Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 29th 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: As 2018 arrives this week it will bring along a gentle turndown in morning average temperatures but with the late afternoon temperatures still holding unseasonably warm…….hovering around 80 degrees. That anomaly will keep the water temperatures at a ungainly 72-74 degrees. Get the feeling that another “too warm” winter is about to happen. That effects the various species that both vacate this area in winter as well as the cold water species that are triggered to move into our waters when they “naturally” chill down into the low 60’s / high 50’s. May be too early to make a full seasonal prediction just yet…….but we’ll keep an eye on it. Otherwise we’re in for a week with moderate winds but gusty afternoons late week……shouldn’t do much to mess up the water clarity. The tides will be dealing with a new moon cycle mid-week which sports a roaring morning incoming as a placid afternoon outgoing. Good pattern for working those hours on either side of the slack water particularly in the backwaters.

BACKWATER: Generally, it’s been a tough go fishing back inside. The pattern has been almost universal……..catch lots of fish but not many keepers. Back to the pattern of “unseasonably warm water”. Here in the shallow pattern of water and bottom features there is a piscatorial expectation that the water will chill down and draw cold water breeders inshore to link up and disperse fertilized roe into sheltered bottom spots.

If the “cold” doesn’t happen chances are they will make whoopie where it does occur i.e. deep. We count on those winter mainstays here to maintain our bragging rights of “year-round” action. The most sought after fish in the group is the sheepshead. When the cold water breeders would show they would consistently size out at 16-18”. Now you’ll empty your bait bucket in short order with endless 9-10”. Bottom line we need the cold snap. As we await the temperature change, there is sporadic

action in no particular pattern for black drum, speckled trout, whiting as well as hold over mangrove snapper working shrimp or live bait into current fed structure spots.  The take is sporadic but a goodly number can reach keeper size which is a sweet spot as we await the cold water backwater action.

NEARSHORE: Sea conditions should be OK early week but some of the late week afternoons could get a little dicey with bouncy conditions. And chance out here there could be a more numerous population of the “cold water guys”…….sheepshead particularly. Worth an effort to try spots like the Walton Reef just a tad northwest of the Caxambas Pass exit for some bottom action for the scattered sheepshead as well as resident snapper and other bottom dwellers. Shrimp laden lindy rigs on a soft lift technique for the sheepshead and shrimp tipped weighted jigs under some light chum for the snapper et al.

OFFSHORE: Sea conditions should be parallel here with the Nearshore forecast with some late afternoon interruption with some gusty wind bursts. Red grouper is still a viable target but needs the cool deeper water…….so a offshore journey for these prized fish would probably start in at least 65’ of water and then work deeper on a westerly drift. Bait is just about always the live pinfish, if available, and if not a couple slabs of fresh cut ladyfish both to be worked tight to the hard bottom outcroppings. Work with heavy gauge tackle on stout rods/reels with the drag literally ratcheted shut. Once on the hook, the reds will give it all they’ve got to get back in one of the bottom liars and cut you off. Else where, have several reports of good to very good action on midrange reefs / wrecks for yellowtail snapper particularly on the incoming tide working tads of chum freelined into a serious chum slick…….keeping the bail open for 10-15 seconds and then set with a vengeance.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 22nd 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: This will be the week that everyone wished for Christmas, including you anglers. Multiple forecasts show pleasant morning temps early week in the mid 60’s and warming nicely to borderline 80 degrees by mid afternoon. That bodes well for time on the water but will probably stifle the pure fishing activity with horrific boat traffic. Later in the week, we will see the temperatures drop with some 45 degree mornings and possibly some rain. That will cut off the boat traffic and provide more possible fishing conditions. That change will also drive some windy conditions our way and impact water clarity. The tides are coming off a new moon and are relatively placid both ways through the period. The water temperature as we start the week is hovering around 70 degrees…..that should hold and dip a little as the weekend cold kicks in.

