Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

March 31, to April 6, 2017 Fishing Report

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

CONDITIONS: Would love to assume that everything is honky-dory with the weather now that April has arrived……but sorry; no so !. This coming week will see a few spring rain shower intervals that may disrupt trips but for the overall, we’ll have a week of sunny weather with a few early week days with howling gusty afternoon winds. Most of that activity will emanate from the S and SW thus sparing us for another muddy water siege here. The tides this week will be better than we’ve experienced in the past couple of weeks. Expect a morning outgoing tide of moderate speed and an afternoon incoming of the same variety. Of note is the fact that a lot of our “no-tide” or “racing tide” days in the last two weeks has been accentuated by the raucous wind velocity we experienced.The water temperature which is hovering circa 72-74 degrees as we speak will probably inch up during the week.

BACKWATER: The “big” sheepshead bite is waning fast but the big guys / gals leave behind legions of undersized bait stealers. Careful where you fish or make sure you have a huge bait bucket……small sheepshead can empty it. (Use half shrimp if you must fish in their domain). As the water temperature inches up we should begin to see the vanguard of the tarpon migration appear all along the coastline and in the “cut through” tributaries (Marco River, Caxambas Pass, Hurricane flats/pass) and be feeding heavily. As always, either tide will work if the water is clear and of moderate speed. Baits can be cut catfish if working deep or live threadfin if working the shallower bars and cuts. Good chance also that the good size mangrove snapper will reappear and reenergize the backwater fishing after a generally listless year of sheepshead action. Work them along any of the good current mangrove edges with a whole shrimp with just enough weight to hold position. Elsewhere, expect that we will see the spring Spanish mackerel run in all the Passes as well and the nearshore reefs. The telltale of their presence will be the bird action of gulls, terns and pelicans. Back here inside the best approach is working a small flashy tipped jig in Capri, Caxambas or Hurricane Pass in fast moving water with incoming tide the preferred event. Good chance you might have the pompano mixed in and they will take what you’ve intended for the mackerel. Trout will stay active over those seagrass patches in Johnson Bay / Upper Addison and the Keeywadin dock spaces. All on shrimp worked couple feet off the bottom on a popper.

NEARSHORE: Things should begin to happen here….as the season changes and spring temperatures and wind stabilizes, we should see a return of pelagic action all along the first and second reef lines. First indication will be the presence of both bird and surface action as the pelagics (Spanish mackerel, bluefish, blue runners and jacks) begin attacking the bait schools holding on structure. You’ll need a chum attractant to gain the attention of the pelagics and then work them with either live bait or tipped jigs worked close to the surface. At the same time those reef structures will begin being populated with bottom feeders (reef fish) i.e. mangrove and lane snapper, spec trout, triggerfish, grunts and they will move into the flow of the chum attractant and take tipped weighted jigs worked a couple feet off the bottom. Might even find a grouper or two in the process.

OFFSHORE: Look for action to begin to stabilize as spring weather takes hold. On reefs and wrecks in the 8-12 mile range we should see good to excellent lane and mangrove snapper action deep working weighted jigs a foot to two off the bottom tight to the structure. Could even see some red grouper in this close especially if the structure holds hard bottom. But the prime target for the red grouper is deeper in 50-55′ over hard bottom where working a live pinfish or cut ladyfish over hard bottom can almost guarantee action albeit spotty as far as achieving keeper size. The super deep wrecks are now holding good action on the major pelagics i.e. Kingfish, cobia and permit. All species out here fall for live bait; the kings on blue runners worked in chum; the cobia on sight coasted thread herring and the permit on freelined small crabs under chum.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

March 24, to March 30, 2017 Fishing Report

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

CONDITIONS: March is really some weather month……this writing is Monday the 20th and I just finished a trip where the tide was moving 2″ per hour. Horrible experience. Now we have our projections for the coming week that show new moon tides racing and moving up to THREE FEET of water in the tide cycle. What are the reactions of the fish? Wish I knew……Only thing you can call a truism this month is expect the unexpected when it comes to fishing. So the tides are drawn by the new moon early and turn on the velocity juice. From Tuesday through Thursday keep that in mind as you ply the backwaters primarily but will have a significant inpact on the nearshore and offshore action as well. Forecasts also show a little t-storms on this Saturday and Monday that may get in your way mid day. Last but not the least look for the water temperature begin to rise again with eighty degree afternoons. Bottom line; March has always been a temperamental weather month…..stay the course; April is close at hand.

