Sunday, March 8, 2015

Spring Transition is On in Naples Backwaters!

March is here and so is warmer weather bringing the annual spring transition on the local waterfront.  It is always amazing to me how quickly the fishing can change with just a few degrees difference in the water temperature.  During the last two weeks, the water has gone from as low as 58º to 75º in the back waters.  Seemingly overnight, came the appearance of big tarpon and sharks along with some great catches of snook and nice redfish. 

The tarpon are starting to make their appearance as they are beginning the annual “run”.  These are large fish ranging from 90 to 180 lb. monsters.  They are invading the shallow bays now and can be targeted with a variety of methods.  Live baits, “chunking” with cut bait are very effective as well as sight fishing with fly tackle when conditions warrant and casting with plugs are all common techniques.  I am seeing plenty of free jumpers fish as well as laid up and rolling fish. These fish usually stay in the bays for the next couple of months before heading out to the gulf to begin their spawning migration.

I have also been spotting some very large lemon and bull sharks in the same areas as the tarpon.  They are easy targets that provide long runs and powerful fights for my anglers.  I am looking forward to fishing for both the tarpon and sharks on upcoming trips.

As waters warmed up by the middle of last week, I started having great success using live sardines for snook and redfish.  Several trips enjoyed constant action releasing many snook ranging to 25 inches along with some nice redfish to 27 inches.  When we don’t have a snook or redfish on the line, the jack crevalle have been filling in the gaps with countless numbers of these aggressive fighters being boated.
Steve and Linda had an all out slay fest with big redfish, snook and large jack crevalle on 3/5/2015
Steve and Linda had an all out slay fest with big redfish, snook and large jack crevalle on 3/5/2015

The large sheepshead are still running in the area passes along with a few pompano and sea trout for those looking for a mess of good eating fish.  Pieces of shrimp fished on the bottom are taking loads of sheepshead to 4 lbs. while jigs tipped with shrimp fished in the outside channels with take pompano and trout.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

January Fishing in the Naples Backwaters

We have had some real solid days since my last report.  We have again fished in a myriad of conditions with some overcast days, a few chilly mornings and some very windy days. My anglers have caught a long list of different fish using everything from live bait to jigs to fly rods.

Late last week and earlier this week, I had some anglers experience a real blitz of pompano action in the outside passes near Marco Island.  One party caught nearly 40 of these scrappers in a couple of hours on an afternoon trip.  Most were released, but a few did make it back with us for dinner.  That action seemed to die down my mid-week as water temperatures climbed back into the 73 degree range.  All of the pompano were caught on jigs.
My "go to" pompano rig.  10 lb. test line, 25 lb. leader and a 3/8 oz. tube jig.
My “go to” pompano rig. 10 lb. test line, 25 lb. leader and a 3/8 oz. tube jig.

We also have been using shrimp along points with shell bottom to catch a few redfish, sheepshead and mangrove snapper.  An occasional goliath grouper has been taking the bait giving my fisherman a good battle under the mangrove bushes!  Live sardines are bringing a few snook and some larger redfish to the boat along with plenty of jack crevalle.  A bit of a headache has been the numbers of gulls and terns attacking the baits from the air.  Windy days seem to be the worst.
Cornie Morgan with a beautiful upper slot redfish caught on a blustery afternoon trip on 1/23/15.
Cornie Morgan with a beautiful upper slot redfish caught on a blustery afternoon trip on 1/23/15.

A couple of fly fishing trips this week brought a few snook, pompano and bluefish along with loads of jack crevalle and lady fish.  We are using small minnow patterns along the mangroves for the snook action and sinking flies and sink tip fly lines in the channels for the other species.

As I write this today, another cold front is coming through as they seem to each weekend.  Strong southerly winds yesterday have turned NW as the cooler air moves starting us on another cycle for next week.  I expect the fishing pattern to continue for the next several weeks with the cycle of different species all in the lineup!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Grand Slam Time in SW Florida!

Great fishing continued for my clients last week. Fishing morning trips daily, we continued to have success on large tarpon,  loads of snook and and ever growing number of redfish showing up.

The tarpon action has been strictly at first light.  Arriving to the fishing area in the dark, we have been having many shots at tarpon in the 80 to 150 lb. range.  As the fish begin feeding at first light, we have been casting to rolling and feeding fish with soft plastic swim baits such as DOA Baitbusters and the new Spooltek baits.  Live baits such as crabs, ladyfish and sardines also get their attention.  I am finding that we are actually having more bites on the lures as they give us the ability to make long casts directly to fish and cover a lot of water.  Most of the action is over by 8:00 or so in the morning.

Snook have been schooled up heavily near area passes with plenty of fish in the 20 to 25 inch class providing non-stop action.  There have been snook in the 30 inch + range in the mix as well.  Live sardines are the ticket to fast action, however we also had a successful morning with fly tackle using small white baitfish imitations.

