Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

May 29th 2016 – June 2nd 2016 Fishing Report


CONDITIONS: Sure didn’t take long for summer weather conditions to take hold. Although, still not at the full bore daily afternoon t-storm pattern, there is enough unsettled weather most days to remind us of where we’re heading. This week’s forecast shows a beginning of a east to west flow of weather coming out of the Everglades and heading our way laden with storm water…..there will be three or four afternoons that keeping a sky watch and readiness to abort your fishing outing should be in order for safety’s sake. Thankfully, the winds are light and streaming out of the east most of the week which should keep the water fairly clean. That will end with a strong “system” coming in at us from the south late week. The tides will ease off the “blue moon” of last week and keep the tidal current reasonable. Finally, the air temperatures continue to drive our water temperatures upward……expect those temps to hold close to 86 this week.

BACKWATER: Best description of our backwater fishing continues to be “inconsistent”.  One day the action is “lights out” and twenty four hours later, with similar conditions, it’s dead slow. Overall, would recommend working spots for 15-20 minutes and if poor action move on; however if you hit a spot where the action level shows evidence of species and size that you’re looking for. Stay and understand the bite will be slow and persevere banishing thoughts of moving again. If tarpon is your target, still and fair to good chance so getting some action along the north edge of the Marco River between the Snook Inn and the La Peninsula complex. Choose to set up in one of the deeper holes and set your bait (cut catfish on the bottom) into either tide. Also experience has shown that early morning is best with light boat traffic and placid water. Pompano are around and moving quickly and still feeding lightly. Capri, Hurricane and Caxambas Passes are still the conduits the pomps use and they are most likely to feed in the first and last hour of either tide when the current is the weakest and they are on the move. Worth a try with tipped small jigs worked deep. Worth a 20-30 minute shot; no action, move on. Mangrove snapper love the hot water and will be the “go-to” species as the summer moves forward. They should be on most mangrove edges where there is swift current and bait. Work with live bait or whole shrimp with just enough weight to hold bottom. They are your best bet as summer conditions take hold.

NEARSHORE: Sea conditions should be OK here with light winds until late week. As you leave the backwaters, keep an eye open for bird action all along the first and second reefs as that is the signal for pelagic action forcing bait schools to the surface. Can either anchor up on structure spots or stay mobile and work the perimeter of the bait eruptions with a tipped top water jig worked quickly… can even troll the jig at 4-5 knots along the perimeter of the action pools. Look for mackerel, bluefish and jacks / blue runner action. If snapper is your passion, might try anchoring on the Walton Reef just off Caxambas Pass and get some chum in the water followed by freelining cut bait bits into the current driven slick….the bigger mangrove and lane snapper will rise up in the water column and strike like a banshee. The legendary Five Mile Reef complex southwest of the Walton is another top area for snapper action.

OFFSHORE: Watch the weather movement here on your radar or smartphone…….can’t outrun those storms. Deeper wrecks are the late spring / summer homes for hungry pelagics i.e kingfish, cobia, permit, sharks and amberjack. Chum effort is an absolute necessity as you set up and try to draw the action. A live blue runner in the slick on wire leader will draw the kingfish’ the cobia will show up on the surface and cruise by looking like sharks……for them it’s sight casting a live thread herring right in front of their noses as the cruise by. The permit’s favorite is a small blue claw crab freelined into the chum and ….finally, the shark will take anything.

LAST NOTE: The gag grouper harvest opens again on 6/1 but the minimum take size has been increased to 24″

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

May 21st 2016 – May 28th 2016

CONDITIONS: The “breakpoint” between spring and summer weather is upon us this week. The spring winds go placid with most days showing but single digit breezes and coming at us from every direction on the compass. But along with that change comes the showers…….mostly in  tumultuous thunderstorms. And winds usually go double digit and gusty in the midst of those storm periods. Net result: Some nice clean water that occasionally gets riled and temporarily dirty as storms pass through. Also will have an impact on our sea water salinity levels as the torrents of fresh water pour in. Have to pick your times for fishing that are as stable conditions as possible. This week we will also be heading to a full moon over this coming weekend. Expect moderate morning incoming tides going to racing outgoing water in the afternoon. Morning conditions will be better especially in the backwaters. Water temps should be shifting back and forth from mid 70’s to the low 80’s depending on the amount of rain water intrusion.

