Skinny Water Opportunities

by Capt. Brent Bensmiller

Kayak fishing has been great with the warmer temperatures this fall. We’ve had countless mornings with beautiful weather and low humidity, making for some great paddling. With this warmer than usual weather continuing, we expect some great fishing to carry on into the winter months. Lately we’ve been catching a mixed bag of species along the beaches and throughout the bay. There’s been a steady stream of nice sized pilchards up and down the shoreline. Getting hooked up has been as easy as throwing the cast net once and blacking out the livewell, then a quick cast and bam…fish on!

I’ve had plenty of people asking if the red tide has cleared up and if it’s affected fishing. Unfortunately, we did lose a great number of fish throughout early fall, but by around the beginning of October we started seeing the waters come back to life. Mullet came back in huge numbers and so did the smaller bait fish. Reds, snook, and mangrove snapper returned making their presence known throughout the inlets and bay. Sheepshead can be caught in the same areas and we have seen some pushing 20″ lately, so make sure to bring a dozen live shrimp with you. Big jacks have been schooling up, running through the inlets and destroying everything in their path. You will know when there is a school nearby as the water will look like its boiling when they attack schools of glass minnows and sardines. The chaos will get any fisherman’s heart pumping so don’t overlook catching one of these canal tunas as they fight harder than any species inshore, pound for pound!

During December focus on fishing docks in the inlets and get back in the skinny water with your kayak when we have lower tides. The beauty of kayak fishing is being able to sneak into spots that boats can’t, fishing for fish that don’t see a lure go by them every day. Look around in the back bay for tailing redfish and snook scavenging the shallows for shrimp and mullet. It’s a good idea to take a push pole to sneak up on some of the bigger warier fish. Take advantage of the cooler temperatures and ability to stay out and fish longer and you will have plenty of great stories to tell your friends. See you on the water!

Brent Bensmiller, the owner of Paddle Naples, is an expert at kayak fishing the local waters. He is available for kayak fishing charters and lessons, as well as guided kayak and paddleboard tours. You can reach Brent by email at or by phone at 239-301-8888. Check out www.PaddleNaples.
com and our FB page: for more information.