Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 30 to January 15th 2017 Fishing Report

                ROSE MARINA FISHING REPORT
             PREPARED BY THE MARCO ISLAND
                  CHARTER FISHING CAPTAINS

CONDITIONS:  Well a great weather start for the New Year…..a little chilly the last two mornings but that promises to pass and the balance of the period will have cool mornings giving way to nice toasty / sunny afternoons. Should bode well for the fishing and continue to stabilize the conditions. No fronts this period…..just warmer than usual conditions and acceptable wind. Water should continue to clear and hold it’s temperature level in the 72-74 range. That won’t do much to push the cold water migration (think sheepshead) upon us but will stabilize the conditions for the species that are feeding in the unusually warm start of winter here. The tides are going to be impacted by an early week new moon which will drive a fast morning incoming tide in the three foot range and a fairly moderate afternoon ebb. No surprises there. Winds will stay East and Southeast with calm mornings and then some breezes starting late morning into late afternoon. All in all…..a great weather start to our new year.

BACKWATER: Look for a continuance of the fishing quality experienced in the last couple weeks. The bite is there but it takes patience and good “tide” timing to put a good fishing trip together. Backwater tides will be very strong during the middle four hours of their cycle….the bigger feeder fish will duck out of the current and lay low until the water speed slows down. Pick the first hour and the last hour of each tide to get the better bite on your favorite spots. As the warm weather cycle continues you should continue to see good sheepshead activity albeit mostly juvenile fish but the 12-14″ take homes will show in the slower tide hours. Also the warmer water has kept the mangrove snapper bite very active on most of their spots….and a better than even chance that you’ll see a goodly number of keepers. Shrimp is always the best bait for the snapper but encourage you to use smaller pieces….avoid mega baits hanging off the hook. Also expect to see both speckled trout over spots with seagrass bottom (Upper Addison Bay; West Johnson Bay; N end Canon Island) working shrimp on a jig head just off the bottom. Incoming tide best. Also could run into a formidable black drum in the deeper holes along the ICW edges between Marco and Naples…..they too will jump on a shrimp.

NEARSHORE: Good weather conditions out here on the first and second reefs this week. Should be a better chance (slightly cooler water) for some reasonable sheepshead action working a tad of shrimp on a lindy rig on a vertical drop into structure. Other bottom action could show on flounder, snapper and triggerfish (season closed of the triggers). If the bait schools continue to hang around on the first reefs, keep an eye open for surface action from terns / gulls working bait schools….that’s a sure signal that there well might be pelagics (mackerel, bluefish, jacks et al) working beneath. Time then to get the chum in the water and work the slick with quickly retrieved tipped top water jigs. Bottom fishing with live bait will provide a good chance for grouper action. But after 1/1/the gag grouper harvest is closed for six months and, as always, you have to return the Goliath Grouper without removing them from the water

OFFSHORE: Nice conditions continue for a run deep. Red grouper continues to be the top target and they are staying very active on the feed. It’s a rather lengthy run to the 50-60′ hard bottom depths …..20-23 miles due west of Capri Pass. Load up with some “gold hooked” pinfish from the first reefs for bait and then get the offering tight to the hard bottom structure. Can take two red grouper 20″ and above per person daily. On the way out, set a lookout to scan the waters around the stone crab trap markers for sunning tripletail. They look like a piece of paper floating on the surface and can be taken on light tackle with a tipped dark color jig. Great eating !

Have a Happy 2017!

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 23 to December 29th 2016 Fishing Report

                ROSE MARINA FISHING REPORT
             PREPARED BY THE MARCO ISLAND
                  CHARTER FISHING CAPTAINS

CONDITIONS: So what do you think about the weather here ? It’s single digit cold in the Midwest and that’s rolling to the East this week BUT Miami set a record high temperature yesterday at 87 degrees and we were within a degree or two of that. Fantastic……for us!!…..but not so good for the fish. That heat has driven the water temperature back up into the mid 70’s and that is totally “out-of-character” for this time of year. We should be seeing the cooler water fish (sheepshead, seatrout, drum, whiting, redfish) really turning on, but that has yet to happen. The forecast for this week also shows a continuance of the same with stagnant weather systems fending off all that cold from up north. We’ll see some wind late week but nothing to shut down your planned fishing trip…..might even see some showers come late week. Winds kick up when the showers show but otherwise everything is single digit and easterly. Anyhow, enjoy the nice weather and keep at the fishing…..it’s still a blast.

