Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 26, 2016 – March 3, 2016

CONDITIONS:

The water temperature went to 70 degrees today ! It’s almost as if we’re past the winter…….and all of that without the traditional temperature plunge that sends the winter species scurrying inshore to propagate. Guess we take what we get. Week ahead has more of the same with a frontal hiccup mid week with some nasty winds…..some out of the northwest which will tend to foul the water clarity a bit. Otherwise expect more of the same slightly chilly mornings and summer like afternoons. Winds will be reasonable and out of the east until then. The tides are coming off a full moon and will be exceptionally weak especially the morning outgoing with later week tides with less than six inches of movement in six hours. The afternoon incoming will be stronger. The water temperature should stay in the 68-70 degree range through the period.

BACKWATER: 

Unusual conditions persist. The traditional cold water action has vanished. With water temperatures never getting below the 62-64 range here, the mass sheepshead invasion of spawners moving inshore never happened. There has been some heightened activity in that regard in the last week but nothing like the norm. But still worth a try in the deeper waters of the Marco River docks and structure points with a tad of shrimp or cut crabs…..this week on the afternoon tide. Also the Keeywadin docks are a worthwhile target to nail a mega sheepshead on the same baits. Looks like speckled trout have jumped in to fill the sheepshead void. Better action on the trout than we have had for years. Good spots are the edges of Calhoun Channel just north of the Isle of Capri; the flats off Henderson Creek in Rookery Bay and the north end of Canon Island south of Marker #28 in the ICW northbound. If the warmer weather holds or escalates, keep an eye open for some serious snook action. The linesiders reactivate in 70 degree water and will be feeding heavily after their short winter solstice. Live bait is the key here worked on shallower current points. Finally, don’t forget the silver trout and whiting action, so typical to usual winter action that are a hot target off the beaches and the holes along the ICW working small tipped jigs deep.

NEARSHORE:

Weather conditions out here should be reasonable this week with the exception of the front running through here midweek. Good reports of bigger sheepshead on the Isaac Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass worked with shrimp / cut crabs on a vertical soft lift technique. Just might be that with the warmer water inshore that the big breeders stayed on the deeper cooler reefs out here. Also seeing white bait reassembling out here which bodes well for some hot pelagic action (mackerel / bluefish) in the weeks ahead.

OFFSHORE:

Red grouper……….for the first time in a long time the bite seems diminished. Causal factors: perhaps the fouled water leaching from the Okeechobee drain off or the unusual water temperature issue. Hopefully it will snap back quickly. But still worth a try working live pinfish / cut ladyfish over hard bottom 9-11 miles due west of Capri Pass. Nice size lane and mangrove snapper to 15″ have been the “go to” species as the grouper take waned. They are being worked on structure with tipped weighted jigs a couple feet off the bottom under chum. Deep; still have reportable action on good to excellent amberjack action on wrecks using a vertical drop of live bait right into the structure.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 19, 2016 – February 25, 2016

CONDITIONS:

Unfortunately, weather is not the only condition we are dealing with now that influences our fishing now. Allow me to quickly explain.  The Corp of Army Engineers are releasing hundreds of thousands of tainted gallons of fresh water, that have overfilled Lake Okeechobee right into the Caloosahatchee River that has run west and impacted our fishing from Ft.Myers on west and south into our Gulf and inshore waters. These tainted waters are supposed to be released south into the Everglades water shed where the natural filtration in the Glades would clean it before it reaches Florida Bay. Sorry, to overburden you with this overarching issue but you will see the impact on the fish bite here until this tainted fresh water is assimilated. Otherwise, we have a week ahead that will be a bit weather friendly albeit with some chilly mornings but warming quickly. Wind will jump back with some gusty blasts mid week but the fronts / rains are gone. Tides are moderate with a stronger morning incoming than the more placid afternoon outgoing. The water temp should inch up to 63-65 by week end.

BACKWATER:

The expected great bite on mega sheepshead isn’t happening…….yet. Up and down water temperatures as well the west winds that muddied the water are highly suspected causal factors. If you try anyhow, there will be bait bucket emptying escapades with undersized sheepshead. With current conditions would recommend fishing tight to barnacle laden pilings on either tide with a tiny piece of fresh shrimp or crab and be patient…… It will take longer to get the action on the sheepshead started. Hopefully, you’ll see a few harvestable fish in the mix. As an alternative, give seatrout a try. Good spots are along the waterway enroute Keeywadin known as Calhoun Channel. Set up in 4-6′ of water and work either shrimp or tipped small jigs into the moving water just off the bottom. You need at least 15″ to take a trout but they are worth the effort for they are considered excellent table fare. The waters are still friendly to mangrove snapper all along the mangrove edges…..a whole shrimp here will do a better job than a tiny piece that you’ve been using along the waterways for the still elusive sheepshead.

