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Water Temp observation in Ft Myers

I'm from Michigan and new to this area but will be here until sometime in March.  I've been fishing in the inshore and offshore since 1/5 but noticed in the last week after the big storm the water temp went from 75 to 65 overnight.  When it was 75 deg we could get lots of bait around the bridges but now with the colder water they are gone.  We were also getting bigger fish around the bridges and offshore using greenbacks for bait but haven't had much luck lately.  Will the water warm back up with a good south wind or does the temp stay in this range until spring?  Is this the winter water temp and I just need to learn where to find the fish?  My wife and I fish just about every other day and since the storm came through it's been a struggle to find anything for dinner.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.  We can go inshore just about anywhere and we've been offshore up to 15 miles on a calm day.  Thanks,


  • bigfinn35bigfinn35 Sarasota/VenicePosts: 1,064 Officer
    baitfish do mostly disappear inshore when temps drop during the winter. Good news about that is that it makes shrimp and artificials much more effective during winter, since that's what's more abundant for predatory fish to eat. If you're looking for dinner, fishing live shrimp or small crabs near any barnacle-encrusted structure (bridges, docks, etc) on a #1 hook and 15-20 lb leader, with enough weight to get to bottom, is a good bet for sheepshead and some mangrove snapper bycatch (lots of shorts but some legal fish mixed in). Offshore, you can get more snapper and mackerel over any of the nearshore reefs on shrimp. Anchor, chum heavily, and drift shrimp through your chum slick on 1/8 oz jigheads (heavier is the current is heavy) on a long (6-8 ft) 20 lb fluorocarbon leader. Winter is a great time to fish here, but you have to adjust tactics a bit.
    Paddle faster, I hear banjo music.
  • JteunisJteunis Fort MyersPosts: 4 Greenhorn
    edited January 24 #3
    Thanks Bigfinn35, I'll definitely give those tactics a try next time I head out.  This is my first year hear so I'm sure it's going to take a while to figure the fish out but that's what makes it fun.
  • bigfinn35bigfinn35 Sarasota/VenicePosts: 1,064 Officer
    Some types are easier than others. Bottom fishing is about as simple as it gets if you're in the right area. One thing to add: for the jighead reef fishing thing, feel free to use other baits too like small pinfish or sardine chunks. And when I say to drift the baits through your chum slick, I mean to have the reel in freespool (or bail open for spinning tackle) and feed the line out slowly til you feel a bite or see line going out faster. 

    Inshore, keep in mind that slow = good when it comes to using bait or lures in cold water. Work the bottom slowly on whatever spot you're fishing and you're likely to do better than if you fish more aggressively in the high parts of the water column.
    Paddle faster, I hear banjo music.
  • JteunisJteunis Fort MyersPosts: 4 Greenhorn
    Thank you. I'll be sure to try some of your suggestions on Thursday and let you know how they work.  
  • JteunisJteunis Fort MyersPosts: 4 Greenhorn
    Thursday I fished inshore for sheepshead and caught about 30 of them but only one keeper. I found a drop shot rig with a chunk of shrimp really helped me feel the bite. Your suggestion of working it slow really helped.  

     Bait showed up again at the bridge and hope they stay for a while.  

  • bigfinn35bigfinn35 Sarasota/VenicePosts: 1,064 Officer
    Glad it worked out for ya! All about adapting to the conditions, especially during winter
    Paddle faster, I hear banjo music.
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