BACKWATER: We posed the question last week as to what reaction would fishing have as the water warmed up this current week. Experience over the past few days has proven that the “cold water” species (sheepshead, drum, whiting etc) have taken a backwater hiatus. Would suspect that they have eased nearshore into those deeper cooler waters and await the chill down post some colder weather. You can expect to catch nice sheepshead all along the docks, canals and mangrove edges……most all of which are 1-2” undersize. Would recommend you try deeper holes along the Capri side of the Marco River and the west edges along Collier Creek where deeper water has the possibility of some “take homes” sheepshead. Rookery Bay edges are producing some nice speckled trout working either a small tipped jig or a whole shrimp (split shot weighted) along the channel through Henderson Creek. You might even run into a small snook in the same venue by working live pilchards tight in the late morning incoming tide. Mangrove snapper are still active in the tepid waters and although not as numerous as mid summer……many now have reached keeper size and are great table fare. And lastly, try the edges of Hurricane Pass (Sea Oat Island) early incoming tide with shrimp to the bottom for some nice spec trout……they school up early tide and then disburse when the water picks up speed.

NEARSHORE: Conditions out here should be placid at least until a day or so after the holiday. As noted in the BACKWATER section, good chance for some sheepshead breeders (bigger fish) out here now working structure all along the first and second reef spots. Working a tad of shrimp or cut crab vertically with a soft lift technique should get some nice action on harvestable fish. Also have a shot at other bottom dwellers on the same locale. i.e. triggerfish, snapper, silver trout and even a flounder….all with shrimp or shrimp on a weighted jig. There have been several reports of Spanish mackerel showing on the Walton Reef (off Caxambas Pass) on the early part of the incoming tide with top water tipped jigs pulled quickly over a good chum effort. Some chance you could even see a bluefish or two in the mix.

OFFSHORE: Nice conditions, again, through early week……could get a bit dicey out here late week with some precipitation and wind. Major deep target remains the red grouper that requires a sizeable offshore run to the 60-65’ depth and then working west. You’ll need stout tackle ratcheted down with either a live pinfish or cut ladyfish worked tight to the bottom outcroppings on a drift or anchored up and working into a serious chum effort. Harvestable size limit for red grouper is 20” and bag limit is 2 per day. As you transit west you’ll notice masses of stone crab trap marker buoys on the surface. Recommend setting a lookout and check pots for what looks like a floating piece of paper adjacent to the marker. Good chance that is a tripletail…..cut engine and idle back working a shrimp or a dark colored jig tipped with shrimp tight to the TT. They will give you a good fight and be excellent table fare. They have a 15” minimum for harvest and a bag limit of 2.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 15th 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: We come off the “chill down” this week with the morning air temperatures hovering in the high 50’s to the mid 60’s and getting to a mildly toasty high 70’s by mid afternoon. That will effect the water temp that had dipped to ____ last week and see it rise to a predicted ____this week. All that water temp swing is going to accomplish is confuse the fish. Unfortunately ! We won’t see any fronts / storms this week and just one brief spot of rain late week on one afternoon. The wind will be back and forth with most of the gusty stuff occurring in the late afternoons. Not enough sustainability in that to foul the water, so we should have a plus in generally clean water. We will go through another new moon cycle this week with tides remarkably steady……morning incoming will move 2.8 feet of water and the afternoon ebb will ease and move just a tad over 1.0 feet. All in all a good early winter week for fishing as our island population increases as we near the holidays.

BACKWATER: Think the big question back here this week is “How will the cold water species react to the temperature warm up ?”. Those chilly temperatures last week excited the sheepshead, black drum, whiting, silver trout into anticipated cool water conditions and now the air temperatures kick back up. Good chance that will slow their activity and feeding. Suggest, if you are targeting them, that you work the deeper water spots along the river and connecting waterways where the water is naturally cooler. Find one of those spots along the Marco River / Collier Creek where the water depth approaches 20 feet and you may find some lunkers. Elsewhere it will be hit and miss……..lots of undersized fish with an occasional take home. There is bait in the Passes and should be drawing some mackerel this time of year but reports show the action is slow. Best approach in Capri / Caxambas Pass might be to troll a tipped jig or spoon at 4-5 kts where you see surface gull or surface bait action. Stay off the bottom…..there are legions of catfish just waiting for anything. If you want to wander into the deep backcountry, there is opportunity for action along the edges and bays of Addison. Still some nice size snapper available and probably more take-home size sheepshead  here than the open waters. Sheepshead are “stealers” so you want to use small baits and employ a soft lift technique that will get them to hit the moving bait and allow you to set hook into your retrieve.