BACKWATER: If you find the right spot……close to downed trees and cover, the BIG sheepshead are still hanging around. Try to work the weaker portions of the tide. That may be a problem this week with the racing new moon tides but if you are diligent, you can be there when the tidal water comes to a slow down and a halt. That’s when the biggies will show for a treat…..then it goes dormant at slack and all of a sudden picks up as the water starts to move the other way. Be there to take take advantage of some possible 13-15″ sheepies. Best spots for this action is up in the splinter sections of Addison Bay i.e Three Island Cove and Bear point or the east edges of Hurricane Pass where there is considerable downed brush and good current flow. The smaller but good table fare fish; the whiting and the silver trout, have excellent conditions now on water temp and current flow (hopefully the muddy water will be cleared as the weekend approaches. These guys are easy to catch……just work a tipped jig to the bottom on a drift. Best spots are the Marco River as it approaches the Goodland drift on a slow drift working a tipped jig right to the bottom. Species are on the smaller size but excellent table fare. A tip……eat all you catch; if frozen they go to a mush consistency.

NEARSHORE: Hard to figure out the fishing in this offshore sector. With a day or two of clean water, it’s not unusual to get a Spanish Mackerel of the raucous bluefish chasing your tipped jig. Otherwise it’s back to the transgression of the largely avoided catfish. But as the expectation of the water finally cleaning up this week, hope springs eternal and we could well have the mackerel, bluefish, jacks and pompano showing back up in our Passes.  You will have strong tides both ways come mid-week and that could well turn on the action. Places like the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the corners of the Five Mile Reef could be the places to start off with working the top waters with chum to get things started and then working tipped jigs or freelined shrimp into the slick. There even could be a surprise of some bottom action on mangrove and lane snappers working weighted jigs tight into the reefs.

OFFSHORE: Long range trips deep working out very well this past few weeks. Veteran pelagics species, shunned the move south to the Keys, and hung around our local wreck and reef spots feasting on the residual. Quite unusual action at this time of year from the “stay-over” pelagics feeding on the bait schools that made this all happen.  The long range reefs continue to hold good action on pelagics that just “stayed over” working mackerel and some bluefish on the deeper wrecks. In the mix are also a few bonito and their cousin the little tunny. All provide great action albeit a bit marginal on the table. But, those wrecks and some reefs are also producing some nice yellowtail snapper action. Great action but even better on the table. These guys are best worked with freelined bits of chum on small hooks fed into a generous chum slick with the bail open……let ’em take for 10 seconds and then set. Great Action !

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

March 17, to March 23, 2017 Fishing Report

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

CONDITIONS: In addition to the March winds assailing especially the afternoon conditions get set for another challenge for your fishing this week. With a waning moon, the tides are set to go super limp this week. In fact, early week, the morning incoming tide is predicted to move less than 1/2 inch per hour…..and that will last for three days. Based on that alone would advise either cleaning up the boat or going shopping with the Mrs. Late week that gets a bit better but still very soft tides. Otherwise the general weather looks OK…..some cool spill over from the winter storm up north but will be just a weather hiccup here. Winds tend to kick up about 10:30 every morning and just batter us for the balance of the day….But, Hey ! This is March coming in like a lion and (hopefully) going out as a lamb. We’ll see. The air temperatures are touted to be in the high 50’s in the mornings and finishing off late afternoon just tickling 80 degrees. The water temps then will continue to hold in the low 70’s and support what has become a non-existent winter here.

BACKWATER: Will be another difficult week back here. In addition to the winds and marginally clear water you will have to deal with a virtually non existent tide. Note: fish are acclimated to feed when the tide is moving and carrying baits across the bottom; they stop feeding at slack water. Tide predictions for this coming Monday and Tuesday indicate less than a couple inches of morning outgoing tide and just a tad better in the afternoon incoming. Avoid ! Overall, fishing has been spotty and inconsistent. Too warm water and churned up clarity are major factors. Have to be patient and work spots with diligence. A light chum of shrimp bits into a moving current will definitely get what ever is holding there turned on. (Buy a package or two of frozen shrimp and cut them into bits for your chum). There are still some big sheepshead around but they will only show as either tide eases going to slack. Shrimp pieces for the strikes. Mangrove snapper are unseasonably active in the heated water but most are undersized. Again, the bigger ones show as the tidal strength lessens. Trout are staying active in Addison Bay and the approaches to Johnson Bay adjacent to the Isles of Capri. Work them on the incoming tide with a slice of shrimp strung under a popper. Juvenile snook are just about everywhere and feeding on shrimp or live bait. Just work the better shallow current points for the best action.

