Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 24, to March 2, 2017 Fishing Report

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

CONDITIONS: Nothing in this week’s forecast that shows a change in the abnormal heated conditions here. It’s more of the same……and maybe a little more so. Morning temperatures in the low 60’s and then surging to 80 or thereabouts by late afternoon. Our grateful visitors are lovin’ it but not so much for the piscatorial sidekicks that depend on weather chill down to make their presence here an event. Temperatures will be late spring like and the winds will be a bit stronger and more variable in direction this week. Dominant wind is still northeasterly but swings westerly come late morning and kicks up a bit. Look for gusty winds from the southwest most afternoons. May rile the water up a bit but nothing to send the anglers packing. The weak tides of last week that destroyed what’s left of the fishing will be gone; replaced by a new moon morning incoming that will have a range of just over three feet and a matching afternoon ebb. The water temperature will continue to hover between 69 and 73 with the shallower backwater showing a few degrees higher. All in all……welcome to an early summer.

BACKWATER: The “dead water tides” are gone and we should see more robust action this week. Suspect that the mangrove snapper action that is being sustained at a active summer level will continue. Snapper to beyond keeper size will be active all along the interior waterways working the current points. Places like Addison Bay / Johnson Bay / Rookery Bay should have solid action especially on the morning incoming working shrimp rigs / small tipped jigs on current points. The afternoon ebb tide will ease a bit but going back at the snapper should still work fairly well. Lots of these snapper, enjoying the extended warmth will be of “take home” size. Mixed in the action will be the “almost forgotten” sheepshead. If the experienced pattern is sustained, your first sheepie on a given spot will be a oversized keeper but from then on your catch will be bait depleting runts. There is no usual pattern of repetitive sheephead catches unless of course things change. Filling in for the missing sheepshead action has been good to very good action on black drum in many of the traditional sheepshead deep water holes all along the backwaters from Marco to Naples. These cousins of the redfish can go to well over six pounds and give you quite a struggle especially in a faster current. A simple shrimp rig moved slowly across the bottom can entice the bite. Spec trout is another option. Best spots for them is along the edges of the ICW’s Calhoun Channel and just north of Canon Island south of Marker R#28 on the ICW. On small tipped jigs with incoming water best.

NEARSHORE: Some chance with the strengthening of the tides that we could see a resurgence of the pelagic action along Marco’s first and second reefs. Early AM on the strong incoming tide best; check for the telltale signs of bird action or the bait school surface eruptions. That surface can best be worked by staying mobile and working the perimeter of the eruptions with a flashy tipped jig retrieved rapidly. Have couple of reports that indicate that little tunny (bonito like pelagic) are showing in the pelagic mix. If so, tie on a live bait on a beefy rod, and stand by…..they are a terrific fight and will range in the ten pound range. But debatable as to table quality. The Walton Reef just NW of Caxambas Pass is one of the best spots for bottom fishing inshore Marco. If the potentially spawning sheepshead are holding in the cooler offshore waters, this is where they will be. Set up on the ample structure of this reef and work the area vertically with a shrimp laden lindy rig worked vertically into the structure.

OFFSHORE: Should be a good week out here. Don’t see any hellacious wind / weather that would shut down the long run. Reports of action on the super deep wrecks has been excellent. Species that usually fled to the warmth of the Keys are hanging around here in the unexpected warmth of SW Florida. Possible to see and have great action on species like cobia / kingfish / permit entirely possible on the wrecks / bottom spots in 60- 65′ some 30 miles offshore. Need a good chum supply and a well of live threads, small runners and pinfish. Closer in (20+ miles) rough bottom still seeing good to very good action on red grouper working a live pinfish tight to the hard bottom on a tidal drift.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 17 to February 24 2017 Fishing Report

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

CONDITIONS: We’re running out of time. Time to get a deep cold trend that will drop the water temperature to the sustained  low sixties that will drive our winter fishing opportunities. And as we prepare the forecast for this late week in February, there is still no inkling of that going to happen. There is a front expected for the latter part of this period but it is shallow in duration and intensity. It will not materially effect the trend warmth. In addition, stand by for a weak of virtually non-existent tides….especially the morning outgoing. Mid week morning outgoing tides are projected to drop the water less than four inches in six hours. The afternoon incoming is a bit stronger but still not very strong. Would suggest fishing afternoons this period. The water temp will continue to hover between 71 and 68 with the afternoon air temperatures in the high seventies……..great for the beach / not so hot for winter fishing here.

