Report for Naples, Marco Island and the Ten Thousand Islands
Capt. Matt Hoover
February 16, 2000
Marco Island - Saltwater Fishing Report
There was a welcome break in the weather this last week. It was a sign of things to come. I wouldn’t put the woolies away just yet. Old Man Winter is quite capable of giving us a shot drawn from the ankles in the fifteenth round. There is some very cold air to the neighboring north and the jet stream has been known to slide in the later part of February and early March. All indications show that spring is on its’ way. The key is water temperature. If the mercury comes up into the seventies, snook and their counterparts will make their way out of the deep backcountry and surrounding woodwork.
Like humans, fish just feel better when the weather improves. It will take some time for the water temperature to rise, but every degree brings back life to our beloved estuaries. Snook do not like cold water. They move into the deep backcountry. Some of them move into the “sweet water” of the everglades. The water is shallow and the contrast is darker. That allows the surroundings to stay a few degrees warmer than elsewhere. For the snook it is a matter of survival. That is why you will hear about some of the large snook kills in the past from freezing temperatures. They get blind-sided by a winter front before being able to drop into the safety of deeper water.
Catching is the desired end result of the fishing equation. That end result improved dramatically this past week. Not many snook are being caught yet. The same can be said for the redfish. We never did get a very good showing of redfish this year. If you really try to fish for them, you may pick up one or two in an outing. Theo van Dieman from Holland managed a seven-pound redfish on the fly rod this week. We saw quite a few but they are not very aggressive. He also caught a few small snook as well. The regular winter cast of characters were in a good mood this past week. Jacks, ladyfish, trout, pompano, and sheepshead were more than happy to accommodate you.
Pompano have been a regular around the Caxambas area on the incoming tide. I saw more than one bushel hit the cleaning table this week. They like smaller jigs. If you cut back yellow potgut style jigs, you will get desired results. Small tube jigs are perfect for pompano too. We have been catching mammoth ladyfish and an occasional large trout while targeting pompano. I like the sound of that. If you have lived in Southwest Florida for a few years, when was the last time you “targeted” pompano with any guaranteed success? It is living proof that our conservation efforts are paying off.
Sheepshead are still a main attraction. I have been using chunks of shrimp threaded on a small number two hook. I will use just enough split shot to let the bait bounce on the bottom with the current. I think using a smaller hook is the key to your hookup ratio. Look for the jailbirds in three to eight feet of water where there is structure or hard bottom. Most of the deeper runs in the Caxambas area have been holding plenty of sheepshead. You may catch a black drum while you’re at it.
Trout have been occupying the grassflats in good numbers. My anglers have been catching plenty of keeper size trout all week. We have been getting them on the flats or over grass in front of the islands. The deeper runs along the islands in the refuge have been holding plenty of keeper trout too. I have been using quarter ounce jigs with a rootbeer screwtail grub on it.
Enjoy the warm spell. Keep a look over your shoulder just to make sure you don’t get caught in the cold. It’s getting better every day. I’ll see you on the water.
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