BACKWATER: The glorious weather coupled with the holiday celebration this week will engorge the waterways with boat traffic and impact your fishing quality. Need to find a nice low traffic area back on the east side of the Jolley Bridge to support your fishing effort. Many of the waters back here are “slow speed / minimum wake” which will keep the traffic at a minimum. Addison Bay and it’s connecting tributaries are a good place to start….lots of mangrove shoreline and current points that attract species in the weather transition i.e. mangrove snapper, small black drum, flounder and undersize but scrappy sheepshead. Work them with a small tad of fresh shrimp tied onto a rig with 1/2 oz of weight right up close to the shadows and shallow water. Now, your working open areas and fish may not be schooling for you…..have some patience and give them 10-15 minutes to find before you haul to the next spot. A little dry chum fed into the current just as you arrive on a given spot will also help. Good chance for fair to good action in the Passes…….Capri, Caxambas and Hurricane but well off to the edges away from the main traffic channels. The water should be clear and the tide moderate which are the two major factors for pompano, mackerel and trout. Work the area using the current / wind to energize your drift and get a small 1/4 to 3/8 oz tipped jig head working close to the bottom as you move along. Note areas where you get a strike and insure you double back…..fish could well be bunched up here in the heat.

NEARSHORE: Very good chance the deeper water will be cooler out here. Not the surface water but that down 10′ to the bottom. That could well be a turn on for the cooler water fish that have abandoned the steamy backwaters. Worth at least a serious try. Try deeper reef spots such as the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass or the infamous Five Mile Reef SW of the island. Good chance you may find keepable sheepshead here feeding just off the bottom. Work a tad of shrimp on a lindy rig tight to the bottom and employ the soft lift technique (drop tad of shrimp / cut crab vertically to bottom and continuously lift the rod (and bait) a couple inches off the bottom very softly. A nibbling sheepshead will go after the lifting bait. As soon as you feel weight set the hook with a strong but compact yank upward…..start retrieve but never let the line go slack). Might also find some hungry snapper out here as well some nice size triggerfish using the same technique.

OFFSHORE: At least early week should be a nice smooth journey offshore.  Need about 20 miles due west Capri Pass to get into the red grouper. You’ll be in 50-55′ of hard bottom waters. The technique for getting ahold of one of these tasty fish is quite simple….pin a live pinfish or some cut ladyfish on a 3/0 weighted hook and run it tight to the hard bottom as you drift with the wind / tide. Want to keep the drag on your reel ratcheted down tight to prevent your strike to regain entry to his bottom hiding place. Red grouper must be 20″ in length and your limit is two per person.

Merry Christmas!

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 16 to December 22nd 2016 Fishing Report

                ROSE MARINA FISHING REPORT
             PREPARED BY THE MARCO ISLAND
                  CHARTER FISHING CAPTAINS

CONDITIONS: Good chance this week will bring weather stabilization with less wind and even temperatures. Fish need that to really turn on the bite. Forecasts show that we will have a rather steady week for air temps; cool mornings starting out mid 60’s and then by mid afternoon it’s tickling 80. The other factor is the wind: those wild afternoon winds are gone (or so they say) and replaced with softer breezes generally out of the E and SE. That will clear the shallower backwater that picked up some murkiness over the last week or so……and that is a definite plus for the fishing especially trying to evade the dreaded catfish. The tides are coming off a full moon and a little tough early period but fade to mild quickly. Both incoming and outgoing are balanced. Another plus.

