on a great fight for anglers who dedicate the time to get the bites. Two weeks ago we brought a nice spinner shark to the boat, the fish put on a great fight, making screaming runs and jumping quite a few times!
April 25, 2015
Warm and windy would be a great way to describe the weather here in Naples recently. Most mornings on the water have started out calm, but once the sun gets up, the wind starts blowing! Although the wind sometimes has a bad reputation among the fishing community, it does have it's advantages. The first would be that it provides us with a bit of a break from the heat. Also, fishing shorelines that have the wind and current hitting them can be very, very productive.
Although 9 out of 10 of my trips are live bait trips, most of the fish that we are catching can be caught on a well placed artificial lure or fly. With that being said, live bait is definitely the best way to get the most action. Snook have been the most popular catch, with most fish being around 20 inches, and one or two shots per trip at fish in the 30-40 inch range. It hasn't been uncommon to catch 5-20 snook in one spot! Amy hooked two big fish in one spot, but only managed to pull the smaller one out of the bushes, a 28 incher:
Mark was out with me yesterday, and he didn't waste his chance at a big one! He got this 38 inch bruiser at the final stop of the day:
As for table fare, we have been catching some nice mangrove snapper, in the 12-15 range, which are excellent eaters. Also, we are picking up redfish as well, most of which we catch are inside the slot limit to keep. Lastly, some of the biggest and hardest fighting fish we catch here in our backwaters, the jack crevalle and the goliath grouper, both of which continue to keep the rods bent for my anglers. Here's Amy with her first fish of the morning, a hefty 10 pound jack:
I took my girlfriend out to test out the new fishing rod I built her, and this jack was a good first fish to test it with:
Here's one of the bigger goliath groupers we've caught in the past week or so, likely in the 10-12 pound range:
Tarpon were showing up pretty good in the back bays last week, and early this week, and we hooked and lost one on cut bait. It seems to be the fish have since moved out of these bays and are near the beaches. It's just been a little to rough out there to comfortably target them for now. We have dedicted a little time on a few recent trips to try for a shark, and got bites on every occasion, but only managed to land one medium sized black tip shark around 4 foot.
April 13, 2015
The busiest part of the season is now coming to a close here in Southwest Florida. Fishing two trips almost every day for the past couple weeks, lots of fish have been coming aboard. Anglers are still getting a good variety of fish, from great fighters, to great eaters. Snook, jacks, redfish, snapper, and grouper are what we've been catching mainly. Well placed live sardines are being gobbled up with ease. Here's a good example of an average sized snook:
While the average sized redfish is a few inches larger than that of the snook, you can see the size difference in a snook and red of similar length with this double header caught on 4/10:
Last week I had a client come out on his own, so I decided to make a couple casts along with him. On my second cast of the afternoon I landed this nice overslot redfish, which my client was nice enough to take a photo of!
These last couple photos are two of the species that put our light tackle to the test on a daily basis, jacks and goliath grouper! Here's a nice jack that measures in at 8lbs, a big fish considering they are the strongest fish in our backwaters pound for pound:
Last, but certainly not least, the goliath grouper. I have become quite fond of these fish over the past couple years. They are big, strong fish, and for some reason they bite well when fishing is otherwise slow. Jack Seitz muscled this hefty 12 pound grouper out of heavy mangrove cover this morning, easily taking the big fish prize of the day:
March 25, 2015
It's been another great two weeks on the water, with many great catches to report. Most trips have had great fishing action with a variety of species. Live sardines are the bait of choice for the fish we've been targeting. Snook and jacks are feeding all along the mangrove shorelines throughout the backwaters with good current. Snook are being caught up to 30 inches and the jacks are getting up to 10 pounds, here's a nice 28 inch snook from 3/19:
We are catching redfish in deep creeks at lower water and on the flooded shorelines at high water, and are anywhere from 17-27 inches. George Gibson caught a beautiful 25 incher in a narrow creek on 3/23:
Seatrout can be found along the deeper channels near the gulf, and are being caught from 16-22 inches, here's a nice one from the afternoon of 3/23:
We've also been getting some other nice fish in the mix, such as flounder, mangrove snapper, spanish mackerel, gag grouper, and goliath grouper, George caught this nice goliath around 10 pounds right after he caught the redfish pictured above:
Lastly, shark fishing continues to be pretty reliable in the backwaters as well. On 3/21, we spent an hour of the trip soaking large pieces of jack crevalle. In that time, we were able to hook and land a lemon shark about 6 feet long, and a bull shark around 5 feet long, here's a shot of the bull as he came boat side:
March 18, 2015
March is the busiest month of the season for most fishing guides here in Naples, myself included. I've fished almost every day since my last report, and for the most part the fishing has been pretty steady. Live sardines are the bait of right now, but we are also using cut herring and ladyfish, shrimp, and jigs to catch a wide variety of fish species.
