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Estero Bay and Red Tide

Hi all, this is my first time posting here but I've been lurking for several years. Don't fish in Florida much since I live in Chicago. Anyway the last 2 years I've been kayak fishing Estero Bay in early March. Did horrible the first year, managed just one barely legal flounder and one sheepshead. Did a lot better last year, having discovered where they weren't the first time around lol. Caught a bunch of redfish, all in the slot except for 1 rat and 1 32" bull that kept trying to pull me into the boat channel but I finally got him in the net. Even found a honey hole for speckled trout. Had 2 days of great snook action, albeit small 22"-24" but a lot of fun. That ended  when the wind shifted to the northeast and the snook disappeared to points unknown. 

Anyway I'm going again this year but I have no idea what to expect after all the horrible red tide. Has it affected the fishing in Estero Bay much? Should I not even bother and head south towards 10,000 islands instead? I'd rather not since I'm staying in Fort Myers Beach, but I also want to catch some fish! So is Estero Bay still a viable option?

Replies

  • BasstarBasstar Posts: 519 Officer
    Drifting By, your post brought back some great memories as I myself was there when you were last year and I remember those 40's degree mornings with that brutal NE wind.  I wade fish barefoot in shorts and it was all I could do to stand it until the sun came up and in fact it was warmer standing in the water than on shore.  But to now.

    I haven't been there yet but a couple of friends are and thus far for them fishing has been horrible.  Whether that's Red Tide induced or weather of course I'm not certain.

    Good luck with your decision and I'm interested as well to hear what any of the local anglers are finding.
  • dodger31dodger31 Ft MyersPosts: 228 Deckhand
    I found Estero Bay to be very hit and miss this Fall so I have been kind of avoiding it lately.  Fish size seemed to be much smaller too! 
    When Red Tide was really bad (August) I made a couple of trips out of Goodland and fished within 3 miles of the Calusa Island Launch.  Had great fishing including one day that we caught 12 species of fish and a couple for the table.  I would head south but can't give you much info on the fishing in Estero lately.  Good luck!
  • hellsgatehellsgate NaplesPosts: 49 Greenhorn
    Drift.     Not sure about Estero but no red tide south of Marco. Consider the kayak launch at the ranger station in EC
  • Drifting_ByDrifting_By ChicagoPosts: 134 Deckhand
    Basstar said:
    Drifting By, your post brought back some great memories as I myself was there when you were last year and I remember those 40's degree mornings with that brutal NE wind.  I wade fish barefoot in shorts and it was all I could do to stand it until the sun came up and in fact it was warmer standing in the water than on shore.  But to now.

    I haven't been there yet but a couple of friends are and thus far for them fishing has been horrible.  Whether that's Red Tide induced or weather of course I'm not certain.

