Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 18, 2015 – December 24, 2015

CONDITIONS:

Unusual weather conditions continue to prevail. Here we are in the middle of December with a water temperature hovering between 73 and 75. Unprecedented to say the least. Fish are puzzled as to where they belong……..more on that when we get into the fishing sectors following. This week we will have a rough front come early weekend that will rough up the waters with lots of wind and some downward movement of air temperatures. Then it eases off mid-week until the rough weather resurges over Christmas. The tidal strength eases off thankfully with the afternoon incoming a bit stronger than the AM mild outgoing. Water clarity will take a beating from the windy conditions with the outgoing more churned up than the incoming.

BACKWATER:

The weather conditions have the fishing in the backwaters confused. Various species are unsettled with the unusual water warmth. Right now the bigger sheepshead should be moving inshore as water temps dip……..but they are holding offshore. Seatrout should be super active but, although they show an uptick in activity, they are nowhere near normal winter activity levels. Best action is on the warm water favorite mangrove snapper. They are feeding best as the fast tides ease on either side of slack along most mangrove edges taking a small shrimp worked slowly across the bottom. Pompano are also a primary target fish now and showing in both Capri and Hurricane Passes on either end of clear water tides. Work the pomps on a drift with small tipped jigs bounced along the bottom. There is lots of sheepshead activity on backwater spots but almost all are juvenile size that just help empty your bait bucket. Best to wait till almost slack water and work tight to bottom structure……if there is a rogue keeper that’s where and when you’ll find them.

NEARSHORE:

The repeated surges of wind strength this week may make the Gulf sea conditions a bit uncomfortable this week. The inshore reefs in depths of 25-35′ are temporary havens for sheepshead avoiding the backwater heat. Good chance spots like the Five Mile Reef complex and the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass will provide a good sheepshead bite with a fair to good chance at some take homes. Work the fish with just a tad of shrimp or cut crab on a soft lift technique tight to the bottom structure. On those same spots you may also see mangrove snapper still on their feed as well as some flounder and a triggerfish or two. All of those species as delights on the dinner table and well worth the effort. Those major reef spots holding lots of white bait can also be havens for the southbound migrating pelagics. You’ll want to keep a blue runner or a jack crevelle in the water on wire leader, especially if you’re using chum. You might light into a cobia or a kingfish hungry and heading south._

OFFSHORE:

Again, conditions permitting. Best action possibility here remains targeting red grouper in state waters defined as from 0-9 miles offshore (Harvest for red grouper closed in federal waters now).  Red grouper action has been good to excellent and sustained at that level most of this year. You’ll need some live pinfish for bait and major tackle to work the hard bottom areas due west of Capri Pass on a drift. Get the pinfish tight to the bottom outcroppings on stout tackle with drag down tight. With pelagic migration south underway also presents an opportunity to tackle some big cobia / kingfish feeding on deeper wrecks. There you will need larger live bait (blue runners / jacks ) worked under chum.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 11, 2015 – December 17, 2015

CONDITIONS:

Finally, we have a week where things are easing back to normal, if you can call mid afternoon air temperatures of eighty degrees in mid December normal. The better normals are an absence of thunderstorms; a lessening of ripping winds and a return to average strength tides. So, hopefully, this week will be the “start of something big”.  Look for the winds to lie down to at least a customary 8-12 knots and blow primarily from the east / northeast. That will be the primary factor in keeping the water clean…….at least the incoming. The outgoing could could still get tossed around and picking up some brown haze. The easing of storm conditions will also aid in cleaning the the water crucial to the early winter bite and last but not least the slower tides will enhance the catch probabilities with less raging tidal flow. So, let’s see how it goes; this coming week will be a clue as to how our important mid-winter fishing is going to work out.

BACKWATER:

Backwater species have two activity triggers …….first is cycle of the year and the second is water temperature. For example, nature is telling the bigger sheepshead spawners that this is winter and get ready to have at it and the water temperature trigger is telling them “whoa” the water temperatures are too warm so hold on. That happens for every species. And as we turn the corner into the winter solstice the fall of the water temperatures will be the key. This past week we have begun to see some winter species peek their noses out. You see nice speckled trout showing in the sea grass bottom shallow spots like West Johnson Bay edges; Addison Bay by the eastern most navigation marker and the Rookery Bay /Henderson Creek flats. Action is there using a shrimp under a popper on a shallow water drift. The whiting and seatrout are also beginning to show along the deeper holes on the ICW heading to Naples using a tipped jig to the bottom. These are two frequently overlooked species……great table fare with no regulatory size limit or bag limit. Add to the list….black drum……spawning sheepshead….flounder……to add to the continuing action on mackerel, pompano and snapper. And all that will happen when the water continues to chill down