Jigs and shrimp are still producing bites from mangrove snapper along the shorelines and creeks, and seatrout, and pompano in the deeper channels and along the edges of sandbars. Sardines and cut bait are catching snook, jack crevalle, redfish, gag and goliath grouper, and snapper. Here's Todd displaying a fine middle of the slot redfish he caught on 3/14:
Sharks are starting to populate the backwater bays, and they have been eating pretty well! I had a full-day with a couple on 3/12, and we decided to soak a couple cut up jacks while we had our lunch. Shortly after finishing our sandwiches, we were greeted with line burning off one of the reels, only to be broken off as soon as we put pressure on the fish. It wasn't another five minutes before the second rod went off on we were hooked up. After an initial run of over 200 yards, and a 25 minute tug-of-war we got a nearly 7 foot long lemon shark!
March 2, 2015
We've had quite a diverse weather pattern recently here in Southwest Florida, from blinding morning fog, and cloudy days, to summer type days with temps up to the mid eighties and afternoon showers. This past week may have been the last of the "shrimp" fishing season, meaning I will be soon be switching to live sardines as the primary choice for bait. Hopefully, as the water continues to warm up, the snook bite will start to improve, along with the jack crevalle, redfish, and tarpon season will be here soon!
Since my last report, we have still been using shrimp and jigs to target our variety of cooler water species. Trout, sheepshead, mangrove snapper, and pompano were keeping the anglers' rods bent every trip. Fishing in the fog can be very productive, if you can find your way to the fishing spot! Here's young Dylan with his first of many on a very foggy morning last week:
Later on that day, as the fog burned off, the action continued with some nice sheepshead and pompano:
This past weekend, the bite seemed to taper off a little, but we still got a few nice ones in the boat, here's Allison with her best catches from Saturday morning:
February 16, 2015
Windy and chilly! That is a suitable title for this fishing report the past couple weeks. It seems as though the wind has not taken a break yet this month, and the chilly air has brought water temperatures down around 60 degrees. Many of my clients will ask "What time is better for fishing, morning or afternoon?" The simple answer for southwest Florida is both! Of course this doesn't mean that fishing is excellent all day, every day, but that the time of day is not the most important factor in what makes fishing "better". The most important factor in backwater fishing is tidal flow. Typically, fishing is better with stronger tides.
Anglers have been greeted with a variety of fish in recent trips. Focusing on deeper shorelines and backwater channels, sheepshead, mangrove snapper, trout, redfish, black drum, mutton snapper, grouper, ladyfish, jack crevalle, pompano, and even permit are taking the bait! All fish were caught on shrimp with a plain hook and split shot, and small bucktail type jigs.
This time of year, you just never know what you're going to catch when fishing in SW FL, here is a prime example of that, a nice little backwater permit!
January 25, 2015
The beginning of the new year has been a bit of a slow start as far as the fishing is concerned. Action has been a little slower than the past couple years, but anglers are still landing multiple catches on each trip. Live sardines are still available as long as the weather is good. However, the bite with the sardines seems to have slowed down a bit. We were catching a lot of jacks, and only a few snook and redfish here and there. Jacks are wonderful, hard fighting, and fun fish to catch overall, but they lack the food quality that many anglers would like to have. Fishing with shrimp has been the ticket to getting the fish to the dinner table lately. Although the catches tend to be a little smaller on average with shrimp, the ratio of edible fish caught tends to be a little higher. Anglers are catching trout, mangrove snapper, sheepshead, redfish, black drum, and pompano on live shrimp, pieces of shrimp, or even small jigs tipped with a little shrimp, to catch these tasty fish!