NEARSHORE: The bait schools are continuing to hold in the mid-range depths which is a positive sign that pelagics (mackerel, bluefish et al) will pop up as the warm water conditions continue. Keep a eye on bird action on the first and second reefs….activity from gulls, terns and pelicans will be a give-away that the predators are working the bait schools from beneath. Definite markings on the fishfinder screen will pinpoint the location of the schools. Either anchor up current and get a chum block in the water before working top water jigs on a fast retrieve or set up a moderate speed troll with the same jigs towed 100′ behind the boat. Either method will develop the action you’re looking for. In the same venue, the chum and surface activity should ignite bottom action on both lane and mangrove snapper as well as trout, triggerfish and maybe even some flounder; all on shrimp or weighted tipped jigs.

OFFSHORE: Mornings will be better out here this week as far as wind conditions are concerned. But take a reading on the tide predications as well; weak tides out here do the same thing as inshore i.e. either slow or shut down the bite. As you make you’re way west, suggest you set a lookout to check the crab trap markers for surface sunning tripletail. If sighted, well worth the effort to toss out a couple of tipped jigs for action. That opportunity won’t last much longer as the traps will be pulled next month. Super deep wrecks are enjoying summer like action on major pelagics i.e. king mackerel, cobia, and some permit. Need to get some chum attractants in the water on the wreck and then double back with live bait (blue runners for the kings; sight cast threadfins for the cobia and live crabs for the permit). If grouper is your thing you’ll need to work hard bottom in the 50-55′ depths with a live pinfish tight to the bottom on a tidal drift. Red grouper are available with a 20″ minimum. Gag grouper are still closed for harvest.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

March 11, to March 16, 2017 Fishing Report

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

CONDITIONS: If you believe in the “Ides of March”, look no further. Stand by for another week of indeterminable wind. With both air and water temperatures at an all time high, the winds will continue to put a damper on the fishing here on the Paradise Coast. The week starts sneakily with improving wind velocities and the extended weekend should be favorable for both backwater and offshore action with winds maxing out in the mid teens. Things change come early week with some rain (another front) pushing through with velocities of ten to fifteen with frequent gusts in the 20 mph range. Forecasting scattered rain on Monday. Settles down after that…..but back up again on Thursday afternoon with our gusty friends showing up again. So, all in all, kind of a predictable March week. Water temperatures are like a roll of the dice…..was 76 degrees last week here; water temp gauge on the boat this morning (3/6) showed 68 degrees on the water temp. Fish must think they’re are in some sort of a clinical trial. Hopefully the adage of March going out like a lamb will hold true and we’ll stabilize general conditions going into April.

BACKWATER: Inconsistant back here to say the least. One day you’ll have strong action back here and the next day try is like they’ve all vamoosed. Tides don’t really make any difference. My pick is that the water temperature moving 10 degrees in an single day (either way) has put them is disarray. Take for example the traditional sheepshead action….they are scattered; instead of being on their “nests” they are wandering to find ideal location for their spawn drop. So you might see one or two along a mangrove spot; they will not be aggressive. Sort of like a last chance technique. So things are unsettled…..but in some instances for the good. Take example the courageous mangrove snapper that traditionally heads to deeper warmer water this portion of the year are hanging around and feeding voraciously on whatever bait you toss out. Nice action on most of the current fed feeding spots all through this winter. Another hot attraction is the speckled trout that has been showing in hoards all along the temperate waterways and gulping down an artificial or a hunk of shrimp worked on a drift over those seagrass spots. They are absolute suckers for a small shrimp worked under a popper and drifted just over the grass. And last but not least this surprising late winter, the snook who should be in a dormant state and not feeding are spring active on whatever bait you toss into those current points in the fast moving backwaters. Anyway you cut it……this will be a winter to remember……good or bad but definitely different.

NEARSHORE: During this strange winter, this domain has been a place of respite for displaced sheepshead, confused snapper and lost pelagics such as mackerel and bluefish. Heretofore, the Gulf waters just offshore have been a great spot to tear into some great pelagic action (mackerel, bluefish) but not to be this year. Temperatures have confused. The action has been limited but if you hit the right conditions (water temp, tide effects and water clarity) the place can be a fishing nirvana. Need to check out spots like the Walton Artificial Reef just off Caxambas Pass and the legendary corners of the Five Mile Reef for great suspended pelagic action as well as solid bottom action on sheepshead, snapper (both lane and mangrove) as well as infrequent visitors such as triggerfish, flounder and trout. Most can be had by getting some block chum into the water and work tipped weighted jigs or simple lindy rigs in the flow.

