Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

January 27th 2017 to February 2nd 2017 Fishing Report

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

CONDITIONS: The reality is that this is WINTER here. Up to now in January we have been blessed with an “Indian Winter” (no pun intended) with afternoons with mid 80 degree air temperatures and everyone in shorts and t-shirts. Think that’s about to end. As I write next week’s report, I am post shell shock at last nights tumultuous frontal passage with rolling thunder and lightening and accompanying downpour. And today we all face 15-25mph winds that are churning our fishing waters into cafe latte. That, thankfully will all clear in a day or two and then, guess what, were into another similar front come early weekend and we do it all over again. One hopeful sign for anglers is that the predicted front will bring 45-50 degree air temperatures that will certainly cause a dive in the water temperature…….which is what we’re looking for here to initiate the inshore movement of spawning sheepshead and commence our winter nirvana of sheepshead and black drum action. So, check your water temps if you venture out this week. If you see anything like 59-62 water temperature……head post haste to your favorite sheepshead hole. Otherwise, we will have a new moon over the weekend and see some moderately strong tidal strength for the balance of the week.

BACKWATER: As one of our very good charter captains tells his customers as they prepare for the trip….”You’ll catch a lot of fish but getting ones to put in the box is a iffy venture”. Backwaters, with the unusual heat for January, are posting unprecedented results; you’ll see lots of mangrove snapper in and along the mangrove edges with a precious few being big enough to box…….lots and lots of “niners” that do a great job in eliminating your bait supply. If the bite has a dominance of those mangrove snapper, try working your spots 30-45 minutes on either side of the tide turn. It seems the big ones will hold off working hard in the faster moving water and put on the lunch bag in the abbreviated tidal period. Cut to whole shrimp to the bottom are the name of the game for snapper of all sizes. There are a few big (14-16″) sheepshead around but they are scattered and few in number. We’ve experienced the event that once you arrive on a potential sheepshead spot and get the bait in the water…the very first strike will be the biggest sheepshead in the domain. After that ….lots of runts. So keep moving. Other action candidates are spec trout taking shrimp on a jig head worked over 4-6′ grassy bottom. Try the top of Addison Bay (adjacent to the last marker) on a drift with shrimp under a popper on a drift. Another good spot is the west side of West Johnson Bay, better known as Calhoun Channel working the edges the same way. Incoming is a tad better than the outgoing.

NEARSHORE: Will have to dodge the aftermath of the late weekend front as far as sea conditions and water clarity are concerned. But as soon as practical, you could find the beginning of the cold water fishing on the nearshore reefs. Inbound from the unknown depths, that’s the first stop off point in the cold water invasion. Worth a shot either on the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass or the corners of the Five Mile reef complex working a cut shrimp or crabs on a lindy rig tight to the bottoms vertically with a soft lift technique. You’ll hit sheepshead action as well as activity on a range of species from snapper to flounder to speckled trout the rigs to the bottom under a good chum effort.

OFFSHORE: With favorable conditions, always a chance of bigger action as you run deep. Far range sites (20-30 miles) will hold action on species like yellowtail snapper, small kingfish, amberjack worked on either live bait under chum or on simple rigs of tipped weighted jigs. These species as well as an occasional flounder, triggerfish (caution: all sizes closed in 2017) or small kingfish are possible out here in the deeper water regardless of temperature. Additionally, the red grouper action on hard bottom in the 55-60 range is still hot. This would be the best chance for some great take home working a live pinfish tight to the bottom on a tidal drift. You can keep two per day with a minimum size of 20″.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

January 20th 2017 to January 26th 2017 Fishing Report

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

CONDITIONS: Great weather this past week……but hang on. Another front is on the way to visit us starting late Sunday. Will push the morning temperatures back into the low 50’s and bless us with 15-25 mph winds out of the northwest and west. But the event is short lived and by the end of the week the afternoon air temperatures will be back into the high seventies. So……the water clarity will get riled up early week and take 2-3 days to clear and with the front’s short duration the water temperature probably won’t dip enough to trigger the awaited spawning sheepshead invasion. The water temperature has been hovering in the mid 60’s and that not enough to trigger that invasion. Would say that we need a spell of really cool weather …..think mid 50’s….. to get the water temp down to 59-60. Watch out for the tides this coming week; they are virtually non-existent. No tide, both ways, is expected to exceed the weak range of less than 2.0 feet with the afternoon outgoing the best of the lot.