December 27, 2014
As we are wrapping up another great year, the fish are still out there and biting! As is the same for any other holiday week, Christmas week is very busy on the water, not just for the fishing guides either. Unless you're fishing early in the morning, you'll be fighting the hoards of boat traffic going up and down the waterway. Luckily, knowledge of Naples' backwaters allows me to give anglers the opportunity to get away from the busy main waterways, and enjoy some tranquil waters and good fishing action.
When the weather allows, live sardines have been the bait of choice. All month long these baits were catching snook, jack crevalle, redfish, mangrove snapper, and even some grouper! When the weather was a little on the harsher side, frontal conditions mostly, live sardines weren't available and we used shrimp and jigs to get the job done. This method provided many anglers with some tasty catches like trout, redfish, mangrove snapper, and pompano.
Lastly, there has been quite a bit of action just off the beaches between Marco Island and north Naples. As long as the winds were calm, we were able to find large schools of spanish mackerel, with some bonito mixed in. Also, with the abundance of stone crab traps lined up in the gulf, tripletail are a common catch when running along the buoys. Looking forward to another great year on the water in 2015!
November 11, 2014
The first cold fronts of the season have shown up, making most days on the water very comfortable. Aside from the days when the fronts are passing through, we have been fishing with live sardines. Snook, nice sized jacks, mangrove snapper, and redfish are all taking the sardines. There have been a few days in the past few weeks that we had to fish with shrimp. Those days were still filled with plenty of action. Using pieces of shrimp on a bare hook, or a bucktail type jig tipped with shrimp produced great numbers of redfish, snapper, snook, sheepshead, trout, and even small grouper.
Jack Ladley has been out with me a couple times in the last couple week, here are a couple good fish from his trips:
On Saturday, 11/8, I guided a couple clients in the inaugural Guardian Anglers All Release Challenge Tournament. We started off strong, catching snook and redifsh and many others most of the morning. A front rolled in around noon, which covered the rest of our day with clouds and wind, which the fish didn't seem to like. Although we didn't have the most spectacular tournament day, we managed to win the award for the biggest snook, which we were happy to have!
September 29, 2014
We've had a bit of a crazy weather pattern for the past two weeks, with some very heavy rain storms showing up at every hour of the day. Despite the dodgy weather, fishing has still been pretty reliable. Though I haven't dedicated any time to fishing for them lately, tarpon have been all over the beaches and passes with the early outgoing tide. Snook, jacks, and mangrove snapper are happily taking baits all along the shorelines. And the redfish bite is getting better and better! Also, the backwater shark bite is pretty strong right now, we managed to hook seven sharks on a trip this week!
On the morning of 9/19, my clients and I were greeted by light to moderate rain, which persisted the entire trip. Though it took a little while to find the fish, once we got on them, we got plenty of snook, jacks, snapper, and a nice double header on redfish, which made us all forget about how soggy we were. Here's the couple with their double header:
Sharks are commonly on the top of anglers' lists of fish to catch. My girlfriend Chelsea, has had a shark on her list for some time now, so we decided to dedicate last Saturday morning to check it off the list. We stopped at a feeding frenzy of snook and jacks on the way to the shark spot, and caught three medium sized jacks for bait, and a nice 26 inch snook. We sat at the shark spot for about 25 minutes before anything happened, but once we got the first bite, it seemed there were lots of sharks nearby to keep the action going. We ended up hooking seven sharks, but only two bull sharks came boat side. Here are some shots of these scrappy 4-5 foot bulls:
September 16, 2014
So far, September has been a pretty great month on the water. I got the pleasure of guiding in the Naples Take a Soldier Fishing Tournament again this past weekend. This tournament is truly a great thing to be a part of! Over 100 active duty soldiers came down to Naples, and are treated to a free weekend and the opportunity to get out on the water and enjoy a full day of fishing with Naples' finest guides and fishermen.
