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Employment History


Saltwater Pro Shop


Saltwater Pro Shop

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While the Mississippi and Louisiana Gulf ... [cached]

While the Mississippi and Louisiana Gulf coasts were being pummeled by Hurricane Gustov Monday, local anglers took advantage of the first day of snook season, which officially opened Sept. 1, and reports are optimistic about keepers, according to Steve Hess, owner and operator of Saltwater Pro Shop on San Carlos Island.

Those anglers with an up-to-date fishing license and snook stamp are allowed one snook per day no shorter than 28 inches and no longer than 33 inches, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife regulations.
"They're getting them by free-lining pinfish and live shrimp on a light tide and letting them drift along pilings, docks, bridges or anything like that," Hess said."They're plentiful in the passes in the morning and at night."
Hess recommends 30 lb. line with a 40 lb. fluorocarbon leader.
If snook aren't you're thing, Hess said, redfish are also very plentiful locally.
"There are keepers everywhere," he said, adding that he fished with a local fishing guide last week and landed seven keepers."You can only keep one but I caught nine red fish - seven keepers - one under and one over.I was free lining shrimp with an ultra light rod with 20-pound fluorocarbon leader over the oyster beds.The largest red caught there was 28 inches."
Hess said red fish are also biting cut baits, "and several reds have been caught on pin fish, but I think the most effective way was the shrimp."
Snapper fishing continues to be productive, especially along the pilings near the cat walk under the Matanzas Pass Bridge, Hess said.
Hess said the baits of choice for snapper is shrimp and cut bait.
"There's a lot of them," he said."You're going to want to use some weight and get the bait to the bottom.Maybe a one-once weight and you gotta use a light (20-pound) fluorocarbon leader.Try dropping it along the pilings - casting it along the pilings and there's some nice keepers everywhere along there."
Trout continue to make a come back, Hess said, and are especially plentiful in the Bowditch grass flats and off Mile Marker 1 in the grass flats.
Hess said tarpon are still in the passes and he caught one Friday night on live shrimp.
"On the light tides, I've been just free lining the shrimp," he said, adding that he is optimistic about the upcoming week."I'm going to be getting some good snook reports."
Steve Hess is the owner of Saltwater Pro Shop at 10051 San Carlos Blvd. in the Beach Plaza Shopping Center.

After nearly a week of torrential ... [cached]

After nearly a week of torrential rains from Tropical Storm Fay disrupted area fishing, anglers are back in local waters and faring well, according to Steve Hess, owner and operator of Saltwater Pro Shop on San Carlos Island.

And with the storm, trout have re-emerged, Hess said.
"Off mile marker one on the north end of Estero Island, they have been killing trout," he said."They've been getting them off popping corks with live shrimp.They've been getting them pretty good.Some guys come in for 50 shrimp in the morning and then back for 50 in the afternoon and are going out everyday."
Hess says snook are still a good bet off the catwalk under the north end of the Matanzas Pass Bridge.
"They're pitching pin fish on an outgoing tide and getting some big snook," he said."They're floating them right in the main thoroughfare.
Anglers are having good luck with many varieties of grouper, Hess said.
"They're sinking shrimp under the Sky Bridge with a 2 oz. sinker right along the pylons," he said."They've been getting some gags there and some real big goliath have been caught.There are a lot of little red grouper all over the place but no size.
Hess added there have been a couple of keeper gag grouper caught off the Matanzas catwalk.
Redfish are also plentiful in area waters, Hess said.
"There's a lot of redfish still being caught all over mid Estero Island down to Lovers Key they've been killing them on shrimp for the most part but you can get them on cut bait," he said."Shrimp has been the predominate bait.You can free line them or use a weight to catch them, but every morning someone is catching redfish."
Two large tarpon were landed last week, one at the Matanzas Pass Bridge and one at Hurricane Pass Bridge," Hess said.
"That's still night fishing or early morning fishing using pin fish," he said.
Black drum in large quantities have also emerged in local waters, Hess said.
"I have seen large schools of black drum and they will eat anything with a shell," he said, "any kind of shrimp or sand flea or whatever, they'll pick that up and hold on - they're pretty strong fish.I've seen them everywhere lately."
On Monday morning, Hess said he spotted a large school of jacks off Hurricane Pass bridge.
"There were probably 300 to 400 jacks," he said."I've never seen a school of jacks like this in my life.They weren't feeding - they were waiting any school of anything to come through."
Hess said now that Tropical Storm Fay has passed and waters are beginning to clear up, he is excited to see how productive fishing will be in local waters.
"I'm interested in seeing what this storm has done once people really start fishing hard again," he said."I've actually been hearing about trout in little canals off the island so I don't know if some of the fish moved to the small canals, but it could be pretty cool.I'll know more by the end of this weekend to find out if the storm actually brought fish in."
Steve Hess is the owner of Saltwater Pro Shop at 10051 San Carlos Blvd. in the Beach Plaza Shopping Center.

As teams get ready to this ... [cached]

As teams get ready to this week's Are You Man Enough Shark Tournament scheduled for Saturday, other anglers continue to have good luck with snook, snapper and redfish in local waters, according to Steve Hess, owner and operator of Saltwater Pro Shop on San Carlos Island.