BACKWATER: The inconsistent fishing we talked about in prior weeks is moving towards “spotty” ……a slight upgrade. Best defined as finding the species you want but then the bite is sluggish. You’ll get your target fish (pompano, hefty mangrove snapper, mackerel et al)  and then you’ll wait another fifteen minutes fending off small sheepshead and snapper before you have a target fish grab your bait. Takes patience and lots of bait. Target locales for the pompano and mackerel are in the Passes…..Capri, Hurricane and Caxambas with best action periods an hour on either side of both tide turns before the water goes full moon racing. Baits for the pompano and the mackerel are tipped jigs worked in the full water column on a drift. Mackerel will be in the faster top water and pompano closer to the bottom with smaller jigs tipped with shrimp. Now, this is the month that the legendary snook prepare to spawn. Their harvest season is shut down until September but they are one of the most exciting fish to catch and “try to” land. They move towards the Gulf now and will be on the Pass edges usually in the first light of morning feeding on pilchards and thread herring. Be there at that juncture in any of the Gulf Passes and beach edges with a bait well full of pilchards and rigs with circle hooks to enhance the safe release of these great battlers. Lastly…we are in the waning days of great tarpon fishing here but still worth a shot with a cut catfish soaking in the deep holes of the Marco River and Capri Pass as morning dawns on placid water.

NEARSHORE:  Here the returning bait schools drawn by the steady warm water conditions signal action. One of the best venues now are the multiple sunken barges ringing Capri Pass just northwest of the sea buoy (now a marker). Bait assembles followed closely by the feeding pelagics (mackerel, bluefish, jacks and bonito (aka little tunny). You’ll need a good chum effort followed by either live baits /shrimp or top water jigs worked in the slick. Give it a good 15-20 minutes for the chum to work and then hang on. Great action and good table fare with exception of the jacks. Mangrove snapper pile up this time of year on reefs just a tad south at the Walton Reef or the well known Five Mile Reef. Good technique is an generous chum effort and then freelining bits of the chum right into the slick…..the snapper will rise up in the water column and hit like banshees. Might want to keep the bail open to prevent parted line on the strike.

OFFSHORE:  Out here with distance between you and home, keep a eye on the moving storms. You can’t outrun these dudes…..a good new APP for your smartphone is “STORM” which gives you up to five hour projections on storm movement. Deep wrecks are still a favorite feeding point for migrating kingfish, cobia and permit. The first two species will be exploring the wrecks and taking live bait worked under chum; the permit are more likely to be exploring the deeper Towers SW of the island and love small crabs worked under chum.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

May 13th 2016 – May 20th 2016

CONDITIONS: A continuum of the weather pattern of cool mornings turning summer warm and driving gusty winds come late morning. Only change is that we will see the wind direction shift westerly over the weekend and into next week. Thankfully forecasts show that wind velocity to stay single digit. That may influence the fishing comfort but keep the water quality, still reeling from the recent front, cleaning itself up. We’ll also see and uptick in PM storms rolling through the area producing brief showers and isolated wind. Summer is close at hand now. The tides will be modest both ways this week as we head toward a full moon. Both flood and ebb tides will be of equal strength. And lastly the water temp will be holding at eighty and above as the daily air temperature ascends.

BACKWATER: The categorization of “inconsistent” given to overall back country fishing here last week still holds as the factor of muddy water showed up with the west winds following the mid-week front. Many of the fishing spots had to be worked in the cleaner but weaker ebb tide which effected the species available and their ability to find your bait. That should change this week and you’ll have better water clarity to work your spots. We should see an improvement in both size and number of mangrove snappers all along the mangrove edges as the water continues to warm and draw bait schools inshore. Work spots where there is good current flow and shaded overhangs with either small whole shrimp or live white bait. Keep some motion in your bait…..snapper react to bait motion. The favorite, pompano, are still among the missing but that could change any day as waters settle down and clean up. Encourage an effort to work both Capri and Hurricane Passes for at least 15-20 minutes on the back side of either tide turn…..just to test the possibility that they are there and feeding. Small tipped jigs worked to the bottom will get them (if they’re there). Of course, tarpon are still active and working the deep holes all along the Marco River from the Snook Inn to the tip of the Isle of Capri. Cut catfish on the bottom is the bait of choice and a stout rod with 80# test is a necessity.