    Good luck with your decision and I'm interested as well to hear what any of the local anglers are finding.
    Yes there were some cold mornings in the 40s last year! That sun couldn't come up fast enough... the 2 days when normal temps returned was when I caught snook. I had no luck with anything when that wind changed to the NE, until I made the paddle across the bay through whitecaps. Then I was out of the wind and the water was much cleaner. Hopefully better weather this year.
  • Drifting_ByDrifting_By ChicagoPosts: 134 Deckhand
    dodger31 said:
    I found Estero Bay to be very hit and miss this Fall so I have been kind of avoiding it lately.  Fish size seemed to be much smaller too! 
    When Red Tide was really bad (August) I made a couple of trips out of Goodland and fished within 3 miles of the Calusa Island Launch.  Had great fishing including one day that we caught 12 species of fish and a couple for the table.  I would head south but can't give you much info on the fishing in Estero lately.  Good luck!
    That's what I feared... but it looks like Goodland is an hour away from FMB so that's doable, hell it takes me almost that long to get to work most days. Looking on Google street view the Goodland Island Marina has a $15 fee to use the boat ramp, is that the same price for kayaks? Otherwise it looks like there's a free kayak launch on San Marco Rd. just across the bridge and it looks very fishy around there, lots of grass flats. This looks like a great area for reds and maybe snook. Thanks for the reply!
  • Drifting_ByDrifting_By ChicagoPosts: 134 Deckhand
    hellsgate said:
    Drift.     Not sure about Estero but no red tide south of Marco. Consider the kayak launch at the ranger station in EC
    I wanted to go fishing in that area last year but never found the time. Besides the kayak launch in EC do you know about the kayak launch at the Smallwood store on Chokoloskee? If so do they charge a fee? Looks like easy access to a lot of fishy places from there. 
  • hellsgatehellsgate NaplesPosts: 49 Greenhorn
    hellsgate said:
    Drift.     Not sure about Estero but no red tide south of Marco. Consider the kayak launch at the ranger station in EC
    I wanted to go fishing in that area last year but never found the time. Besides the kayak launch in EC do you know about the kayak launch at the Smallwood store on Chokoloskee? If so do they charge a fee? Looks like easy access to a lot of fishy places from there. 
    Never launched from Smallwood.  Would be shocked if there was a fee. At EC I like to launch 3 hours before low tide. Swept out then swept in. Goodland yes use kayak launch at the bridge     
    I like to hit that one 90 minutes before high tide and get swept further in
  • dodger31dodger31 Ft MyersPosts: 228 Deckhand
    Sounds like a plan to put in at the bridge.  The best fishing we had was around the Dismal Key area.  Quite a paddle but the whole area looks fishy to me!  Can't wait to explore it more.  By the way, I grew up in Libertyville and spent 3 awesome years living around Clark and Wrightwood after college.  Been down here 5 years now!  Good luck with your trip!
  • 1outlaw1outlaw Naples FLPosts: 1,210 Officer
    The spot before the bridge always has several Kayakers. I would probably start there. 
    Jason :USA
  • Drifting_ByDrifting_By ChicagoPosts: 134 Deckhand
    dodger31 said:
    Sounds like a plan to put in at the bridge.  The best fishing we had was around the Dismal Key area.  Quite a paddle but the whole area looks fishy to me!  Can't wait to explore it more.  By the way, I grew up in Libertyville and spent 3 awesome years living around Clark and Wrightwood after college.  Been down here 5 years now!  Good luck with your trip!
    I lived for 10 years at Wrightwood and Southport, then in 2004 bought a 2-flat in Albany Park  where I've been ever since. You were smart to get out of Illinois, as if the corruption isn't bad enough today woke up to 24 below zero temps. If I move the kayak in the garage now it might shatter into pieces lol.

    Dismal Key does look great but an 8 mile paddle is way too far! I'll see if i can find some redfish or snook along the mangroves and flats in the bay. If that fails maybe try to find some trout under the bridge, there should at least be sheepshead there I'd think.

  • backyardhockeybackyardhockey Posts: 145 Deckhand
    dodger31 said:
    Sounds like a plan to put in at the bridge.  The best fishing we had was around the Dismal Key area.  Quite a paddle but the whole area looks fishy to me!  Can't wait to explore it more.  By the way, I grew up in Libertyville and spent 3 awesome years living around Clark and Wrightwood after college.  Been down here 5 years now!  Good luck with your trip!
    I lived for 10 years at Wrightwood and Southport, then in 2004 bought a 2-flat in Albany Park  where I've been ever since. You were smart to get out of Illinois, as if the corruption isn't bad enough today woke up to 24 below zero temps. If I move the kayak in the garage now it might shatter into pieces lol.

    Dismal Key does look great but an 8 mile paddle is way too far! I'll see if i can find some redfish or snook along the mangroves and flats in the bay. If that fails maybe try to find some trout under the bridge, there should at least be sheepshead there I'd think.

    Either of you guys there when Club 950 was around?  Wrightwood under the L. 
  • dodger31dodger31 Ft MyersPosts: 228 Deckhand
    Drifting:  Wow!  I didn't realize Dismal was that far!  You will find fish around the area no problem.