"Snook, both morning and night, have been just stacked up along any kind of structure, whether it be docks or bridges," Hess said."Anywhere with a light is fantastic.They'll sit in the shadows and wait for the prey to come to them.The best way to catch them right now is just float a pinfish or a shrimp by either casting the bait to them or casting out and letting the bait float to them.They're everywhere right now."
Hess added that he has seen some very large snook caught at the Hurricane Pass Bridge on San Carlos Island.
"I claim that bridge - its Saltwater Pro's property right now," he quipped.
Snapper continue to do well around pilings that are furthest from the shore, Hess said.
"They're at the same spot on every dock," he said, adding that live shrimp are working best right now.
Grouper, especially red grouper, are plentiful but only a few keepers have been caught, Hess said.
"You can find them in any type of stone structure or any kind of holes but there's still not a lot of size to them - I'm hearing maybe two keepers a week," he said.
"Redfish are being caught in good size on the incoming tide in the Back Bay from south to mid-Estero Island on live shrimp," Hess said."As things are starting to fill they've been popping reds.They've been killing the live shrimp lately.You can do good on any type of sand bar on incoming tide because they're going to be stacked up on bait fish and they're still in the 15 to 20 inch slot."
Hess said he is sponsoring three teams for this weekend's Are You Man Enough Shark Tournament and will be competing himself aboard Filet and Release.
A captains' meeting will be held at 10 a.m.; fishing begins at 1:30 p.m. and weigh in for the tournament will held be at the Channel Mark Restaurant on San Carlos Island at 10 p.m. So far 30 teams have registered to compete in the tournament, Hess said.
"If someone is looking to go get a cocktail and see some sharks being brought in, that would probably be an interesting night," he said.
Tournament anglers should have good success Saturday because sharks are plentiful, Hess said.
"They're there - there's things for them to eat - they ain't going nowhere yet," he said.
Hess said anglers aren't restricted to where they can fish but he believes most will head to the Boca Grande area.As to where Hess will be fishing for the largest shark, he's not talking.
All sharks caught in the tournament will be donated to a homeless shelter, Hess added.
Steve Hess is the owner of Saltwater Pro Shop at 10051 San Carlos Blvd. in the Beach Plaza Shopping Center.

Local anglers report that snapper fishing ... [cached]

Local anglers report that snapper fishing has picked up on San Carlos and Estero Islands, said Steve Hess, owner and operator of Saltwater Pro Shop on San Carlos Island.

"Any type of structure or rock is going to produce snapper right now," he said."You want to use a low weight, something like a 1.0 hook and shrimp or small pinfish are working very good for the 12- to 14-inch range in this area and there's been some real good success with 18- or 19-inch hogs up on Captiva Island."
Spanish mackerel are still in the area and some keepers are now being caught, Hess said.
"There have been some large ones caught on mostly quarter-ounce silver spoons - there's not a lot of action on the golds," he said, adding that Spanish mackerel are being caught off of the Fort Myers Beach Pier and along the beaches.
"All gulfside right now, mackerel are being caught sporadically," he said.
Snook fishing is still productive, especially at night in lighted areas, Hess said.
"They have been caught in the early morning and during night time," he said.
Grouper fishing is still going strong, Hess said.
"There have been some keepers in the area caught in any type of holes in the boat canals," he said."Pinfish will work right away or any kind of cut bait like Spanish mackerel, Boston mackerel or sardines should work - anything like that they're going to hit right now."
Red grouper are emerging, Hess said, but so far they have been small.
"It's been a long time since they've been around," he said."Some of the locals believe that has to do with the freshwater releases in Okeechobee.Any time you get new sea life it's a good sign."
Redfish are still being caught in the 15- to-20 inch range, Hess said.
"There has been some luck anywhere from mid island all the way to where the point goes to Matanzas Pass - they're getting some nice reds," he said, adding that currently, redfish have been biting shrimp or cut ladyfish.
For those anglers who want to hook up, tarpon are still in the pass under the Sky Bridge at night, Hess said.
"You can see them every night at the cat walk under the bridge on the San Carlos Island side," he said.
Hess said he hasn't had much luck with tarpon lately, so he plans to try a new technique - a 3-foot fluorocarbon leader and a popper cork with either live shrimp or live pinfish with minimal weight.
"I'm going to try that method next time I fish," he said."You can sit up there and watch them come through the pass - they're very visible."
Hess says that though this last month's fishing wasn't as productive as previous months, fish are there to be caught.
"You can find fish - they're out there," he said.

Steve Hess, owner of ... [cached]

Steve Hess, owner of Saltwater Pro Shop on San Carlos Island, didn't fare as well as the Tuckers in the tournament.

"It was a rough afternoon and my back is still letting me know that," Hess said, referring to rough seas."Our boat brought in nothing.We had one hook up but he must have swallowed the leader and got to the mono."
Hess said he wasn't making excuses for not landing a shark, but weather did make a difference to some anglers.
"You're out there in an 18-foot boat with three and a half chop, that's going to keep you a little closer to shore," Hess said, adding that the high seas also hampered setting up chum slicks."It's going to take your slick and pull it all over the place where in calmer water you can keep your bait in the slick line.I think we had a lot of trouble with that."
Hess said he wasn't dissuaded with Saturday's results.
"It's a good learning experience for next year," he said.

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