NEARSHORE: Better seasonal conditions here and generally a little cooler water. Probable chance that as the backwater warms this week the cold water fish will find food and refuge in the deeper / cooler waters of the first and second reef spots. A little chum will help if your target is lane and mangrove snapper……followed by shrimp either on a lindy rig or weighted jig. Other species that may jump at that opportunity are triggerfish, flounder and trout. There is also opportunity for sheepshead out here on the Walton and Five Mile Reefs working a vertical drop with a tad of shrimp or cut crab tight to the bottom, again, with a soft lift. Would think a good chance at more keeper sheephead out here now.

OFFSHORE: Sea conditions should be fine out here with just a couple afternoons when it may get a little bouncy. The pelagics, save a few kingfish, have high tailed it to the winter grounds in the Keys. If you are working a deeper wreck that is showing bait schools on the fishfinder, there is still a chance for kings. Take a chance at set a live bait on wire leader at 10-15’ depth under a float in a good chum effort……you never know!  Some good reports in the flat sea conditions of sighting tripletail hugging the stone crab trap markers. On your way out and back, set a lookout and if sighted, double back, cut engines and work the marker and connecting line with a tipped jig or even a freelined shrimp. Tripletail are one of the best on the table.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 8th 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Weather conditions do not stand still this time of year ‘round these parts…..and this coming week is going to prove that axiom true. Expect the week to start with a “slam-dunk” weather front that will drop the morning temperatures to 50, with tons of rain and rain up into the 20mph variety. But, as typical this early winter period, the weather issue will fade and late week conditions will return to chilly mornings but afternoons tickling 80 degrees. Unfortunately, the return of the good weather will not trigger immediate good fishing conditions……the murky water will have to clear first. The tides will be coming off the full moon and strong early weekend and then fading to moderate range and speed mid and late week. Water temperatures are a “you-pick-em”…… will dip over the rough weather period but how much they recover are still a mystery. Pick might be just in the high 60’s.

BACKWATER: Will be an interesting week back here. Early weekend will have mild weather and clean water with a good chance at pelagics i.e. mackerel in the Capri, Hurricane and Caxambas Passes working tipped jigs close to the bottom on a tidal drift; first hours of either tide usually are best. But all that will change as the predicted weekend weather kicks in. In fact, would seriously recommend taking a hiatus from your favorite sport until late Sunday or early Monday morning when conditions are expected to settle down. Think the quest for those pelagics will be done and gone come later that week until the water clarity level improves. So the targets will shift from pelagics to seasonal bottom dwellers. Would think the chillier water will entice the bigger sheepshead to feed and that could trigger at least a couple days of good action on keeper size sheepshead. You’ll want to work them on either just a tad of shrimp or a piece of cut crab tight to the bottom on a soft lift technique. Good chance there could be black drum feeding on those same sheepshead spots. They are a excellent fish to catch with a tough fight and great on the table as a drum species with the same quality of seafood as the legendary redfish. You fish for them with the same technique as the redfish. For sportfishing, the smaller snook are still very active with the water temperatures above 70 degrees. If you can net a supply of pilchards or sardines and work the mid-day incoming tide current points in places like Rookery Bay or Johnson Bay you could get some nice action.Other action that has been prominent is on spec trout that have been very active along the ICW around the south side of Marker #R28 just south of the evident sand bar.