    Backyard:  Don't remember Club 950.  Burwood Tap was my hang out.  Schubas for live music! 
  • Drifting_ByDrifting_By ChicagoPosts: 134 Deckhand
    Either of you guys there when Club 950 was around?  Wrightwood under the L. 
    I remember that place, didn't go there much though. I lived right across the street from the Pour House, so I went there a lot, and the Bird's Nest. Rose Angelis was my favorite restaurant, always a wait for a table there but you could wait across the street at the Blue Parrot and they'd call when a table was ready (this was before cell phones were in wide use). Schuba's and the late great Lounge Ax for live music. The Southport City Saloon was 2 doors down, I would be lulled to sleep at night from the bottles breaking in the alley when they tossed their garbage in the dumpster. When I moved I would had trouble sleeping because it's too quiet here!
  • Drifting_ByDrifting_By ChicagoPosts: 134 Deckhand
    dodger31 said:
    Drifting:  Wow!  I didn't realize Dismal was that far!  You will find fish around the area no problem.

    Backyard:  Don't remember Club 950.  Burwood Tap was my hang out.  Schubas for live music! 
    Were you there in 2003 when that porch collapsed at 713 Wrightwood? Burwood Tap patrons were some of the first responders that horrible night... 13 dead and 57 seriously injured. I was out of town in Wisconsin that night for a concert.
  • dodger31dodger31 Ft MyersPosts: 228 Deckhand
    I remember hearing about that but I moved out of Chicago in '99.  Lived in the Eagle River, WI area until 2014.
  • 1outlaw1outlaw Naples FLPosts: 1,210 Officer
    edited January 2019 #17
    Edit.... Due to not being a member it wont let me share.
    Jason :USA
  • BasstarBasstar Posts: 519 Officer
    Basstar said:
    Drifting By, your post brought back some great memories as I myself was there when you were last year and I remember those 40's degree mornings with that brutal NE wind.  I wade fish barefoot in shorts and it was all I could do to stand it until the sun came up and in fact it was warmer standing in the water than on shore.  But to now.

    I haven't been there yet but a couple of friends are and thus far for them fishing has been horrible.  Whether that's Red Tide induced or weather of course I'm not certain.

    Good luck with your decision and I'm interested as well to hear what any of the local anglers are finding.
    Yes there were some cold mornings in the 40s last year! That sun couldn't come up fast enough... the 2 days when normal temps returned was when I caught snook. I had no luck with anything when that wind changed to the NE, until I made the paddle across the bay through whitecaps. Then I was out of the wind and the water was much cleaner. Hopefully better weather this year.
    DB, I did find one technique in the wind.  I used a 1 ounce white with red Got-Cha plug and made long casts to the clear water line and managed to catch trout and ladyfish.  When they bit they hit that lure like a train. 
  • JW_YakAnglerJW_YakAngler NaplesPosts: 203 Deckhand
    Smallwood store does charge, $10 last time I checked, and per person, not per vehicle. EC ranger station is my preference. Free, and 1 mile from endless oyster bars and flats. From there I have also paddled out to Jewel and back on day trips covering 10-11 miles with detours, or to Ferguson River which ends up being 9 miles with detours. My most productive trips have been on the oyster bars across the bay just 1 mile from the launch though. Big reds will be on those flats on PM low tides to warm up after cool mornings and will bite just as the tide starts to come in. 
    My YouTube channel: JakeW YakAngler
  • Drifting_ByDrifting_By ChicagoPosts: 134 Deckhand
    Fished Estero Bay today because by the time I was checked in and able to go fishing it was 3  PM and too late to go anywhere else. Went to a spot that was good for trout last year and nothing doing, lots of bites but no hookups on a gulp shrimp under a popping cork, possibly lady fish. Moved to a different spot and soon hooked up with what felt like a nice redfish. It made some strong runs and when I finally got it next to the kayak.... it was sailcat. Biggest sailcat I've seen (which isn't many) probably a good 20-22". Slimed the living hell out of my line and net... I didn't know they did that lol. Carefully unhooked and released. Caught a hardhead after that, then the sun was going down so I called it a day. Tomorrow going to Goodland area. 
  • Westwall01Westwall01 Posts: 5,453 Admiral
    Trout population took a huge hit this past year
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