NEARSHORE: 

Might have bit of a better chance out here……water could be a bit clearer but, unfortunately still fouled by the Okcachobee tainted water release. Pelagic top water fish (mackerel, bluefish, jacks) would probably have moved as far west as they needed to escape that influence. However bottom dwellers out here could have stayed their ground with more staid waters. Worth a try to work some of the first and second reefs, working cut crabs or tads of shrimp tight to the structure for sheepshead, snapper or trout. Might even see an occasional triggerfish out here.

OFFSHORE:

Red grouper has been the red hot bite of here for months. How they react to the tainted water infusion is an unknown. Good chance they will be reviled…….and if they are they will move to deeper water. On a hunch, would recommend moving out to the 70′ water hard bottom and deploy your baits of live pinfish or cut ladyfish on a drift in the faster moving current. Weather should cooperate early week…..so you should have a reasonable chance. Otherwise head out further west to some of the super deep wrecks to work amberjacks on a vertical drop of live bait into the wreck structure and hang on……some of these AJ’s will gross out at over 35 lbs.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 12, 2016 – February 18, 2016

CONDITIONS:

Looks like a front will be visiting late weekend through early week BUT most of the wind out of the east and less damaging to water clarity than westerly winds. Water, hopefully, will stay marginally clear and hold temperature in the 62-65 range which is just a bit above normal for us this time of year. Tides are mild with the absence of a moon phase with the morning outgoing a lot weaker than the afternoon incoming.

BACKWATER:

Action slower in the cooler and unsettled water conditions. Takes a bit of patience as you work for the bite. Sheepshead are the primary bite now with most catches sub keeper size. However there are locations that seem to be holding bigger fish…..the docks along the Marco River on the Capri side in the deeper holes; the Jolley Bridge structure; some of the docks along the west side of Hurricane Pass adjacent to Keeywadin Island. Work them with just a small piece of shrimp or cut crab (too large a bait gives them a chance to nibble off the edges and when you try to set….they get the bait and you get the cleaned hook back). Seatrout are active along the east side of Calhoun Channel on the ICW and will jump on a shrimp worked close to the bottom on the incoming tide. Later in the day try the grass flats in front of Johnson Bay or the flats centered in Henderson Creek just east of the Rookery Bay south entrance. Here the best is working a shrimp under a popper in 4-6 feet of water on a slow drift. Mangrove snapper are staying active and will take a whole shrimp worked into mangrove edge overhangs as long as there is tidal current running. Some redfish around but they are not schooled but singular. Best shot for a red would be in the far reach backwater in the last hour of the incoming tide working a freelined shrimp tight to the shallow edges.

NEARSHORE:

Sea conditions will be a factor here again this week. With white bait having moved deeper in the last few weeks, the mackerel and associates have moved out there with them. Start your Mack hunt in 30-40′ on top water over marked bottom structure with tipped top water jigs worked over a good chum effort. Could well be bluefish, ladyfish and, unfortunately, blue runners in the mix. Bottom action out here could be very good with sheepshead on the move inshore as well as on mangrove snapper moving to a bit warmer water. Best rig for both of these species would be just a bit of shrimp on a circle hook worked vertically on a soft lift technique.

OFFSHORE:

Will be cleaner water out here but watch the local weather forecast to insure you have stable conditions ahead. There are still some kings and cobia out on the deeper wrecks but they are moving south as the water temperature now continues to decline. Worth a brief try working a wreck with a live runner under chum. Big action continues on red grouper anywhere from 8-9 miles on out over hard bottom on a drift with a live pinfish or cut ladyfish worked tight to the bottom. Keep that reel drag ratcheted tight to prevent your strike getting back into it’s bottom lair. You can keep two of these red grouper per day. Harvest length is 20″ overall.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 5, 2016 – February 11, 2016

CONDITIONS:

More unsettled weather conditions on the way. Cold fronts seem to be arriving weekly and this coming week is no exception. Look for brisk westerly winds with advancing rain/showers come early week followed by plunging air temperatures…….getting old both for us and the fish. The fish are here but adverse to comfortable feeding with the see-saw temperatures and riled up water. Add to that a strong new moon tide that will see the morning incoming max out at a 3.5′ range but the afternoon ebb a bit friendlier in the 2.0′ span. The water quality should be just marginal with the cleaner water showing on the outgoing tide. The water temperature should dip a bit and be close to 61-62 degrees by week end.