BACKWATER: Recent fishing experience here has shown it is virtual summer ! The dominant fish available is the mangrove snapper ! By now, as we have stated, it should be the sheepshead…..the black drum…..the speckled trout etc. All signs show that the unseasonal warm conditions will continue. A couple years back we had the same circumstances where the sheepshead culminating spawning ritual was delayed and delayed ….then over one weekend we had a inundation of mega sheepshead showing all along the docks and holes to do their thing. They fed (on your bait) for a week or so and then vanished back to the Gulf depths. Good chance the same thing will occur this year. So keep tuned here and to your other fishing reports and be ready to get out there quickly. In the meantime there is still reasonably good fishing available. Back here the main attraction, as mentioned, is the mangrove snapper. There are most everywhere where there is current flow and mangrove cover and taking everything from tipped jigs to a tad of shrimp worked to the bottom in the current. Speckled trout are also active….to a degree and can be worked along the west edge of the ICW Calhoun Channel working shrimp under a popper on a drift. Other locales that can work is the north end of Canon Island just south of ICW Marker #28 working the same rig on the incoming tide. And as mid winter surprise….the heat is keeping the snook active. May be a problem this period with the weak tides but current points in Rookery Bay’s Henderson Creek and the feeder creeks in Johnson Bay may be your best bet working freelined live bait.

NEARSHORE: Typical winter fishing here for pelagics……mackerel / bluefish follows the reports on the sheepshead situation. Warm water!. Have had spotty action on these pelagics after a frontal passage working flashy tipped jigs under chum on the structure spots along the first and second reefs. Late week front forecast this week may provide the same opportunity. When front conditions subside would recommend working the reefs and major spots like the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the Five Mile Reef for possible pelagic action. While there can always drop down a tipped weighted jig for nice size lane and mangrove snapper and may even run into a lunker sheepshead biding time nearshore. Keep an eye open when running around out here…..there may well catch a sunning tripletail alongside a crab trap float. Drift back with a tipped jig for some great action.

OFFSHORE: Conditions should be OK here except for a day or two late week when we get another brief frontal passage. The deep runs (30+ miles) are getting all the attention now. In that cooler water deep offshore, bait and fish have adopted various wrecks and reefs and are ripe for good to great fishing action. Species as varied as yellowtail snapper, cobia, kingfish, amberjack are well ensconced on structure. Working live baits under chum can fill the cooler with delightful table fare. Closer in, the red grouper bite continues strong. Need 50-55′ of water (20+ miles due west) working a live pinfish / cut ladyfish tight to the hard bottom on a drift. The deeper you go the better the keep to catch ratio gets…..can harvest two reds per day that are at least 20″O.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 10 to February 16 2017 Fishing Report

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

CONDITIONS: As they say…..”the beat goes on”. The weather here stays late spring mild with just intermittent hiccups of faux cold fronts that stir up the populace and the water conditions for a day or two. As I finished a charter trip this noon the water was a tepid seventy degrees……In early February ??. So those, so-annual angling events such as arrival of the spawning sheepshead; the invasion of the hungered Spanish mackerel and the onslaught by squadrons of whiting and silver trout in the deep waterholes has been put on hold. Hopefully a cold winter has yet to arrive ?….but with every passing day, I’m afraid the chances grow slimmer. So we start this coming week with seventy degree water temperature; light easterly and southeasterly winds and tides heading into a full moon that will strengthen a bit but promise little for an improved bite. On the down side could even see some winds and rain late period as part of a moderate front that just add to the issue. Oh well, spring is just a little over a month away and hope springs eternal.

BACKWATER: Most sought after virtue back here these days is patience. It takes all of that that to work the beloved backwaters between Marco and points south to Gullivan Bay and north to Naples. The customary strong change of winter water temperature that has driven the sheepshead inshore spawning migration has not happened…..in it’s place is a lackluster invasion here and there of this species. Work a venerated spot for a while and you may get one or two of those winter visitors that meet or slightly exceed the harvest size……most of what you’ll see are undersize versions that are ravenous and help empty your bait bucket. It’s hard to imagine that at this time of the seasonality that mangrove snapper may be your best bet. But it plays out ! Look for nice size mangrove snapper on those spots you fished this summer……they are still there in the warmth. Work a small or cut shrimp in spots like the Hurricane Pass waterway along Sea Oat Island and adjacent Keeywadin Island. Or closer in all along the edges and points in Addison Bay, Three Island Cove and Bear Point. They are feeding on points where there is faster moving water. Mixed in with them on many points are spec trout, black drum and small snook and an occasional redfish. All on a simple rig of freelined shrimp with just enough weight to get to the bottom. Also an alternative to the “sheepie” action on early and late tide flow is in Hurricane and Capri Passes working pompano if the water is gin clear on tipped jigs run tight to the bottom.