NEARSHORE: As explained above……go fishing on the right days. Most probably post weekend. Water clarity just might be less impacted off shore and, if so, could be the temporary dwelling for the inshore pelagics. Look to spots like the Capri Pass barges as an excellent starting spot for a look see. Key will be finding bait schools on the fishfinder or reasonably clean water. You’ll need some precise anchoring and s good chum slick before you commence some top water jig action with fast moving retrieves just over top of the chum flow. Can also be some bottom action on the same venue on bottom fish i.e. sheepshead, snapper and trout. Elsewhere look for good action early morning on the Walton Reef just west of Caxambas Pass for early morning action on mackerel up top and sheepshead and snapper action deep.

OFFSHORE: As mentioned above….pick your day carefully this week. Still getting a few reports of late season kingfish showing on the deep wrecks that show bait schools holding. Scanning your potential spot with a pass-by observing the fishfinder will provide the necessary evidence. A live blue runner tethered on a wire leader under chum ought to do the trick for some excellent (and strenuous) kingfish action. Also remind those going deep the monitor the surface water surrounding the crab pots for potential action on the infamous tripletail. Find one…..go quiet…..double back and work tipped dark colored jigs tight to the marker.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 1st 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: This week finally delivers a nice quiet environment, especially for fishing. Forecast calls for very light easterly winds till late week with just one spot of predicted rain and even temperatures of mid-60 mornings that ease up to 80 by late afternoon. As an aside still think we will some of those gusty wind afternoons but most will be easterly and not as troublesome for anglers as the western variety. However one trouble spot will be the force of the morning incoming tides. They are predicted at close to a four foot range……that means in circa six hours the water level will rise close to four foot. Fish either go off their feed or go and hide somewhere when that happens. The late morning / afternoon tides will be more gentle and fishable. But it is still warm around here for December……water temp holding 73-75 which effects the cold water fish (sheepshead, drum, whiting, trout) bite. But, lastly, be thankful that the red tide that is enveloping the Sanibel waters up north of us hasn’t decided (yet) to move south. The significant red tide puts the KABOSH on fishing

BACKWATER: The word last week that the expectations on a strong late fall bite was upon us…….was a bit premature. As soon as last week’s temperatures took a 4-5 degree upturn the big keeper sheepshead bite took a downturn. We really won’t have our real sheepshead action until the water temp dips to the mid 60’s. In the meantime the sheepie runts will do a good job in emptying your bait bucket. But, as the wind has stabilized and the rain stopped, the water quality (clarity) has improved and the long awaited return of pompano and mackerel are beginning to show in all of our Passes. Look for action in the early stages of both tides….(the first hour or so). Drift the open waters working small tipped jigs that can reach or near-reach the bottom on a tidal drift. Both species hit with a vengeance and are as exciting to catch as they are to consume. Elsewhere, the small snook are still active and chasing surface bait all over the place. They go for pilchards as the #1 choice but will take most any live bait. Look for them where the current is running and the water surface is dimpled with bait. Most all will be small…..so if you’re targeting them might want to switch over to circle hooks to enhance a safe release. Redfish like these conditions we’re currently experiencing, and, as a result, have been pretty active over the last couple of weeks. Work them on the last stages of the incoming tide way back up in the bushes working a live shrimp tight to mangrove edges …….right into the shaded areas. Good fight on redfish and good on the table as well.

NEARSHORE: With a mild east wind, conditions should be good out here this week. And now getting some positive reports that mackerel and some bluefish are beginning to show is great news for our winter fishing here. Make a run along the first and second reef areas with the fishfinder on full power. Some of the reef spots will light up the screen with assembled bait and that’s where you want to fish. Anchor up-current and get a chum block in the water pronto. Working tipped flashy jigs quickly in the top waters should draw action. Both blues and macks should be iced quickly to retain quality.