BACKWATER: We stated last week that the fishing was “spotty” at best….and that will continue without a genuine cold snap. Experience has shown that there are some major sheepshead around but on major spots that usually results in one or two bigger fish and then the legion of “runts” show up and the 8-10″ fish help empty your bait supply. More action is showing on speckled trout however but you have to work those spots that show seagrass bottom. To name a few of those…..the shallow approaches to Johnson Bay adjacent to the Isle of Capri; the north end of Canon Island just south on ICW marker #R28; the northeast side of Upper Addison Bay; the edges of Calhoun Channel north of #R6 on the ICW. Best technique is working a shrimp dangled under a popper in water 4-6′ deep on a drift. Another possible target is black drum (look like sheepshead with muted black and white stripes but sans the spiked dorsal fin) that are showing in most of the familiar sheepshead spots in the far reach backwaters and along the Marco River and connecting waterways. They are usually sizable (3-6 lbs) put up a strong fight and are excellent table fare. Work them with a lindy rig towing a small bit of fresh shrimp slowly across the bottom. Still some snapper around most mangrove edges but almost all are undersize……but scrappy and fun to catch. You’ll have a chance at pompano in both Hurricane and Capri Passes early this weekend before the front arrives and clouds the water visibility.

NEARSHORE: Conditions here will tank as the front and it’s aftermath pass through early week…….so go early. Few reports of minimum take size sheepshead showing on the Walton Reef just west of Caxambas Pass. Reef has published coordinates and is a major structure readily identifiable on your bottom machine. Technique is to cast vertically and then work the bait in slow vertical lifts off the bottom. When you feel weight on a lift set the hook and keep the line from slacking on the retrieve. Take size on sheepshead is 12″O. Can move west from Capri Pass for the array of barges that have deliberately been scuttled here over the years as fish havens. Couple of reports that in the days with cleaner water and moderate tides have had good results on Spanish mackerel working small tipped jigs under chum on either tide.

OFFSHORE: Reefs southwest 8-10 miles from the island are producing some nice mangrove and lane snapper working tipped jigs to the bottom under a strong chum effort. Good chance of seeing a few flounder, sheepshead and triggerfish out here also working the same rigs. Bigger pelagics i.e. Kingfish / Cobia / Permit are all winter residents of the warmer water in the Florida Keys until spring shows up in late March to early April. The red grouper are still the best offshore “game in town”….but it takes some good conditions and a long offshore run to get the best keep to catch ratio. They are due west of Capri Pass in 55-60′ of water (20+ miles) and are best worked on live pinfish worked tight to the bottom on a tidal drift.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

January 13th 2017 to January 19th 2017 Fishing Report

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

CONDITIONS: If the forecast are right on……we should have a fine early winter week. Should stabilize the fishing with cleaner water and steady water temperatures. Those are the two key factors here this time of year. Look for the cloudy water to dissipate late this week and keep a steady clear water visibility level all next week. In addition the wind will be winter favorable all week…..lighter winds in the morning and then puffing a little in the afternoons as the temperature variance between water and air temperature kicks in. Morning wind speeds should be less than 10 kts and then kicking up to to circa 15 kts in the afternoons. Not too difficult to deal with. There are NO rain or frontal passages forecast for us here all week. The water temperature has dropped about eight degrees this past week which has all hoping it will draw our winter mainstay, the sheepshead, inshore now. At this writing the water temperature is now in the 63-65 degree range. That is a far sight cooler than is was last week at 74 degrees most days.

BACKWATER: It’s no secret that fishing has been “spotty’ here the last couple of weeks. You know…. you work a good spot for 20-30 minutes and hope for a couple of take homes in amongst the legion of small fish that jump on your bait. All of that had a root cause in too warm a water temperature…..that could change this week as water temperatures work in some six to eight degrees lower than last week. That, alone could trigger the beginning of the cold water fish action (i.e. Sheepshead, Black Drum, Spec Trout, Whiting and Silver Trout). So, hope springs eternal, and be ready for some improved action in the backwaters this coming week. The sheepshead and the drum could well show at most deeper spots along the ICW and river waterways including the docks along the Marco River and connecting waterways. As always you work them with shrimp or cut crabs on a soft lift technique off the bottom. The spec trout will be along shallow edges with a prime spot being the Calhoun Channel just north of Marco along the ICW heading to Naples. And last but not least, the whiting and silver trout are in the deep holes off the beaches and in the deeper holes all along the ICW heading to Naples. Small bait on jigs worked to the bottom is the answer here.