This year, I was joined by a young military couple, both active duty in the army, Drew and Brittany. With the tropical system the passed through the previous day, I knew the fishing wouldn't be as great as it should. Despite the waters being stirred up, and not having much luck with the desired species, we made the best of our day together. We boated close to 20 snook, and plenty of jacks and snapper to keep us entertained. Near the end of the day, Drew hooks up to a big fish along a deeper shoreline. Never having hooked a fish this big before, Drew, and the rest of us were anxious to see this fish come to the surface! They had never seen a goliath grouper before, and this was a great one on light spinning tackle in the backwaters, at 16 pounds and 31 inches!
The day we had Saturday has been similar to the rest of this month. Redfish have been hit or miss, and big snook are still around. Took a trip with my buddy Pete a couple weeks ago and our day was made on the first two casts in the morning, which yielded a nice snook for him, and another good sized goliath for me:
August 27, 2014
Though August is one of the slowest months business wise, the fish are biting very well! Live bait is abundant off of the beaches right now, and is easily caught in the cast net early in the morning. After loading up on plenty of bait, anglers are greeted with very good action. Inside the passes, fishing shorelines with good current has produced many snook, catching as many as 30 fish in a morning. Also, redfish seem to be showing up throughout the backwaters, after being almost nonexistent for the past couple months. Here's Doug Poe with a mid-slot red:
July 25, 2014
This month has been very productive for the folks aboard my boat. Anglers are still catching good numbers of snook, jacks, snapper, and many others. With July being an especially hot month, the fishing action really drops off once the temperatures rise. It seems that bites are few and far between 11am and 5pm. But, the fish have been very aggressive for the couple of hours around sunrise and sunset. Lastly, fish are being taken on everything, live bait, cut bait, artificial, and flies.
Took a night trip out with my uncle and brother on July 2nd. Our plan was to throw some jigs around well lit docks and bridges, in hopes of snook and small tarpon. We ended up with a handful of snook around 20 inches, and went 1 for 2 on tarpon. Here's a shot of the tarpon that was fighting, I thought, too close to the boat, and ended up jumping right onto the bow!
On July 6th, my brother, Matt, and I headed out super early, in search of larger tarpon. Rigged up with only artificial lures, it proved to be unsuccessful. Luckily, we brought a couple lighter rods, and decided to find a couple snook to save the trip. Matt had quite a battle with this nice snook, caught on a gulp jig.
On the evening of July 14th, biggest snook landed on a charter of mine to date was caught. The fish was caught on a small chunk of ladyfish, which I've been using lately when the action is slow. This bruiser snook, weighing in at 20 pounds, and over 40 inches long, took about ten minutes for the rookie angler to reel in on 15lb test line. Lucky for us, the fish was caught on the low end of the tide, so she could not get entangled in the tree limbs.
June 23, 2014
Business is slowing down a little, which is allowing me some time for "fun fishing", which is what I call it when I get to wet a line for myself. Recent trips have produced good numbers of snook, a few redfish, jacks, mangrove snapper, and some rather unusual catches like small barracuda, and flounder.
The most productive tactic has been fishing for snook in good current near the passes. Recent calm seas have allowed the water to become relatively clear, and provide good opportunities to sight fish in these areas. Almost every trip has produced a hookup or two to some very large snook, and a couple made it boat side.
Here's a nice redfish caught on artificial near Marco Island:
And a nice, 12 pound snook to end the morning:
Took my girlfriend out last Friday in search of some fish, and after quite a battle, she ended up landing her biggest snook ever, a hefty 15 pounder!
June 6, 2014
Summertime is here! Rain has been in the forecast every dasy for the past week or so, but we've still been getting out there and catching what we can. Live pilchards have been the bait of choice on most trips. Anglers are catching a little bit of everything, including juvenile tarpon and big snook! The incoming tide in the morning seemed to have the better bite recently, and is the safer bet for better weather.