OFFSHORE: Good week to make the long run offshore if you’ve been hankering to do so……nice and flat with minimal predicted storms. If you’re heading out to either the grouper hard bottom to the wrecks and reefs you’ll be traveling through areas littered with stone crab traps that have surface markers. Set a lookout on your boat on the way west to scan these floats for sunning tripletail. If sighted, do not disturb, run on and drift back working a tipped dark colored jig right to the TT’s domain. These are formidable fish that are legendary on the table…..so worth the effort. Will give you a bonus if you’re fortunate enough to put a red grouper or two in the box later on.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

November 24th 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: This week brings rather standard fall weather. The morning temperatures dip into or tangent to the 50’s but then as the blazing sun under clear skies heats the environment we are in the mid 70’s by mid afternoon. That pattern that has been with us for a few weeks is holding the water temperature between 72-75 in the backwaters and a little chillier in the deeper offshore waters. There is no rain in the forecast for the week so those current water temperatures should hold. The only “fly in the ointment” this coming week is the incessant gusty wind that shows early and stays late. Look for gusts in the high teens most afternoons. That wind will definitely effect the water clarity especially in the shallow backwaters and coastal points as it stirs up the sandy/muddy bottom. The tides are moderate both ways all week with the exception of the Passes where the winds have a tendency to accelerate the water speed. Lastly, just north of Marco et al, near Sanibel, they are experiencing a rather nasty strong red tide event which has a major negative effect on fishing. For the moment it’s holding in that domain but could leach down our way. Local news TV weather reports will keep you advised.

BACKWATER: Somewhat surprising is the fact that the larger sheepshead have started there seasonal “bite”. That is unusual this early and with the water temp still above their comfort level in the mid-60’s. You can find them where there is moving water and bottom structure that holds marine growth (barnacles, shells etc). Just a tad of shrimp or cut crab is the bait of choice…….both of which are more readily available that the more exotic baits like tube worms. Use a soft lift technique as vertical as you can make it……..feel the nudge; wait till you feel the weight and set the hook. Sheepshead have a minimum take size of 12” with the tail squeezed. In the same backwater spots, there is continued action on nice small snook (taking the same baits) and redfish. Most of the latter are small but always a chance of a take home. For the redfish, you’ll want to freeline a whole shrimp up tight to the shallow water line edges with the period of the high tide best. Have a couple reports of scattered spec trout being taken along the ICW waterway between Marco and Rookery Bay. The trout will fall for a smaller whole shrimp mooched along the bottom with the outgoing tide best……look for spots where there is sea grass evident on the bottom.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  NEARSHORE: Expectations for the fall / early winter mackerel / bluefish run are still on hold. Would assume, the massive bait schools that draw that pelagic actions, are still putting themselves together. Get a few scattered reports of singular catches on the first and second reefs with macks hitting weighted jigs intended for deep holding lane and mangrove snapper. The most consistent action now is on those last mentioned species working those weighted jigs tight to bottom structure on spots like the Five Mile Reef and the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass. Need a deep set chum effort here to draw the action. Also, excellent chance that the sheepshead bite inshore will extend to those close in reefs just off the beaches using the same baits and technique are mentioned in the backwater info.

OFFSHORE: Conditions out here will be probably better in the mornings vice afternoons with the gust forecast picking up mid day and building. Still a few pelagics hanging on the bait schools deep with the water temperature remaining moderate. Chance for some kingfish on those deep water wrecks working a live runner in wire, under a float in a good chum effort. Bottom action on lane and mangrove snapper should sustain on the reefs and smaller wrecks in the 8-12 mile range SW of the island. Easy pickings working weighted jigs under chum. Deeper (55-65’) still have good action on red (and some gag) grouper on hard bottom drifting a live pinfish or cut ladyfish tight to the outcropping.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

November 17th 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Thanksgiving week comes replete with the season’s first temperature drop. If the forecasts are accurate, the air temp will plummet over ten degrees post weekend……mornings will be in the mid 50’s but the warmth will return during the day and we’ll be back to toasty late afternoons. For fishing that overnight chill down will also chill down the water. Those 66 degree water temperatures will drop to circa 62.  And since we are in what the rest of the world calls winter, we will see action from that sector of the fish population that cherishes the cold. We will also see some additional windy periods which will have a tendency to churn up the waters and add some difficulty to visibility especially in the shallow backwaters. The tides come off a new moon early week and sport a early morning low tide and then a fast rising incoming tide. Will be an exciting week with a holiday crowd thrown in for good measure.

