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″.