Jeff Mackie and his kids fished with me on the morning of 5/23. They had a ball, catching all kinds of fish, including a scrappy little black tip shark in shallow water, some nice trout, snapper, snook, and caught one out of the three small tarpon that they hooked. Here's Jeff with his first fish of the morning:
Jeff's son Pete with one of his many catches, a nice trout:
The morning of May 30th was a very slow start, but the my anglers toughed out the first half of the morning, and the bite turned on once the tide started in. They caught some nice snook and jacks, including a very nice 35 inch, 16 pound snook. Here is Bob with his prized catch:
May 20, 2014
Busy season is almost winding down here in Naples, but the fishing is still going pretty strong. It seems that the hardest part of each trip is catching the bait in the morning before each trip. As long as enough bait is caught, it hasn't been too hard to get some good bites. Earlier this month I spent a morning and evening trip with EJ and his son Ed, and they got into some good fish. We decided to dedicate the morning to some shark fishing, and ended up landing a small blacktip shark, and a nice 7ft lemon shark, that was nearly 200 pounds.
Here are the two taking turns on the hefty lemon shark:
After a 45 minute fight, they finally wrestled the shark boatside, so I could get a hand on the leader
On their afternoon trip, we caught redfish, snook, jacks, and snapper. It was an exceptionally good afternoon for redfish, as we caught 8 reds from 23-27 inches in the first spot. Here are a couple of the best ones:
I took a couple friends out one morning, just looking for something that pulls hard, we decided to soak some baits in hopes of a shark. As I commonly do when this type of fishing, I put out one rod for each of us, and assigned each person a particular rod. Of course, my rod is the first to go, and it was no small fish! I knew from the fight that this was no normal shark, it didn't make the normal long runs or big head shakes that are typical of the sharks we catch. As the one hour mark approached, I opted to pass the rod off and let someone else fight it, since this would most likely take the better part of out trip to land. After nearly two hours, the monster rose up, and showed itself to be a giant guitarfish! The best way to describe it would be body of a shark mixed with the head of a ray. I estimated the fish to be between 10 and 12 feet long, and 300 pounds or more.
I also spent a couple days with Jose, who came all the way from Brazil, just to fish in south Florida. He wanted to strictly throw artificial lures in search of redfish and snook. We fished hard for two full days and were paid off with a few really nice fish. Most of which were caught on topwater lures, which made the takes very explosive, one of my favorite ways to catch fish. Here's Jose with his best catches:
April 27, 2014
It's been a relatively easy week on the water, with many fish being very cooperative for the anglers. The incoming tide was very strong this week, which made the morning and evening trips quite productive. Average sized fish are 18-25 inch snook, with a few being well over 30 inches, 8-15 inch snapper, 20-30 inch redfish, 15-30 inch goliath grouper, and jack crevalle anywhere from 12 inches all the way up to 35 inches. There are many fish out there right now that are testing the limits of our light-tackle! A well placed bait and a little bit of luck can really pay off this time of year!
Jim Henricks fished on Wednesday afternoon, and caught the biggest redfish of the week, a beatiful 29 incher!
Thursday morning I fished with Brian Stoning and his 5 year old son Ben. They caught all kinds of fish, and lost a bunch of big ones that were just too strong! Here's the duo with a double header trout and snook at the last stop of the morning:
Ben Tantillo had a great evening trip Thursday, doing battle with some giants! Here's his biggest catch of the trip, a big jack crevalle that fought for about 15 minutes!
April 19, 2014
While dodging the wet weather the past couple of days, my trips have produced some really nice fish! Redfish, snook, jacks, mangrove snapper, goliath grouper, and a few others are taking the bait and putting up great fight for the anglers! Many trophy sized fish have been hooked and tragically lost, simply because of their sheer power and ability entangle themselves deep in the mangrove roots. However, many anglers have luck on their side, and land some great fish! At our first stop on Friday morning, Mike Nelson and his two daughters, Sarah and Emily, were taken by surprise with a double header with two big fish. Mike had an over slot redfish on, and Sarah had a giant 20+ pound snook on. After fighting for over ten minutes, Sarah's giant snook made a turn about ten feet from the boat and out popped the hook. We quickly had to get over the loss of this beast and land Mike's nice red. Here is the father-daughter team with their best catch:
April 16, 2014
Fishing has picked up this week, with some hard fighting fish coming aboard, and quite a few bigger fish getting away. Live pilchards have been the bait of choice. A well placed bait along the edge of the shade cast by the low hanging mangroves is the ticket to triggering a bite. Snook, redfish, and jack crevalle have been the popular catches, with some others like nice sized mangrove snapper, goliath grouper, even a couple flounder.