NEARSHORE: With the prevailing wind direction switching west be careful re: sea conditions. Water will be cleaner here and suitable for some improved pelagic action on structures holding bait. Good starting point would be the sunken barges just past the “sea buoy” at the west edge of Capri Pass. Good shot here at mackerel, bluefish and a bonito look-alike called a “little tunny” working either top water tipped jigs or freelined pinfish etc into the tidal current under chum. Good idea, also, to keep a live bait (small blue runner) soaking in the slick just in case a major pelagic (kingfish, cobia, shark) gets curious with the commotion and the influence of the chum. Bottom fishing for both lane and mangrove snapper can best be found at the Walton Reef just off Caxambas PassD working freelined shrimp or cut bait bits into a heavy chum effort.

OFFSHORE: Ditto here on keeping an eye on weather conditions…..things can change in a heartbeat this time of year. Mid range reefs 9-10 miles SW on hard bottom for good lane and mangrove snapper action working tipped weighted jigs into the structure under a good chum effort. The latter effort will also attract any mackerel, bluefish, jacks that are in the area so stay ready with some rigs armed with flashy top water jigs. Deeper wrecks are holding and drawing the migrating pelagics that are feeding heavily. Set up getting chum started first and then work the area with live bait under the spreading slick. Most pelagics will take a tethered bait; cobia are the exception and you’ll need to toss a baited thread herring right in front of them as they curiously scan the surface.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

May 6th 2016 – May 12th 2016

CONDITIONS: Beginning the transition into full blown tropical weather as we see afternoon storms brewing this week and the weather flow going west to east. Means afternoon and evening “thunder-bangers”. Will influence the fishing quality with the storms fresh water intrusion changing the salinity levels and, with sustained periods of west and northwest wind, we will be paying the price with riled (dirty) water. This week will also bring some enormous spring tides as we pass through a new moon phase. All the tides coming off this weekend’s new moon will be strong but especially the weekend PM outgoing that will outgoing tides with a 4+’ range. You’ll want to work around that anomaly. The water temp will keep inching up as the daytime air temperatures continue to increase. Look for 80 degree water during afternoons this week.

BACKWATER: With the exception of the outstanding tarpon action, you’d have to classify the fishing back inside as inconsistent. More of that later; let’s cover the tarpon action first. It’s probably the best tarpon season here in the last 5/6 years. The tarpon are numerous and following a set pattern of feeding. The trailing edges of both Capri and Caxambas Passes have been drawing top action in the deeper holes on either tide with the simple process of setting cut catfish on the bottom in good water flow on both tides albeit mornings seem a tad better. The smaller species backwater fishing, as stated, is inconsistent. One day it will be lights out on pompano, trout and mackerel and the very next day with mimicked conditions….nada! Like somebody turned the switch. But you gotta keep trying. Pompano still rule the roost as to popularity and can be worked in all three Passes, in the early and late stages of either tide with small tipped jigs worked into the current flow on the bottom. Pomps are a school fish, so if you’re lucky enough to tie into a couple on a drift, double back and do it again. Spanish mackerel are another top spring target and can show, again, in the three passes, in fast water chasing top water bait. Look for bird action and you’ll find the marks with tipped flashy top water jigs pulled quickly. Spec trout would be another spring favorite. Grass flats in Johnson, Rookery and Addison Bays in 4-6′ of water on a drift with shrimp under a popper will get you into the action if the bite is “on”.

NEARSHORE: Condition here could be surprisingly testy this week with the inshore continued tough winds. Note: winds / gusts tend to be stronger within 0-6/7 miles of the island with winds / gusts caused by the differential between land temps and gulf temps.Beyond circa 7 miles the land temps are not a factor. So be careful. Mackerel action is present nearshore but tends to be a bit deeper than the first and second line of reefs. Look for good to very good mackerel action just outside the Capri Sea Buoy at the barges. Need to be close in and get a good chum effort going then work tipped flashy jig into the prevailing tidal current. Good chance for bluefish and even some small kingfish in the mix. Bottom fishing best on mangrove / lane snapper at the Walton Reef and the Five Mile Reef complex working weighted tipped jigs into structure.

OFFSHORE: As mentioned previously; better sea conditions out here than closer inshore….but still caution especially when T-storms around. Mid range reefs and wrecks for good surface pelagic action (mackerel, bluefish, little runny and small kings). Faster tides this week will improve the bite working top water tipped jigs under spreading chum. Bottom action will thrive on the chum spread which draws snapper and other bottom dwellers up into slick and baits. Use either freelined chum bits into the chum or use weighted tipped jigs tight to the bottom. Deep wrecks seeing good action on migrating major pelagics (kingfish, cobia, permit and sharks) All on live bait juiced up with a good chum effort.