BACKWATER:  The cool down should provoke some long awaited action from some larger winter species i.e. sheepshead and black drum.  Being both cold water activists, we should begin to see the more mature members of both species as the water chills down. They are both bottom or near bottom feeders……so first, above all else, make sure you rig your baits to work in the that zone…..on the bottom or just above where their food is available. Sheepshead particularity love barnacles …their jaws and teeth are made for that action. So, working a dock or a series of bottom structures that have naturally accumulated these underwater growths puts you in the drivers seat. Tease them with baits dropped to the bottom and worked slowly on a soft lift technique on either tide. Best baits that are readily available are “store bought” live shrimp or easily captured fiddler crabs scooped up along the beaches. Just a tad will do as a bait worked tight to the bottom with a vertical lift. The black drum, which has the same muted black and white vertical stripe markings, are in the same feeding domains but move a lot more cautious to the bite. Once on, however, you’ll know you’ve got something special aboard with a much tougher fight and larger size than most sheepshead. These are a most desirable take home species. Cousins of the revered redfish, they produce the same delicious filet baked or blackened. Other cold water species that may show this week is the silver trout and whiting. These are medium size fish that will school in deeper cuts just off the beaches or along the waterways and are very active taking tipped jigs in a good moving current. Both species are great table fare and the best feature is there is no size limit and an astronomical bag limit that is seldom reached.

NEARSHORE: Waters here should also chill down as this week progresses. Bait should be more active and moving toward a schooling motive. That should draw the marauding pelagics to the feast. Look for surface action all along the first and second reefs…..i.e. bird action with terns and gulls diving on surfaced scraps or pelicans doing their “diving” thing. You should also see surface eruptions when bait is chased to the surface by attacking mackerel and bluefish from beneath. You can anchor up…..get some cum in the water and work them with tipped top water jigs or stay underway with a tipped jig towed 100 yds astern through the bait eruptions…..both techniques are exciting and usually productive.

OFFSHORE: Cool water action pattern continues out here. On mid range reefs and wrecks you will still have bottom action on snapper both lane and mangrove with the added possibility of early season larger sheepshead. You can work all of that with some chum worked into the structure followed by tipped lindy rigs or jigs right down to the bottom. Deeper the major wrecks are still an inviting stopover spot for the now south migrating pelagics…….you can fully expect to see a king or a cobia even this late as the cooler water is just setting in. A live bait set at 10-15’ in a good chum effort should get you some action. Use major gear and be ready for a struggle.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

November 10th 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Fall weather is slowly taking over our fishing conditions. It’s not only the refreshing drop in early morning temperatures but it’s the associated plummet in humidity. And you can’t forget the cessation of those rip-roaring T-storms that send us all scurrying. But on the negative side we are beginning to see the pattern of WIND. This week, for the first time in awhile, we’ll be confronted with wind (but more definitively gusts) that arrives mid morning and works the area for all of the late morning and afternoon. Those gusts make boat handling complicated and fouls the water clarity especially in the shallower backwater. Forecasts show afternoon gusts in the 20-25 mph range by week end. But on the bright side there is zero rain in the forecasts that will eliminate missed days on the water. The tides are in the middle of moon phases and reasonable both ways and the water temps should hover in the low 70’s neighborhood. Bottom line……good week to try out your late fall fishing skills.

BACKWATER: The fall species of fish favorites are showing up right on schedule. Those summer mainstays …… the snook are still borderline active but as the water dips into the mid 60’s in the coming weeks they will fade into quasi hibernation mode. Still get fair action on the juveniles but the slots will be scarce. Replacing those favorites in the coming weeks will be the fall and winter lineup of cool / cold water species. Dominant among that grouping is the sheepshead. During spring and summer months there were everywhere but true juvenile in size. Now, using the same bait and same locales you have a good chance at a take home fish…… and as the water continues to chill they will get larger as they head inshore to spawn. In the same venues you will now see their “look-alike” black drum. The drum can fool ID because of the same black/ white striping but they are distinctively different in size and fight to capture. Both species will go for small pieces of shrimp or crab worked on a vertical soft lift technique. Redfish will be the other dominant fall species as, they too, like the cooler climes. Reds like the shallower water especially over mud bottom and often will be feeding in schools. Their go-to bait is whole shrimp or live pilchards worked freeline or under a popper. Bottom feeding species like the silver trout and whiting will begin to show in the deeper holes and cuts just off the beaches and along the channels and waterways. A tipped weighted jig twitched on a slow retrieve will be their downfall. And not to forget one of the favorites the spotted sea trout which thrives in the cooler climes and will be deep in early morning cool and move to the shallow (4-6’) grass bottom flats in the warmer afternoons. Trout will fall for a tipped jig or an artificial tout.     