Dan Peters brought out his wife Debbie for her first saltwater fishing experience, they had a blast catching some hard fighting fish.
Here's Debbie with her first saltwater fish, a 10 pound jack crevalle, hard to beat these guys on light tackle!
Debbie also brought home this nice redfish for their dinner:
These two gentleman had a productive afternoon, catching a couple nice redfish, snook, and a bunch of nice jacks:
Sharks and larger tarpon are starting to move into the back bays as well. If you dedicate some time to fishing for them, it can pay off with a huge catch!
April 4, 2014
The last couple weeks of March as well as this week has been very busy. As always, some days were much more challenging than others, but we managed to catch fish even in the toughest conditions. The late March cold fronts brought along high winds and low temperatures. Creek fishing was quite productive on these days, producing snapper, sheepshead, black drum, grouper, and a few small tarpon.
Here are a couple good catches from a windy March morning:
Live bait fish, in combination with a well placed cast at high tide, can produce great catches when the weather is warm. Even though Kyle was limited to fishing sitting down because he was on crutches, he made a couple great casts that paid off big!
Here is Kyle with his first redfish of the day, right at the top of the slot:
Kyle kept catching all the way through the afternoon, and caught his best fish on the last cast of the day, a monster trout, at 27 inches and 7 pounds:
February 27, 2014
Many trips over the past two weeks, and many fish caught as well! I have been focusing on two different fishing methods recently. The first is a live bait fish, free lined near the mangrove shorelines. This method is working great for snook, reds, and some big jack crevalle. The other method that has continued to work very well, in the deeper backwater channels is a small, bright-colored buck tail jig, with a small piece of shrimp. Recent catches on the jigs have been anywhere from trout, jacks, and ladyfish, to small sharks and pompano. The redfish bight has really been picking up in the past week, and treating anglers with a great fight!
Willy Knight caught his first ever redfish on 2/22:
Here's a shot of yours truly with a nice red caught by Len Little:
Big jack crevalle are one of the best fighting fish in our waters and they almost never pass up a well placed live bait, Willy caught this nice one on a very foggy morning:
Mid seventies water temperatures are bringing sharks and tarpon into the area, and can offer great fights, as well as a chance to land a really big fish in the Naples backwaters. Sharks and tarpon are some of the most memorable catches one could ask for! Be sure to ask about them if you'd like to book a charter.
February 11, 2014
Trips the past few days have been quite a change of pace. With temperatures up to the mid-eighties some days this week, the waters are up to 75 degrees. Schools of bait fish are showing up in the gulf, and the snook, tarpon, redfish, and big jacks are eating them just fine. The fish are also taking artificial lures such as flies and small bucktail type jigs.There are still plenty of sheepshead, snapper, and a few black drum hanging around, many have moved out towards the beaches and passes.
Jill Dyer caught a nice black drum on 2/7/14:
Peter was out with me on Sunday morning, and had caught a nice backcountry tarpon as the last fish of the trip:
January 28, 2014
Last week was a busy one with many productive trips. With an average water temperature of about 63 degrees, winter fishing tactics were proving to be very effective, mainly fishing pieces of shrimp on a 1/4 ounce jig head. Trips last week were producing up to nine different species of fish, mainly sheepshead, black drum, mangrove snapper, and trout. With the conditions we had last week (midday low tides coupled with strong northeast winds and frontal conditions), the importance of a super shallow draft boat, and knowledge of the skinny backwaters were the keys to success. Being able to access deeper holes and creeks in the back country is critical when the water is low or you will be forced to stay in the busy channels with everyone else!
Sonny caught this nice back country redfish on Monday afternoon 01/20/14:
January 13, 2014
Last Friday and Saturday proved to be some of the toughest fishing I've experienced in a while. A combination of unstable weather and weak tides made it tough to find good numbers of fish. Sheepshead and snapper were still biting pretty well, anglers caught several on each trip using shrimp. Jig fishing produced only a couple pompano, jacks, and a small permit. Permit, while very similar to pompano, are a fairly rare catch in the backwaters here. While these fish are rather small, their big forked tail and muscular body make them quite a fun fish to catch! Here is Steve with his surprise permit from Friday morning:
The black drum are still showing up here and there, here's Steve Tharpe with the fish he invited home for dinner:
Hopefully the fishing will pick up in the next couple weeks, and the winter weather pattern will finally set in! It's not like me to wish for cold weather, but this cold for two days then hot for two days business is making fishing difficult.