NEARSHORE: Should be doable out here this week with light winds and zero from the dreaded west. Look for some late season pelagic action first working along the inshore reefs with an eye on bird action which is a telltale for mackerel / bluefish action beneath. Find some significant schools on the fishfinder; get a marker in the water and start some action with a bait in the water surrounded by a good chum effort. If the pelagics are in a feeding mode they will be on you like a blanket. Work them with fast moving tipped jigs pulled through the surface water. Don’t neglect the fact that some early season are sitting on the reefs beneath. Drop down a lindy rig loaded with a hunk of shrimp or cut crab and work it vertically right off the bottom. When you feel the weight; set the hook and hang on.

OFFSHORE: Good conditions for a trip deep. Chance out here for good red grouper action deep (20-22 miles 55-60′) working live pinfish or cut ladyfish deep tight to the hard bottom on a current induced drift. Reds have a take size of 20″O and your limit is 2 per day. Gag grouper that are in the same domain are closed to harvest until June. Deep wrecks  could continue to hold good amberjack action on live bait dropped vertically into the wreck structure on major tackle. Some of these AJ’s will go close to 35# and provide a legendary fight. The other deep water pelagics (cobia, kingfish, permit et al have taken refuge in the Keys for the winter.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

January 6th 2017 to January 17th 2017 Fishing Report

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

CONDITIONS: This week will bring us back to winter’s reality. Early week forecasts show a sub-50 degree string of morning temps accompanied by gusty winds. That will have effects on us as well as the fishing conditions. Most of those winds are NNE and will churn up the backwater shallows but, thankfully, they are not W and NW, which come in strong fronts and shut down the fishing with muddy waters for three to four days. That all begins with a little mild west wind and rain on Saturday as the front pushes through here. The water temperatures that have been hovering a degree or two on either side of 70 will take a noticeable dip with the chill down…….expect to see temps in the low 60’s by late week. The tides are   mild even heading to a full moon at week’s end. Bottom line…..this will be a week of weather flux, so you’ll have to carefully pick your timing and on a positive note the changes may act to initiate the winter species action (sheepshead, drum)

BACKWATER: Overall, action has been spotty back here. Causal factors are multiple…..water temperature staying summer warm, the afternoon “everyday” winds churning up the water clarity and whatever effect the release of polluted water from the Big Lake has on the piscatorial comfort level here. But with that said…..with persistence and a “plan” you can get results back here in the bushes. Factors for the plan might include working the very best tide periods…..stay away from racing tides and time your fishing to include the last and first hour of both tides when the water is moving but at it’s slowest. Also suggest you pay attention to the water clarity on the spot you are working. Tip: take a look at the lower unit step on your outboard…..how clearly can you see it ? Hazy ? That’s the same clarity the fish faces in seeing your bait. Move on if it’s not moderately clean. Persistence deals with effort. You work a spot for 10-15 minutes and you still have the original bait on the hook…..move on and keep moving until you get the action (strikes) that you’re looking for. As to the fishing itself, with the warmth, we are still seeing summer size mangrove snapper all along the mangrove edges in the shallower  backwaters east of the Jolley Bridge working shrimp pieces right to the bottom. Redfish are active on the north edges of the River in the super shallow mud bottom and taking live bait or whole shrimp. In the backwater creeks, you can easily be surprised with a BIG black drum working shrimp into the deeper current spots on either tide.

NEARSHORE: Be careful going outside this week…..check forecasts first. Several reports that “bigger” sheepshead are beginning to show on the first and second reefs. That’s only natural as the cooler deeper water is out here in the 20-30′ depths. They will be mixed in with snapper and probably some triggerfish (closed to harvest all of 2017) and trout. Work all of them with shrimp loaded lindy rigs worked into structure with a soft lift technique if you feel the nudge from a sheepshead. Other opportunity here will be pelagics….mackerel, bluefish, jacks, blue runners and maybe even a little tunny (cousin of bonito). Set out some block chum and give it 10-15 minutes to work and then cast and fast retrieve small flashy tipped top water jigs.

OFFSHORE: Same caution as nearshore on conditions. Best action remains  for red grouper. Need a deep run 20+ miles W Capri Pass in 55-60′ hard bottom working a live pinfish or sand perch tight to the bottom outcroppings on a tidal drift. Can keep two reds 20″ and above per person. Note: Gag grouper in the same locale is closed until June 1, 2017. Reefs and wrecks a bit closer in (10-12 miles SW) are producing some early season sheepshead as well as snapper, both lane and mangrove, in fair numbers. Work with either shrimp loaded lindy rigs or tipped weighted jigs under a good chum effort.