NEARSHORE: Waters in the 20-30’ range just off the beaches are also a great spot of sheepshead action beginning now, as they pile up on the reef structure feeding on bottom growth. As in the backwater use a slot lift technique with either shrimp or cut crabs as good available bait. Bottom action mixed in with the sheepshead will be on both lane and mangrove snapper as well as whiting and silver trout. All on small tipped jigs. If you work live bait to the bottom on dominant reefs like the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the Five Mile Reef there is a good chance you’ll run into gag and some red grouper working live bait tight to the structured bottom.

OFFSHORE: On the deeper wrecks in 60 foot depths you’ll experience the fade out of pelagic action on kings and cobia as the vanguard of those species are headed south on their annual migration as the water chills down. Need stout tackle……live bait……chum…..and patience for these larger species. As the water temperature continues to decline, the red grouper becomes the primary target in deep water. They are a great catch both from the action and on the dinner table. You work them using a live pinfish or cut ladyfish worked tight to the hard bottom on a tide induced drift. Another great target deep is the yellowtail snapper that hold on bait laden wrecks and become very active in a good chum slick. They, too, are great table fare.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

October 27 2017 to November 2nd 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Each week sees improvement in conditions as left to us by the hurricane. And, expectedly, as the seasons move along that improvement is enhanced by the change in seasons…….lower air temps which drive lower water temps; mix of fish change as they sense the cooler weather. The winter species begin to show……still a bit smaller than they will be in the pure winter months but definitely larger than in the screaming heat of summer hereabouts. So change is in the air and we are heading into a different, and in many ways a better, fishing season. This coming week will see morning air temperatures in the low sixties (WOW) which is turn will lower the water temps. Would guess by week end will see the water in the 74 to 76 degree range. But not all is good…..with that variation you’ll see winds kick up in velocity and afternoons will have gusts in the middle to high teens. That may roughen up the water and add a little more tannic clouding so the water, instead of being green is a coffee brown……still relatively clean but will throw the fish off their bite. The tides are moderate all week and heading to a full moon late week. They will pretty even both ways and fishable.

BACKWATER: Most evident change is that you will see some bigger winter species now…….not lunkers but a better than even chance for some take homes. The two species that become winter dominant here are the sheepshead and the black drum in the backwaters. These are both bottom feeders…..we will also see pelagic action especially in all the Passes (Capri, Caxambas and Hurricane) for Spanish mackerel and pompano as primary food targets and ladyfish, jacks and as “funners”. There will still be some of the summer favorites…the mangrove snapper hanging around but they will fade quickly as the water temperature chills down. If this winter plays out like most others the most dominant fish will be the sheepshead. At peak season it’s not unusual to land a 16 to 18” specimen that will provide a real tussle and a great meal. Technique is super important on these bait stealers. Here’s a quick primer: Best bait is just a tad of shrimp (give‘em a big whole shrimp they’ll take the part without the hook) or a piece of cut crab. Use a lindy rig and drop it vertically to the bottom. Then systematically lift the weight just a few inched repeatedly …..if you feel a tap do not try to set….just lift the line until you feel weight and then give it a compact (6-9”) set…..the sheepshead will be on.