BACKWATER:

Some courageous smaller snook are still active even in the sub seventy degree water. With the strong morning incoming tide worth a shot to hit the fast current points in Johnson and Addison Bays with pinfish, live shrimp or artificials on the flood tide. Fun to catch but out of season and too small……careful release please. Still some redfish around. Not schooling now but trying to subsist on well presented bait in the best warmth of the day. Try the shallow edges of Rookery Bay with a freelined live shrimp in the last hour of the incoming….worth a shot. Sheepshead are here; mostly smaller breeders now that will take a tad of shrimp or cut crab worked on a soft lift technique. The mega size breeders have yet to invade the territory. If their cycle replicates prior years, they will show in late February and “do their thing” until late March. Trout are staying active even with the tumultuous weather. The east side of the Calhoun Channel (north of Isle of Capri) has a sea grass bottom and holds the trout action very well. A live shrimp freelined in 4-6 should draw you some action. This is the time of the year that both silver trout and whiting show up to fill the species void. Work off any shoreline or deeper holes with a tad of shrimp on a jig to the bottom for some good action.

NEARSHORE:

Check the weather forecast before you plan a trip out here…….will be quite changeable this week. If doable, should be some nice action on some bigger sheepshead on the major reefs. The Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the Five Mile Reef should provide reasonable chance on sheepshead that will be bigger than the ones now frequenting inshore. Also might find some mangrove and lane snapper here in the deeper warmer water working while shrimp or tipped jigs to the bottom under chum. Have also had reports of some small schools of mackerel showing up out here on the stronger incoming tide. Work tipped top water jigs for these guys.

OFFSHORE:

Ditto on cautions regarding sea conditions out here this week. Inside reefs (8-12 miles west) are holding some nice mangrove and lane snapper that are being taken on tipped weighted jigs worked under chum. Careful: quite a few mutton snapper are in the mix; the keeper size on the mutton a is 16″. Sheepshead to mega breeder size are also beginning to show out here and best worked with shrimp / cut crabs on a vertical lift. In the 9-11 mile range, the red grouper bite is still the offshore rage. Great action with live pinfish / sand perch worked tight to hard bottom on a drift. Gag grouper in the mix; carefully release as they are out of season until mid year.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

January-29-2016-February-4-2016

CONDITIONS:

Certainly nothing placid with this early winter weather. Fronts are frequent and strong; changing temperatures often and churning up the water clarity. All tough circumstances for those who fish. This coming week is marked with rather serene conditions early week but ends with another frontal passage. Water quality should clean up and the hellacious winds become placid until that late week front. However, with all that upbeat news, it gets dampened with a week of almost nonexistent tides……especially the morning ebb tide which is slated to move less than six inches in six hours late week mornings. Water temperature should inch up and be in the range of 63-64 by week end.

BACKWATER:

If the conditions hold stable this should be the first week of the sheepshead invasion. Have seen some bigger sheepshead in the Marco River working the docks and pilings along the CAPRI side of the river this past week and that should spread out this week. Have to be patient….work a spot for at least 15 minutes before you pull anchor. Use a very small piece of fresh shrimp or cut crab…..not a lot hanging away from the hook point and use the soft lift technique where you lift the rod five or six inches so the bait has some movement on the bottom. Good chance there will be black drum working the same spots and taking the same bait…..they have the same black and white markings as the sheepshead but have a 14” minimum. Seatrout is also active in these cooler water conditions. Early in the day look for them in the deeper holes in any of the Passes and along the the ICW towards Naples. You can work them with shrimp laden lindy rigs worked to the bottom on cast and slow retrieve very slowly in this cold water. There are still some redfish around and active. Best shot for them will be in the last hour of incoming water in the far reach mangroves working freelined shrimp tight to shallow water mangrove overhangs.

NEARSHORE:

With the cooler water temps inshore, the white bait schools have vamoosed these inshore waters for deeper warmer conditions offshore…….thus their prime predators have moved with them. Look for mackerel now in the 30-40′ depth range still feeding on the moving bait. Best shot is working tipped to water jigs over a good chum slick. Very weak tides may be a problem this and if so run that jig 100′ behind the boat on a 5-6 it troll. Bottom fishing should hold some good early season sheepshead action. Most any structure will be holding these fish. Work on a vertical drop with just a tad of shrimp or crab right tight to the structure with a soft lift technique. Also good chance here for lane snapper, triggerfish or trout.

OFFSHORE:

Conditions should be improved out here. Winds are down and sea conditions are moderate…..water clean. Only issue will be the weaker tides. Red grouper haven’t slowed down a bit. Bite continues hot 8-10 miles west of Capri Pass in 45-50′ over hard bottom working cut ladyfish / live pinfish tight to the bottom outcroppings. Can be gag grouper mixed in. They are a great fight but are out of season for the next few months and must be released. Deeper wrecks and reefs still holding a number of late migrating kingfish. Work them with live bait under chum or on a slow troll with a large flashy spoon worked at a 10-15 depth.