NEARSHORE: Although, as mentioned, that the winter Spanish mackerel invasion nearshore, is missing…there is mounting evidence that the stalled sheepshead invasion backwater may be partially halted on deeper Reef structure out here. Worth a shot, especially early parts of this coming week when the winds are projected as nil. Two good starting points would be the mammoth Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the Northwest and Southeast corners of the Five Mile Reef. Set up is easy. Don’t need any attractant. Just get some shrimp or crab pieces into the drink on a vertical drop (20-30′) give in 10-15 minutes working the lindy rig with a soft vertical lift technique. You’ll feel a tap….do not try to set….just lift the rod 3-4 inches and wait for weight on the rod….then a compact set (12″) and begin the retrieve never letting the line go slack. Other chances out here are on mangrove and lane snapper as well as on occasional triggerfish (all to be released this year) and possibly a nice flounder.

OFFSHORE: To borrow a phrase from a famous movie this is “Where the Fish Are”. Will take a good run deep. Spots that are reporting great and varied action are minimum twenty miles west and maximum thirty five miles deep. Action is excellent out there. Cobia, Kingfish, yellowtail snapper, grouper are just a few of the species that are showing up in huge sizes and in great numbers. It’s a long haul but the weather has been non threatening and safe. Worth a shot if you’ve get a craft of adequate size and multiple engines. Take along a heap of live bait netted at the sea buoys and a supply of chum plus major tackle. Think this is where the major species retreated into clean water when we had the inshore warm up plus the adverse conditions created by the Lake Okeechobee toxic water releases. If you’ve got the equipment this is an excellent opportunity.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 3rd to February 9th 2017 Fishing Report

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

CONDITIONS: Fairly obvious now that we are not in a normal winter pattern here this year. Sustained seventy to eighty degree temperatures in the first week in February is not normal. Great for walking the beach or sunning at the pool but not so hot for the anglers stalking the “winter” fishing. This week, other than a day and a half late week with some wind and a little rain (weak front) it’s “Summertime”. Morning temps in the 60-65 degree range and then kicking up to circa eighty by mid afternoon. The tides are heading to a late week full moon draw but will not have the hellacious tides we experienced a couple weeks back. Tide ranges, both ways will be just over one foot. The warmth should bring the water temperature up in the mid-seventies and the lack of sustained west / northwest wind will keep the water flat and clean.

BACKWATER: The overarching factor back here, as you might have guessed, is the heated water temperature. As the normal pattern goes….as winter approaches, the warm water and pelagic fish, by nature, head south (The Keys) where the water is warmest. Then as the water chills down the cool / cold water fish hanging in the depths offshore head inside. Species like sheepshead, black drum, speckled trout, whiting and silver trout move into the backwaters and provide a (usually) great winter fishery……especially for our winter visitors. And unless we get a radical cold snap in late February or early March this year that either isn’t going to happen or will occur so quickly that it will be a non-event. So, you “gotta do the best you can with the conditions you got.” Here goes some tips…..the mangrove snapper are staying around in the warmth. Mostly runts but if you pick your spots and timing there can some nice 11-12″ versions for your cooler. Good snapper spots in Rookery Bay….the Keeywadin Docks….. Addison Bay points……Johnson Bay working the edges with good current with small pieces of shrimp. And the best time to be working the snapper is just before the slack tide and just after. When the water slows the big boys come out to play. There are some take home size spawner size sheepshead around and they are clustered on deeper spots with good bottom structure. Look for spots like that in Rookery Bay, along the Marco River and connecting waterways and the deep holes along the ICW working just a small bit of shrimp or cut crab tight to the bottom. With the warmth the speckled trout will be on the 4-6′ shallows earlier in the day in places like Johnson Bay approach and the west edges of Upper Addison Bay. Use a drift in 4-6′ with a shrimp suspended under a popper. Good luck !

NEARSHORE: Better chance of handling the warmer water conditions here. The 20-35′ water depths will carry cooler water. Mackerel and bluefish have, for some reason, been scarce this year but these out-of-character warm water conditions could well resurrect some pelagic action in close. Keep an eye open for bird action on the first reef line….that is a giveaway that macks and blues are forcing bait to the surface. Get a jig or flashy spoon in the water and troll the perimeters of the bait eruption. Keep an eye on the fishfinder and mark large concentrations of action with a marker…..circle back; get some chum in the water and work those top water jigs. Down below in the same venue, where there is structure, always a chance for sheepshead action. Cooler water here than inside and they may be hanging outside. Small bait on a vertical drop with a soft lift technique.

OFFSHORE: Of the three fishing domains that are offered here…..the deep (cooler) water out here is best now. Red grouper action in the 20-25 mile range in 50-60 ‘ of water hard bottom has had sustained action all fall and early winter. Easy technique of using live bait (pinfish and cut ladyfish) best tight to the bottom either over structure or on a drift will get best action. If you do anchor up on structure might want to do some “chunking” but dropping pieces of fresh cut bait right to the bottom as a specific species chum. Red grouper have a size limit of 20″ overall for harvest and you can keep two per person per day. Remember to release all gag grouper as thier season is closed for a few more months.

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″.