NEARSHORE: The weather could impact here this week, particularly the wind. Doesn’t take long in shallower water to get a rough condition sea conditions going. Would think there is a better chance here than in the backwater for surface pelagic action on mackerel and other pelagics all along the first and second reefs as well as well as the inshore reefs such as the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass. Technique is to cruise the area with the Fathometer on full sensitivity and drop a marker where you see assembled bait schools. Anchor upstream and get some chum in the water prior to begin working flashy tip jigs up tight to the surface……you’ll know pretty quickly whether you’ve got a action event. You might even drop some tipped weighted jigs down to the bottom. Always a chance that the bottom feeders are working the shredded bait from the pelagics. OFFSHORE: Ditto on concern for sea conditions out here. There is a couple periods forecasting T-storm action this week and you’ll want to be vigilant……most times you can’t outrun one of these thunder bangers. Target out here now should be focused on grouper action. Cool down (moderately) should activate the red grouper and have then inching eastward. The gag grouper will stay active and mobile just above the bottom structure the reds will stay tight to same. Reds on live pinfish / cut ladyfish tight to the outcroppings. The gags 10-15’ off the bottom and can even be had with a trolled live bait off a downrigger.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

October 20th to October 26 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Time is a great healer…….and as these weeks roll on we’re beginning to see the arrival of normalcy on our waters. Conditions as to water clarity / water temperature / tidal volume are sliding back to normal slowly but the million dollar question for anglers is “Do the fish recognize it ?”……still some question there……IRMA was quite disruptive for all living creatures. But this past week, we saw the arrival of hordes of baitfish and that alone is a signal that we’re moving back close to normal. With the food chain reconstructed, it won’t be long now for things to be early fall normal. This week look for typical fall conditions here. The storm deluges are tapering off with just a few forecasts of intermittent showers of short duration usually early or late in the days. The wind is generally quite tame with some periods late week where we could get a couple days of bothersome wind conditions……..watch forecasts before you buy your bait. Tides are coming off a new moon but are surprisingly mellow……..they will be moderate both ways . Water temp, unfortunately, is still running “summerish” at 82-84 degrees which, in turn, effects the activity of our fall species…….redfish, early season sheepshead etc.

BACKWATER: After a couple of trips this past week, it’s quite evident that things are moving to normal……..late summer normal instead of fall normal. Seeing scattered action on fall “normal” action on redfish / black drum / spec trout but it is not frequent or sustained. With the water temperature hanging in the mid eighties we’re still immersed in the summer action of mangrove snapper, small sheepshead etc. Disappointing. Water temperature will be the key……once we drop to consistent water temps in the mid 70’s, fall fishing will turn onboard. But there is still some good fishing to be had as we ease out of a tough summer. Mangrove snapper are, by far, the most active and attractive target right now. They are now of sufficient size that there is a good chance you and your party could limit out with just a few hours effort. They will be feeding on the returning live bait along most of the shorelines with the best activity periods an hour on either side of the slack tide. There certainly are other species around such as early season redfish that are better worked in cooler temperatures as well as the fall / winter favorites of black drum and sheepshead……..but the peak season on those species arrives as the water temperature tumbles.

NEARSHORE: Sea conditions will be excellent this week with the moderate tides and slackened winds. Would be looking for the fall action on mackerel and other pelagics to begin to show on spots like the Capri wrecks and barges and the formidable reef structures like the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the Five Mile Reef complex. Out here the major encouragement is to “follow the bait”. Move into an area with bottom structure with the Fathometer on high and look for the masses of bait showing as solid black blobs……..drop a marker and double back to anchor upstream of the tidal flow and get some chum going right away. Pelagics (mackerel / bluefish) will be up close to the surface, so work top water jigs tipped with shrimp right over the chum slick. Good things are bound to happen.

OFFSHORE: Sea conditions out here will be akin to the nice flat conditions on the inside waters. Look for action on the mid range reefs generally SW of the island 8-12 mile range on good size late summer snapper, both mangrove and lane, holding and feeding on the ample bait supply out here. Work a weighted jig tipped with shrimp or cut bait right to the bottom in a good chum effort. May even see some early season lunker sheepshead in the mix now on these reefs. Go deep hard bottom (60-65’) for chance at some early winter season red grouper working a live pinfish or cut ladyfish tight to the bottom on a tide induced drift.