Fly fishing

Tropical storm rain forcing inshore fishermen to adapt, offshore unaffected

Weather and fishing reigned supreme during the reporting period. Calm conditions quickly gave way to a passing tropical low pressure system, the flow keeping anglers on their toes with where to go and what to throw in.

While offshore land will rebound quickly as rough seas never materialized with the storm, the dynamics of the coastal arena have changed due to nearly 24 hours of moderate to heavy rain. The influx or intrusion of fresh water has significantly altered salinity levels in the Mid and Back Bay systems and pushed game and forage fish out of their traditional June haunts.

Savvy anglers venturing into shallow waters will notice the profound changes and adjust their approach tactics accordingly. Until water quality conditions stabilize, the focus should be on mid-bays, passes and along beaches where salinity levels will naturally be higher. Bait fish will be scattered with the best chance of filling the well and on some coastal man-made structures.

Previously:Southwest Florida Fishing Report: Perfect Conditions for Reeling Snook and Tarpon

After:Southwest Florida fishing report: Action set to heat up over Memorial Day weekend

After:Sunday fishing ban at Naples pier extended for a year

Prior to the early season tropical activity, the far offshore bottoms produced excellent catches of reef fish. Day trips produced bounds of red grouper with an eclectic mix of snapper. Anglers who made longer runs at depths greater than 160 feet would return to port with an abundance of catches of American red snappers and red gag groupers.

Expect the Gulf action to warm up only in June and the coastal waters to stabilize and become active again with exciting and intense game fishing activity.

Offshore: “Before the weather system, we were busy doing mostly half-day tours,” Captain Kraig Dafcik said. “The action was good with plenty of nets for everyone to take home.”

Dafcik and his crews concentrated their bottom fishing efforts in water depths of 48 to 55 feet. Working various hard bottom characteristics with a variety of jigs, squid and herring, the Alabama is back on the Port O Call marina docks with catches of white grunts, snappers, a scattering of red grouper and lots of Spanish mackerel on every outing.

Naples/Estero Bay: Aboard my Port O Call Marina based guide boat, the Grand Slam, I treated my angler groups to some exciting angling action. By prospecting the intervening bays, passes, beaches and artificial refuges for fish near the shore, a wide variety of species have found their way over the rail or into the landing net.

Early starts had us heading north and south from Gordon Pass along the coast in search of tarpon, shark and Spanish mackerel. The mid-morning to early afternoon bite had us venturing into mid bays and passes targeting snook, rockfish, pompano and mangrove snapper with a variety of live bait and artificial.

Ten Thousand Islands: “Before the tropical climate, fly fishing was excellent in the Upper Ten Thousand Islands,” said Goodland-based guide Captain Paul Nocifora. “Hopefully the waters clear quickly and we resume a normal traditional sight fishing schedule.”

Early in the fishing day, Nocifora and her casters can be found working the shallow shores of the middle bay for snook or the gulf facing shores for tarpon. According to Nocifora, casting a lightbulb pattern in white color worked well for snook and presenting a wide profile baitfish fly attracts the attention of feeding tarpons.

Nocifora recommends being on the water by dawn, focusing on areas of moving water with baitfish and wader activity for best catching results.

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