BACKWATER: As reported in CONDITIONS there have been offsetting variables that has turned the fishing fair, at best over these past couple weeks. But, see conditions begin to stabilize in the shallow backwaters which bodes well for going forward. If air temperatures hold and the heavy wind takes a hiatus we should be into some good late fall / early winter fishing around these parts. A big part of that will be the arrival of the bigger, spawning sheepshead all along our waterways and docks. We are seeing the first part of that episode with the landing of 12-13″ sheepshead now working a very small piece of shrimp or a equally small piece of crab. Approach your spot with as vertical a drop as you can. Letting the weight just touch the bottom and then lifting a few inches repeatedly will draw the sheepshead and on one of those lifts you’ll feel weight, quickly set the hook with an upward compact lift……then do not let the line slack at all…..rod firm at a 45 degree angle and just crank. Boatside take a look at the hook position in the fish…..any chance of the fish breaking off…….get the net. Practice of the small / medium size sheepies now…the lunkers are 40-60 days off. Other promising winter fishing is for black drum who will be found mixed in with the sheepshead but will be bigger and put up a terrific struggle. Be careful, the juvenile black drum look just like the sheepshead (well….almost) they have black and white stripes but their dorsal fin is decidedly different and has two less formidable fin spikes. And finally, the seatrout have come active. You work them with a shrimp either freelined or under a popper in any shallow spot that sports a seagrass floor. Try water that is 5-6′ on a drift. Seatrout have a minimum size of15″ for harvest and a 20″ maximum (you can take one over 20″)

NEARSHORE: Sea conditions here will be improved this week with the diminished winds and weaker tides. As the water clarity improves during the week give working the Gulf edges of Capri and Caxambas Passes on the morning slack tide for pompano that will gather to feed on retreating bait schools. Work the pomps with tipped small jigs just as the tide stages begin. Later in the tide provides a good chance for some pelagic action on mackerel along the first and second lines of reefs. Set up on structure showing bait schooling and get a chum effort going right away. Follow with working some small tipped flashy jigs right up on the surface. Expect hot action with even some bluefish and jacks in the mix.

OFFSHORE: The deeper wrecks deep will hold the last of the southbound pelagics heading to the Keys. Both kingfish and cobia are possible this week on the deeper wrecks that show bait on the fishfinder. The pelagics will jump on live bait; the kings on a blue runner set out on wire at about 10-15′ in the slick and the cobia attracted by a sight cast threadfin herring as they arrive in your chum slick right up on the surface. Both are considered major targets. Red grouper stay as a top target. You’ll need to get into deep water ……50-55′ about 20 miles west of Marco. Work the grouper with live pinfish or cut ladyfish on a drift over the hard bottom.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 9 to December 15th 2016 Fishing Report

                ROSE MARINA FISHING REPORT
             PREPARED BY THE MARCO ISLAND
                  CHARTER FISHING CAPTAINS

CONDITIONS: Week starts off with a “bang”…..a weak cold front, the first of the season will bring a temperature chill down with some rain and then a gradual warm up through the balance of the week. As it effects your fishing…those morning air temperatures in the low 50’s to low 60’s should depress the water temperature. Would guess we’ll see our first AM water temp in the low 60’s early week and then escalate back up to the mid 60’s by week end. Thankfully, the associated gusty wind that is forecast to post small craft warnings, will be mainly NE and ENE and tend not to foul the water clarity although it will be tough to deal with the resultant sea conditions offshore. The effect inside will also rough up the normally placid conditions in the backwater estuaries. The tides will go a rather weak full moon late week. The tides ranges will be in the 1.5′ range for the morning outgoing and swell slightly on the afternoon incoming to a modest 2.3′ range. Generally, unsettled conditions like we face this coming week, has a tendency to put the fish off their feed and slow the action. But, we’ll see if that holds true.

BACKWATER: Action in the creeks and bays of the Ten Thousand Islands has been spotty. If you get all the right conditions (clean water; reasonable tide and stable water temperatures) things can go well with lots of continuous action. Get any one of those factors in the negative range, you can still get action but will require patience….they won’t be jumping in the boat. Think, maybe, you could classify this coming week in that category. One positive however, is that the tide will drop off last week’s racing tides and be much more reasonable. So, the chances of a good late season snapper bite could well be a reality. You’d have best chances for a stringer of take home mangrove snappers this time of the by working the slower portions of both tides along the edge structure in places like Rookery Bay and Johnson Bay. Snapper will jump on a small whole shrimp especially if you sweeten the water with a handful of shrimp bits before casting. Also back here, the bigger (12-13″) inch sheepshead are beginning to show as “their spawning season” approaches. The deeper holes along the ICW and the the docks of Keeywadin are ripe for sheepshead action working a small piece of live shrimp on a vertically  worked rig on a soft lift technique (Translation: lift your bait 5-6″ very softly; if you feel weight on the line a short strong lift on the rod will set the hook; then don’t let the rod move downward keeping pressure on the fish right to boatside). Also in the backwaters, if the water stays clean, you have a shot at pompano on the first hours of the incoming tide in both Capri and Hurricane Passes working a tipped small jig right to the bottom on a drift.