Redfish are now common catches along the flooded mangrove edges and along shallow flats at low tide.  The reds have been nice mid-slot fish averaging 25 inches.  They have seemingly appeared out of nowhere, after being practically non exsistant for the last couple of months.  Live sardines, shrimp, jigs, spoons and topwater plugs will all catch the redfish this time of year.

Last Wednesday, I fished with repeat client Justin Harper who was in town from Texas for a business conference.  He had contacted me regarding catching a big tarpon which was a “bucket list” fish for him.  His timing was good and we headed out in the dark to get the best shots at catching the silver king.  Justin hooked into three large fish and after battling for over an hour, brought a big tarpon boat side.  We estimate the fish was around 130 lbs.

Exhausted and with some time left to fish, we decided to switch gears and pursue the opportunity to produce a “Grand Slam” which is releasing a tarpon, snook and redfish in the same day.  The snook and redfish cooperated, and within the next hour Justin’s slam was complete!  Here are some shots of Justin with his catches.  A great morning with another happy angler!
Releasing this 130 lb. tarpon was the first leg of Justin Harper's grand slam catch last week!
Releasing this 130 lb. tarpon was the first leg of Justin Harper’s grand slam catch last week!
One of several snook released by Justin.  #2 of the Grand Slam.
One of several snook released by Justin. #2 of the Grand Slam.
A nice redfish comes aboard to complete a SW Florida inshore slam!
A nice redfish comes aboard to complete a SW Florida inshore slam!

I am really looking forward to the next several weeks as September is one of my very favorite months to fish.  Redfishing should really pick up along with more great snook action.  Tarpon should remain in the area making this the best time of year for anglers to catch all three species.
- Capt. Todd Geroy

Friday, August 15, 2014

Big August Tarpon in Naples

Fishing has really picked up during the last couple of weeks in the Naples area. Some of the best tarpon action of the summer and multitudes of snook have been keeping us busy on recent trips. Redfish are starting to show in the area along with lots of mangrove snapper. Sharks have been easy targets also.

During the last week, I ran several early morning trips to get shots at sunrise tarpon off area beaches. The tarpon have been congregating just offshore amongst huge concentrations of bait fish. An early arrival each morning virtually guaranteed fast action with the silver kings. It has been important to be ready for the "magic hour". They fed heavily each morning as the sun rose to the east and the full moon set over the gulf. We have managed to hook tarpon on each trip with one morning getting 5 hookups in just a couple hours with two fish boated.

I have been having success on a variety of baits, including live crabs and ladyfish as well as DOA Baitbusters in a silver and black color.

A noteworthy catch was Tuesday morning when I guided Volker and Kristy Pennino along with their nephew Malek who is visiting all the way from Casablanca. On Kristy's bucket list was catching a big tarpon and within a couple minutes of her first cast with a crab, she was tight on the tarpon of a lifetime! The fish put on a great show with numerous jumps before taking us on a SW Florida sleigh ride towing us nearly two miles into the gulf. Kristy hung on and eventually the giant fish was brought boat side and released after a few photos were taken. I estimate that this fish was somewhere just shy of the 150 lbs. Here is Kristy along with her giant tarpon...
Click to Enlarge Photo
We then headed inside to try for some of the many snook that have been lining schooling up just inside the passes. The snook did not disappoint either as the three anglers released fish after fish using live sardines for bait.

Snook action has been fantastic throughout the last full moon phase. Fish have been stacking up on banks with good tide flow and deep water nearby. Water temperatures have been as high as 94 making them a bit lethargic, but a little live chumming gets them going. Most of the fish are in the 20 to 24 inch size, but a few larger fish have also made it to the boat.

Redfish are now starting to show in the area in better numbers. I had success with mid-slot fish with live pilchards along edges of shallow flats and bars on the morning falling tides the last few days. They should become the main focus here in the next few weeks

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mid-July Fishing Action in Naples Backwaters

I am finally catching up on my fishing report for July after taking some time off for family the first week of July and then having surgery a week ago for which I have a two week recovery time off the water.  I am really getting cabin fever, but know that I letting my body heal is critical.   My son, Capt. Ben has kept busy filling in for me, fishing daily and having some very good summer action.  With lots of snook, redfish, grouper and sharks all cooperating keeping rods bent and anglers smiling.

Snook have been very active since the full moon last week with some trips releasing as many as 35 in a half day.  On an evening trip earlier in the week a young angler released the snook of a lifetime, weighing in at over 20 lbs before release!
20 lb. snook released with Capt. Ben Geroy 7/15/14
20 lb. snook released with Capt. Ben Geroy 7/15/14


Shark fishing is reliable as always this time of year with bull, blacktip and lemon sharks cruising the shallow back bays looking for an easy meal.  The sharks are running from 4.5 foot scrappers to monsters ranging to 8 feet in length and 275 lbs.
 