OFFSHORE: Always post “Watch the weather” when flaunting the trip deep. Can be a piece of cake or a Victory-at-Sea experience. Be careful. Anyhow, in close, on the reefs 8-12 miles SW of the island have been seeing good action on lane and mangrove snapper with some trout, triggerfish and flounder in the mix working a tipped weighted jig to the bottom under chum. Most days you can come close to filling the box. Deeper on the far reach wrecks (60-65′) at 28-32 miles good action on pelagics that never left this area for the Keys because of the water warmth. Not unusual to see permit, cobia and kingfish showing here and jumping on live bait worked under a chum effort. A little closer inshore at the 50-55′ level hard bottom we have the continuing good action on red grouper taking live pinfish / cut ladyfish worked tight to the hard bottom on a tide induced drift.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

March 3, 2017 to March 10, Fishing Report

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

CONDITIONS: You’ll well remember March weather logo – “in like a lion and out like a lamb”. Well that’s exactly what we see this week. March winds are cruel to say the least. Forecasts show both morning and afternoon winds out of the E and NE (thankfully)in the 15-18 mph range with gusts hovering in the 20’s. Will make holding the boat inshore a rough deal…..will tend to foul the clarity of the water backwater…..and will make the trip nearshore as well as offshore a bit dicey. But we have to expect that here with all our unprecedented warm weather and the time of seasons change occuring. Thankfully, the tides will be moderate with no racing or still water. The afternoon incoming looks a bit stronger than the morning ebb tide. Full moon’s strong tides will occur next week. The water temperature will continue to be 10-12 degrees over normal late winter temperatures here……look for something in the 72-74 degree range all week with the super shallow backwaters to be a couple of degrees higher than this forecast.

BACKWATER: Look for the stronger tides to give you better action here than last week when the water movement was very nearly dormant. That’s a big plus in what is totally unfamiliar in our water temperature level as we move into March. Expect to see an uptick in more consistent action. That may be shaded a bit especially in the shallow “flats” water if we get the predicted wind volume forecasted. Would anticipate a  breakthrough of the sheepshead spawn action in early March regardless of the heated conditions……nature will force them to lay and fertilize those eggs…..hopefully in the traditional inshore habitats. Think, all of a sudden, we’ll see the big sheepshead show along the deeper holes in the Marco River / Caxambas Pass / Rookery Bay et al. Work them with cut shrimp / crabs / tube worms tight to the bottom on a soft lift technique. Elsewhere in the backwaters, the warmth is drawing an early start to spring fishing. Snapper, to good size, have stayed around and continued to feed thus we’re seeing some better size in the catch. Can be found along most any mangrove edges with moving current and will go for most any bait. Spec trout are also remaining active. Best venues for the specs are Upper Addison Bay / approach to Johnson Bay and up along the ICW north of Canon Island. Work a shrimp under a popper or an artificial tout with best on incoming water.

NEARSHORE: Wind could be an issue anywhere in the Gulf this week. Pattern looks like stronger winds kick in late morning, thus a first light start to your trip would probably provide the most comfortable conditions. Look for the possible return of customary spring action with the return of the pelagic mackerel and bluefish to the inshore reefs. Bait schools are holding there now; hopefully it’s a matter of time before we see the macks et al. Indications of their return will be heavy bird action on the first and second reef lines along with surface bait eruptions as the predators attack from beneath. Working tipped jigs under chum at anchor or trolling same around the edges of the water eruptions will get you action. Should see some good bottom action on scattered bottom structure and on major reefs (Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass) for sheepshead, lane and mangrove snapper, triggerfish (all release) trout and whiting working shrimp or live bait on weighted jigs to bottom.

OFFSHORE: Conditions permitting here. Close in (8-10 mile) reefs and wrecks are producing good action on both lane and mangrove snapper as well as some sizable sheepshead who are holding offshore pre-spawn. All are good targets for shrimp rigs or weighted tipped jigs. A little chum will help get the action started also. Out deep (30 miles) in 60+’ the wrecks are holding pelagics i.e. Cobia, kings, permit, that never made the winter trip to the Keys with the unusual warm water here. You’ll need live bait like blue runners, threadfin herring and pinfish to work the action out here. Plan on using block chum to get and hold the action on a chosen wreck. Also as you journey out and back, set a lookout to find tripletail sunning alongside the stone crab trap markers. Takes just a few minutes to drift back and work a tipped jig for some sizable TT’s now.