Winter Fishing the Backwaters of Naples with El Nino
Capt. Todd Geroy
February 11, 2016
Naples - Saltwater Fishing Report
Boy, what a change we have made with the weather during the last month. January started out more like summer and thanks to the powerful El Nino, we were suddenly forced into one of the most extreme winter seasons I have ever fished through during my 34 year career. Severe frontal systems have been bringing damaging winds, muddying the water. Heavy rains have been staining the water followed by consistent chilly weather keeping the water temperatures in the low 60's and as cool as 57 in the waters that I fish.
Now that I got the "doom and gloom" statement aside, I am happy to report that we have had some very good fishing days. Not every trip has been a home run, but that's fishing and we always have a good time on the water.
The trout fishing has been very good this year. My anglers have caught easy limits on many trips. The cool waters have pushed the trout into the deeper back country channels. Low tides causes them to really bunch up in some spots. The better areas are holes adjacent to shallow edges that get good tide flow and have some hard shell bottom. We are catching trout on plastic curly tail jigs tipped with shrimp as well as live or half shrimp fished on the bottom.
The same areas are also producing sheepshead, mangrove snapper and black drum. A half shrimp rigged on a 1/4 oz. jig head and fished right on the bottom has been producing plenty of bites.
We have had to work harder than usual to find cooperative redfish although the ones we have found have been nice fish in the 24 to 26 inch range. Fishing a shrimp with a small split shot along fallen brush and deeper mangrove edges and being patient does the trick.
The most important tip for cold water fishing is to slow down the presentation. Whether or not you are presenting a jig or bait. Cool water temperatures make our sub-tropical fish species sluggish. Keeping the bait if front of them and giving them time to make the decision to eat is key.
Hopefully spring-like conditions will start to evolve here during the next few weeks. Until then, we will just enjoy the fact that we are able to fish through February in SW Florida and catch some good fish while so many areas of the country are freezing or covered with snow!
trout, redfish, mangrove snapper, sheepshead
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