NEARSHORE: 

The benefit out here on the condition change to winter hopefully will periods of reasonable east winds to keep the sea from engulfing your fishing expedition. With flat seas you’ll see the white bait explosions above the mackerel bite more clearly (and the same for the telltale diving birds). You can work those eruptions working tipped top water jigs right to the perimeter of the action pools on a fast retrieve. Could also see bluefish, jacks and little tunny in the mix working the white bait on either tide. The weather north of us in the Florida Panhandle is obviously cooler than SW Florida so the pelagics summering there are in process of heading back to the Keys…….they go through our nearshore and offshore waters and are feeding. Good chance at spots like the Five Mile Reef and the CAPRI Barges to capture one of these delectable creatures. A pinfish on stout leader and circle hook worked under chum could well do it this time of year. Average size of a cobia now would be between 20-30# and a memorable fight.

OFFSHORE:

Ditto out here deep on the benefit of light winds and flat seas. Grouper has been the go-to-fish out here all year and it will continue into the winter season but only in state waters defined as 0-9 miles off the nearest point of the mainland. The Feds closed their deep water portion a couple months back. But, no sweat,…….work the range of 7-9 mile hard bottom due west of Capri Pass with a live pinfish or cut lady fish on a drift or anchored up with chum. Note: gag grouper are now closed to harvest in both domains…..state and federal.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 4, 2015 – December 11, 2015

CONDITIONS:

As we start this period we are in the midst of a stalled front delivering rain through the weekend which will be followed by some significant wind. Not good fishing conditions. But that all settles down post weekend. Those winds, again, will be easterly and kind to the fishing conditions. You may see the waters kicked up a bit in the backwater bays and flats especially on the outgoing tides but the incoming should be clean and green. With the lunar phase heading to a new moon at the end of the period you’ll find a very mild morning outgoing tide followed by a moderately robust PM incoming. But neither side is really racing. The early week frontal passage will add another slight dip to the water temps and you should see the first 60 degree water this week.

BACKWATER:

As noted last week, the key factor now controlling species availability is the changing water temperature. As the temperature continues to fall it provides a trigger for many of the species available here to either depart for warmer water or head our way. You should see the snook bite slowing as the linesiders like 70 degrees and above. The bigger snook will slow their feed first and the juveniles some weeks after. Redfish should act the opposite and turn on as the water cools down, especially now in their spawning period. Should see good to great action in the Bay’s i.e. Rookery, Johnson, and Addison working the shallow edges late in the tides with shrimp freelined or set out under a popper. You’ll also notice that it’s much harder to find those big keeper snapper now as conditions change……lots of little ones around however. Best technique on the “take home” snapper is to work the half hour on either side of slack water on you’re favorite spot. The cool down will influence species like sheepshead, black drum, flounder, whiting, seatrout, to kick into action and you may begin to see these species in the weeks ahead.

NEARSHORE:

As conditions settle down post front, look for good action along the first and second string of reefs on pelagics like the mackerel, bluefish, jacks and lady fish out there attacking the bait schools that move into place as fall / winter conditions kick in. Can get into the action in two ways. First, is to stay mobile and work the edges of the surface eruptions of bait and diving birds with a top water jig either cast or trolled on the perimeter of the action. The alternative is to anchor up on a reef spot, toss over a netted block of chum and work those same jigs in the slick that will be drawing and holding those pelagics in the slick. Either method works. But if you chose to anchor up you might have a good chance for something bigger by setting out a live bait running ten feet or so off the bottom. Those cooler water temperatures here are cold up in Florida Panhandle where cobia, kingfish, permit have been summering and they are in transit past here as they feed heading to the winter warmth in the Keys. With a bait in the water you always have a chance.

OFFSHORE:

As has been the case here for months, the best opportunity in deeper water has been on red grouper. With the harvest closure continuing at least until 2016 in federal waters, you’ll be limited to working state waters (0-9 miles from the closest point of land) over hard bottom working a live pinfish or cut lady fish tight to the structure. Keep the drag tight on your reel because the first reaction from the hooked fish is to dive back into it’s hole……once there, it doesn’t come back. Red grouper need to be 20″ overall length to harvest and you can keep two per day.