NEARSHORE: Even here the sea conditions could be tough early week…..much better chance for some comfortable conditions as the week wears on. Water temperatures will be more stable here and the water a bit cleaner which drives the point of better fishing action. Look for a better brand of snapper action….both mangrove and lane on places like the Isaac Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the Five Mile Reefs working tipped weighted jigs under chum just above the structure. Also a chance with that chum in the water than roaming schools of pelagics (mackerel, bluefish, jacks, small kingfish) could show on the surface. Quickly break out the light tackle flashy jigs…tip with a tad of shrimp and work them on the surface with a racing retrieve. Great action should follow.

OFFSHORE: Just keep an eye on the weather before you power up the offshore boat especially early this week. Should get better as the week proceeds. Still have some action coming south from the cooler waters of the Florida Panhandle heading south to the Keys for the winter season. They feed along the way of the lengthy “swim” and naturally stop over on sites that are holding good food. (The bait on the deep wrecks offshore the Paradise Coast). So, those deep wrecks are a great place to soak a live bait right now. With a little chum in the water and with live bait in the water on these bait rich sites can draw great action on retreating kingfish, cobia, permit and a few tarpon / sharks. You’ll need a good chum effort and lively live bait to garner the hot action.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 2nd to December 8th 2016 Fishing Report

                ROSE MARINA FISHING REPORT
             PREPARED BY THE MARCO ISLAND
                  CHARTER FISHING CAPTAINS

CONDITIONS: This week should present us with our same chill down mornings and warm to super warm afternoons AND. for a change, should deliver some much needed rain over the weekend. As is the case in most of the Southeast, we have been very dry for some weeks. The expected rain won’t be severe here, and although greening us some lawns and fauna, will not influence the fishing. Otherwise, the air temperatures will hold and the water temps will hover between 68 and 72. The more temperature stability we hold in the environment now will be a positive for our fishing efforts. We will be coming off a weak new moon and see some hike in tide strength with the morning incoming the stronger of the two daily tides. And finally, the forecasts for late week show a mild upsurge in the winds …..shifting to the N/NW and gusting in the 20’s……a sure sign that our “real winter” is not that far off.

BACKWATER: Action here has been slow. With water temperatures hovering between the break points of summer vs winter fishing, the action has been weak. Some summer species, mainly mangrove snapper, are still active but with much smaller fish than we enjoyed in the summer heat. And, conversantly, the winter mega-sheepshead are still somewhere offshore awaiting a general cool down. So…. we’re “in-between”. Best bet  is to pick a moderate tide either incoming or outgoing and work the backwater spots with some shrimp bits for chum and half or whole shrimp worked into the edges of the current flow. In addition to the aforementioned snapper and sheepshead, there is possible action on black drum (sizable to 20″) and spec trout along with some pompano and mackerel showing in the Capri and Caxambas Passes on either tide. Work the latter two species with tipped jigs worked right to the bottom on a drift at the beginning or end of either tide. Redfish is another possibility with action showing in places like the creeks in Johnson Bay and the shallow flats in Rookery Bay’s Henderson Creek. Here a whole freelined shrimp tight to the shallow edges can work miracles and save your fishing day.

NEARSHORE: Conditions here should be OK…..just check twice regarding that rain forecast for this weekend. The inshore reefs just off Marco are beginning to show action on barely keeper sheepshead as the migration begins. Most spots with good structure will work and the marked reefs of the Isaac Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the Southeast corner of the Five Mile Reef complex and great spots for both early season sheepshead and late season (and departing) mangrove snapper working lindy rigs baited with live shrimp worked under chum in good tidal flow. Up top look for bird action as a indicator that the mackerel are working up tight to the surface mackerel / bluefish schools. If there, get a block of chum in the water and work those tipped flashy top water jigs quickly through the slick and hang on for some serious action. Especially mackerel can give you a run for your money.