January 8, 2014
Yesterday was the coldest day Naples has seen in quite a while, with air temperatures in the low to mid 50's all day, and water temperatures at a chilly 62 degrees! I layered up and headed out for an afternoon trip with a couple from Germany, one of which had never fished before. With the super low, midday tide, the plan was to fish shrimp in the deeper holes and creeks, where fish would likely be huddled up. Creek fishing was almost a necessity if we wanted to hide from the strong and cold winds.
Fishing was a little slow, but we managed to catch pompano, trout, sheepshead, mangrove snapper, and a couple black drum. First time angler Friederika caught three different species on her first fishing trip ever. Here is the couple with the last fish of the trip, a nice black drum:
January 2, 2014
The last two weeks of 2013 were very busy on the water, with many productive trips. On Monday, December 23, live sardines were the bait of choice. Anglers were busy for most of the day, with near constant action from snook, jacks, trout, and various other catches such as snapper and goliath grouper.
After Christmas, the primary baits were shrimp and jigs. Fishing close to the mangroves with shrimp is producing a number of mangrove snapper, sheepshead, gag grouper, goliath grouper, jacks, as well as black drum, redfish, and snook mixed in. Here's Alicia with her very first redfish, caught on December 30, 2013
Trout are being caught on live sardines, live shrimp, as well as soft plastic jigs. These fish are found on the deeper edges of flats and sandbars, with good current. Lastly, deep channels in the backcountry are producing good numbers of pompano, bluefish, and other bi catches like ladyfish and jacks. In these areas, a pink headed tube jig, tipped with a small piece of shrimp has proven to be quite effective.
2013 Was a great year with many great catches, as well as great memories, can't wait to see what the new year brings!
December 18, 2013
A small cold front has given us a couple relatively chilly days on the water, and has also caused some big early morning low tides. In the morning time, as the tide starts to come in, fishing deeper channels along the exposed sand and oyster bars produces a variety of different species such as trout, jacks, and Spanish mackerel. These fish are taking live shrimp, as well as soft plastic jigs. Fish are also being caught in the deeper holes along the mangrove shorelines, these include sheepshead, mangrove snapper, and redfish. Most fish in these areas are caught with live or even pieces of shrimp, presented on a hook with a small split-shot, or a jig head.
December 8, 2013
The week or so has proven to be a little tricky on the water. With cold fronts bringing chilly temperatures and strong winds for a couple days at a time, fishing tactics have to reflect the weather patterns.
On the colder days, we are fishing with shrimp and jigs in deeper water. Species caught on these trips were goliath and gag grouper, mangrove snapper, black drum, trout, sheepshead, and a redfish or two mixed in. Here's a photo of a very large inshore gag grouper caught on 12/07/13:
In between the cold fronts, we have had many beautiful days with daytime highs of around 85. These days, we are able to fish with live sardines. Higher tides have proven to be most productive, casting live sardines underneath the mangroves. Snook, redfish, and jacks of all sizes are being caught this way. Here's Dave Throesch with a nice high tide redfish:
The early morning low tides and light winds in the beginning of the week made for a good time sight fish with a fly rod, my dad and I headed out on Wednesday and were able to sight fish some nice redfish on fly, a couple of which we got on video, watch below for the action:
This has proven to be a great month of fishing. Snook and redfish being the primary targets, and plenty of other species mixed in. Fish have been caught on live sardines as well as jigs. Snook of all sizes were caught this month, with most being between 20-25 inches, and a few large fish up to 37 inches! It was not uncommon to catch 20-30 snook in a half day trip. Here's a large snook caught on a Gulp jig on 11/19/13:
Redfish continued to be caught all month long, most are nice fish, in the 23-30 inch range. High tides, casting live sardines into pockets in the mangrove shorelines prove to be most productive for reds. Esteban and Iggy Magana with the biggest of many redfish released on 11/5/2012: