Offshore: You still had to have a suitable vessel to venture off the beach but the bigger head boats reported nice catches of snapper, grouper, and kings. Other crews found those smoker kings from 3–9 miles out; just look for the birds and boils. Scads of Spanish hacked baits and softplastics pitched into the bait pods just off the pass mouths and off the close reefs at 3–5 miles. Polish up those old spoons and lace in a length of 60lb. mono; maybe you get your metal back outa the assault.
Other action was good on snapper, white grunts, and sharks on the close marks. Diggers hooked up some goliaths and short grouper on pins. Cobia are the stars if you sit out on top of the reefs at 3–5–9 miles; pins have been the top baits but don’t go throwing back those squirrel fish, bluerunners, and catfish, bigger maybe better at times; keep the faith. Red-and-white ½-oz. jigs tipped with mullet, white shad tails, and even a big shrimp are handy offerings for cruising ling and kings. Chumming is a pretty good idea.
Backbay: The redfish have adjusted to the drop in water temperature and are hungry for shrimp, pins, shiners, and crab parts. Some lucky anglers have sight-fished reds lollygagging on the shallow pots trying to get warm. A hunk of mullet, Spanish sardines, or a gob of shrimp can get the lazy sunners moving. Crews reported good bites in Estero Bay and on the flats on the inside bars around the Ding in Pine Island Sound. Gold and silver spoons also took fish, but you’ll need to wait out the late morning warm-up. We found reds cooperating under the mangrove edges and kept to our good-old-boy pattern of shrimping jig under a popping cork; no monsters but some slotties for the pan. Bring plenty of stinky shrimp for chumming the bushes; gotta get ‘em riled up with a nice scent trail. Old dog, old tricks. Trout can be on a hellacious chew, but you’ll need to cover some real estate to find good slot fish lots and lots of shorts. Sheepies are thick around the structures near the passes and at the feeder creeks; crews nabbed some fatties on Mound Key in Estero and in the York Cut up north; good stuff!
Freshwater: Bass addicts slowed their patterns used shiners, blown nightcrawlers, and scented softplastics. There are plenty of bucket mouths in the pitches and ponds. Don’t overlook the masses of cichlids hungry for wigglers and shrimp bits.
Capt. Ron Kowalyk: 239-267-9312