There are plenty of big tarpon in the gulf just off the beaches.  They have been gathering in good numbers around dense concentrations of bait fish.  For success, it is critical to get out early in the dark and fish the “magic hour” before the sun gets above the tree line.  Late evening can also be productive, but afternoon thunder storms have put a damper on many an evening lately.  Before I was laid up, I hit the tarpon several mornings in a row hooking up on several each trip.  We were throwing DOA Baitbuster lures.  Other guides have been hooking up on the same as well as live crabs, ladyfish, thread herring and live mullet.

I will be back on the water by the middle of next week and hope to have more to report by the weekend.  Check back in to find out what’s biting

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Summer Snook Action in Naples, FL

June 12, 2014
I have been on a bit of a writing hiatus for the last month, with no excuse other than a busy fishing schedule and some relatively slow fishing for this time of year.  While we have had to work really hard for the fish so far this summer, our efforts have produced some great catches with a few tarpon and some big snook coming to the boat.

This is peak tarpon season here and there are some big fish in the area.  For some reason, this year I have only had a few anglers wishing to dedicate their trips to fishing the silver kings with most anglers opting for action fishing for other species. We have jumped a few tarpon and also boated a few.  Most of the larger fish are now congregating off area beaches near the numerous schools of small bait fish.  The best time to target them has been at first light and near sunset.

Snook fishing has been our main focus and my anglers have been having success with some large fish running up to 29 inches.  Live baits (scaled sardines) are taking the largest fish but we have also had success on the smaller snook with flies and a variety of plugs and soft plastic baits.  Incoming tides have been most productive.  I have been targeting most of the snook near the passes or just inside where they are staging for spawning this time of year.

On Tuesday of this week, I had and angler hook up with a large snook against the mangroves on a very high tide.  The fish put up maximum resistance against Neil making several long runs into the cover before becoming completely entangled.  Determined not to lose this prize, I slipped into the water and waded into the entanglement of roots.  I managed to get hold of the fish and return to the boat to celebrate the great catch before releasing the 15 lber back to the water.
  My guests snapped a photo of a determined guide!
Capt. Todd returns to the boat after retrieving a 15 lb. snook from deep in the mangrove cover.
Capt. Todd returns to the boat after retrieving a 15 lb. snook from deep in the mangrove cover.
Neil Henges proudly shows off his 15 lb. snook before release on 6/10/14
Neil Henges proudly shows off his 15 lb. snook before release on 6/10/14

Wednesday I fished with Jim Cober of Dallas who has been a client for over 20 years.  He brought his 14 year old grandson, Tucker along for his first experience fishing in saltwater.  We had to work hard, as we found numerous lazy snook slapping at the baits and not connecting and only seeming to be able to boat one fish per stop.  At the fourth stop, Tucker’s first cast was quickly consumed by a giant snook!  The fish made a long run down the shoreline and tried desperately to get into the cover, but Tucker was able to maneuver the fish and boat it after a long battle.  The fish was released after a quick photo to remember a great catch!
Tucker with a 39 inch snook released 6/11/2014 with Capt. Todd Geroy
Tucker with a 39 inch snook released 6/11/2014 with Capt. Todd Geroy

Snook and tarpon will remain the main targets for the rest of June.  Baby tarpon action should heat up once the summer rainy pattern settles in and runoff pushes these fish out of the back country creeks into the bays.  Redfishing has been spotty, but they are large fish in the 26 to 30 inch range when we find them.
-Capt. Todd Geroy

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April Fishing Action Getting Better

After running a full schedule for the last few weeks, I am taking a day off as another strong frontal system barrels its way down the coast of Florida.  Windy conditions and the threat of heavy thunderstorms mid-day forced our decision to stay on land today.  These fronts have been disrupting our activity on a weekly basis, as we keep assuring ourselves that this is the last one of the season.

When the weather has been stable, my anglers have been getting a taste of some great spring fishing as snook and redfish action continues to improve.  I might add that with spring break in full swing, I have enjoyed many great trips with young anglers cathcing some nice fish!

Many trips have been scoring on multiple redfish to 30 inches along with plenty of slot size fish.  I have encountered more schooling fish during the last week with double hookups common.  Live sardines have been getting the bites, however it is interesting to note that several of the fish I have filleted have been engorged with crabs.  NCM_0058NCM_0061
The snook bite has really improved with warmer water temperatures now approaching 80°.  The snook are scattered all over the backcountry with most of the action being along mangrove points that are either facing the wind or tide or both.  Again the live pilchards are candy to these fish, although we have had success with  Mirrolure plugs with green backs also.
Young angler Nick Seitz and dad, Mike with a nice double on snook during a recent April trip.
Young angler Nick Seitz and dad, Mike with a nice double on snook during a recent April trip.

Springtime brings big jack crevalle to the backwater channels.  I have been having great success with jacks ranging to 18 lbs. recently.  These bruisers will eat anything that moves and put on a great battle on light tackle!
Mike helps Nick with a giant jack crevalle!
Mike helps Nick with a giant jack crevalle!

There are plenty of big sharks in now as well as a good number if tarpon for those that want the tug of a lifetime.  My recent outings have been opting for action fishing, but I do look forward to tangling with some giants in the next week or two.