OFFSHORE: As the winter cold weather invades the Florida Panhandle up north, the final signal for migration will be flashed to the pelagics summering up there. As they head south to the Keys for winter they are looking to feed along the way……enter our wrecks and reefs as their likely targets. Great chance for kingfish, cobia, sharks stopping off for a snack and attracted to your live bait and chum slick en route. Live bait for the kings would best be a live blue runner strung out on wire leader at a 10-15′ depth…..for the cobia, they will show on the surface curious to the activity and chum….work them with a sight cast thread herring or pinfish sight cast on the surface. The permit are more elusive and will go for a live crab freelined in a good chum slick. Sharks will take a magnum cut bait soaking on the bottom on the heaviest tackle you own. Fun, fun, fun……

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

November 25 to December 1st 2016 Fishing Report

                ROSE MARINA FISHING REPORT
             PREPARED BY THE MARCO ISLAND
                  CHARTER FISHING CAPTAINS

CONDITIONS: As we enjoy Thanksgiving Week, the late fall weather is closing in. The air temperatures, especially in the early morning, can be downright chilly and that effects the water temperature as well as our comfort level. This coming week will be more of the same with some more radical descending air temps as well as some periods of rain late week. The winds are forecasted as variable in direction and rather mild until just over the holiday when we will have some periods of SW winds that are strong. Chance, then, that our waters may get riled up a bit and effect the clarity level. The tides move to new moon influence also late week and will have fairly robust morning incoming strength and then fade in the afternoon outgoing….but the strength level both ways will be moderate and not seriously effect the fishing. The water temps are edging down…..now getting steady temps in the 69-71 range and that will probably take another sight tumble this week. So, bottom line, with all of that going on, probably best to use the daily forecast this week to pick your fishing times.

BACKWATER: Have to classify the fishing in the extensive backwaters these last few weeks as “spotty”……and that will probably continue through these end of November days. Think we are in seasonal transition i.e….the summer stalwarts (snapper, mackerel, snook) are giving way to the cooler water fish (sheepshead, drum, seatrout, whiting) but it’s a gradual process. You have to be persistent and at the same time patient as you work the backwaters. Fish will be more active in the moderate speed tidal waters than in the dead slow or racing tidal waters…..the chillier water temps slows them down; just like it does for us. Most of the snapper now will be ravenous runts feeding like crazy along those mangrove edges on whatever you’re offering. Live bait works as does any portion of a live shrimp. Good idea to use the circle hooks now as many of these little guys engulf the bait and tend to swallow the hook; circle hooks will keep the insertion point of the hook point close to their mouth facilitating a safe release. But, we are also beginning to see some nice black drum on those deeper spots…..most in the 5-6 pound range but provide a great tussle and anglers thrill at the size of these battlers. Also beginning to see action from speckled trout on the shallower flats with grass bottom…..think Rookery Bay, Johnson Bay and Addison Bay on a drift with a shrimp under a popper. The bigger sheepshead are also making their way into the backwaters and jumping on just a bit of shrimp or crab worked on a soft lift technique……not lunkers here yet but many in the 12-13″ range. Finally, if the waters stay clear, the pompano action in Capri and Hurricane Pass should go full speed working small tipped jigs to the bottom in the early and late tidal periods.

NEARSHORE: Recommend a last minute weather forecast check before venturing out on the briny this week…..lots of variable conditions in store I think. Good reports from folks working the major reefs (Five Mile, Walton, Keeywadin, on mangrove and lane snapper. Probably an indication that the vanguard is moving to deeper (warmer) water as the shallow backwaters chill down. Best approach is working tipped weighted jigs right to the bottom under a good chum effort. Morning action will be better here based on a stronger incoming tide. There are also some nice size sheepshead showing here that can be worked with a simple soft lift technique with just a tad of shrimp or crab on the hook. The gag grouper, who love the colder water, are in process of moving from offshore and into the waters of the first and second reefs. Live pinfish worked just off the bottom right on structure will draw the action. Make sure your drag is ratcheted down to insure the gags don’t duck back into their liars while hooked.

OFFSHORE: Same caution here as nearshore…..check the local forecast before shoving off. Can get rough out here in a hurry if the winds kick up. Deep wrecks still seeing some southbound pelagics……mainly kingfish and cobia with an occasional permit. They will hang around the deep wrecks that have indicated bait schools evident. A freelined live bait under a bit of chum may be all they need to excite the feeding instinct as they head south. Red grouper should be a winter staple target. Look for them to hang in the 55-65′ water depths and love going after a live pinfish bounced across the hard bottom on a drift.