Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

May 27th to June 2nd Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Summer conditions continue to build and we’ll see more of that this coming week. Over the weekend there will be some short periods of shower activity during the normal fishing periods and then again, a little more robust shower activity on the first two days of June.  This activity will introduce some of those raucous thunderstorms that deluge the area and produce numerous ground strikes of lightning. Word to the wise…..have the weather map up and running out there on the water and don’t take chances. Otherwise, conditions look bit more moderate and stable. The winds that have gusted every late morning to nightfall will be diminished. Predictions show easterly winds in the AM shifting west/southwest in the PM with neither direction creating a problem for the anglers inside or offshore. Real feel temperatures will hover circa 100 degrees mid day……lesson there; start early and drink plenty of water. Last but not least condition issue…..the tides come off a new moon pre weekend and the afternoon outgoing tide will exceed a 4.5′ range which is pretty extreme; would recommend avoiding, as I suspect, the fish will do the same.

BACKWATER: Candidly, the fishing quality back here continues to struggle. For a litany of suspected reasons the expectations continue to fall short of what this area’s anglers are used to experiencing. Would suspect that natural climate cycles have had some effect on the issue, as well as the water quality itself as impacted by local stormwater runoff as well as the continuing effects of Lake Okcachobee’s tainted high water releases. And you’d have to add in the effect of a winter here that never got cold until mid-March. The results of all that come in two “flavors”; virtual absence of some normal late winter / early spring species in the backwaters (think Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano) and, secondly, current absence of sizable take home species.(think mangrove snapper). There has been some improvement on both issues and that should continue to improve. For most fishing for “dinner” the main target is the prolific mangrove snapper that thrives in hot summer Gulf waters. There is no problem with action on this sought after species…..the problem is SIZE. Lots and lots of 9″ snapper everywhere (keeper size is 10″). For those seeking catch and release action there are plenty of snook around. Best venues for these active fish are Johnson Bay creeks, Rookery Bay bars and islands. They will take most any bait but salivate over live pilchards. And lastly, there are lots of small bonnethead sharks on Capri and Caxambas Passes to thrill, particularly, the youngsters.

NEARSHORE: Overall fishing expectation and quality is a bit better out here……..more water depth; more assembled bait schools; and more stable water temperature. However, as noted in Conditions for this week, the afternoon outgoing tides will be racing and unsettle the fishing quality. Some reports have scattered mackerel working the Capri Pass barges. Locations for the barges are listed on websites as well as the HOT SPOTS CHART available at the Rose Marina. Best will be the morning incoming tide working tipped jigs over a serious chum effort…..could see some mid size sharks out here also, so bring along some wire leader, mid size cut bait and good luck. Try the Walton Reef, the John Dee Reef and the east and northeast corners of the Five Mile Reef for some possible God lane and mangrove snapper action. Work some weighted jigs right down into the structure behind a good chum effort.

OFFSHORE: Careful on your timing on your run west …….avoid the frontal storm conditions. Deep wrecks are holding sizeable amberjacks that give a serious fight on major tackle. Put up quite a fight but we careful handling boatside as their harvest is closed till year end 2017. Some of the wrecks just inside the “deep” level have schools of yellowtail snapper marauding and taking tads of chum freelined into a good chum slick on small hooks. The “flags” will rise to the bait near the top of the water column. Lots of lane and mangrove snapper to 15″+ on the inside reefs working tipped weighted jigs just off the bottom. While there work a large cut bait on wire to the bottom……lots of sharks around in the heated conditions.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

May 19th to May 26 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Settling into another week of fairly favorable conditions as spring rolls into early summer. The quality of the sport fishing here while lagging behind over the last month or so seems to be quietly and slowly catching up as the waters warm and the water clarity and quality move forward. We are looking at a week with some reasonable variable direction winds with nothing seemingly overwhelming……most of the early week has easterly morning wind that drifts southeast in the afternoons; late week that kicks up to SW and W winds that peak in the afternoon which could be a problem. Prediction for rains are early week and late day. The tides are running to a late week full moon and morning outgoing tides are predicted to exceed a 4′ drop.(Avoid). Water temperatures are pushing into the mid-eighties already which will draw the warm water fish (snappers) but bodes caution for storm development as the summer months gain momentum.

BACKWATER: Fishing back here with the heat and no-see-ums and mosquitoes gets challenging this time of year. Recommend carefully picking your spots, tide timing and wind conditions to gain favorable results. You need to concentrate on spots that have delivered time and time again… need for experimentation with the factors you will be facing. Work the favorable tides……you need the water moving but not racing either way. Try to work those best spots in the last and first hour of either of these strong new moon tides this week. It’s not uncommon that the bigger fish in your sought after species will show in the slower waters to feed when it doesn’t take as much energy to work against the current. Work your best fresh baits and maybe chum those backwaters up a little (chop up a bag of frozen shrimp and feed them into the tide as you set up on a new spot). Expect to see some bigger mangrove snapper this week as the extended heated water conditions will draw them to take shrimp worked on current points along most mangrove edges. Snook are also super active albeit most are under size (out of season now anyhow) but provide terrific action. Still tons of small sheepshead around that provide action as well as lots of jacks that provide a hefty tussle before getting them alongside. In the Capri, Hurricane and Caxambas Passes always a chance for some Spanish mackerel / bluefish chasing bait…..bird action is the giveaway especially on the afternoon incoming tide. Work them with tipped flashy jigs on a tide induced drift.

 NEARSHORE: Much better conditions here at least through mid week with moderate winds and cleaner water. The Capri Pass barges are a prime spot for some late spring pelagic action on the late arriving pelagics i.e mackerel / bluefish working tipped flashy jigs up near the surface over a good chum slick. And don’t be afraid to let those jigs dip down to the bottom…….the heated conditions have drawn a lot of small sharks (bonnethead, blacktip and spinners) that will excite the action and provide some great photo-ops. Then the reefs all along the first and second lines of Reef structure can provide some nice action on keeper size mangrove and lane snapper as well as some red and gag grouper (most all will be undersized… carefully release). And if you drop a good size cut or live bait to the bottom on those structures on major tackle, you could well latch onto a Goliath Grouper. Quite a struggle with these major size fish. Great for photos……but leave them in the water and carefully release. It’s the law.

OFFSHORE: Should be a great week deep. With overall mild conditions and stronger tides should get good action on the pelagics (kingfish, cobia and permit) on those deeper wrecks that are holding tons of bait. Set up with a good chum effort fed into the faster tide and work live blue runner or fresh cut bait into the faster flow for the kingfish. As we have often predicted that cobia, excited by the chum efforts and the fishing commotion, will take it upon themselves to arrive on the surface looking for food……feed them with a live thread herring on medium weight tackle. The permit will devour a small whole crab worked freelined into the current. All in all….great opportunity out here.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

May 12th to May 18 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Gotta think positive……even in the face of some tough early spring weather weeks with the incessant wind and riled water. The Accuweather forecasts for the week ahead FINALLY show weak to mild winds; very little rain and almost weak tides coming off this weekends full moon. Almost like pulling an inside straight in your Friday night poker game. Seriously, this will be the first week in some time that all of nature’s forces are positive. We should see the water clarity, especially in the backwaters settle down and clean up to emerald green. The winds, as noted as variable in direction but even predicted gusts are mostly under double digit. On the other side of the coin however, be careful of the heat. The water temp will easily go to the mid eighties and stay there and with the full bore sunshine the real feel, some days mid week, are predicted to exceed 100 degrees. Couple tips……go early; drink lots of water; stay in the shade the best you can. The fish you’re after already know that and you’ll do your best catching this week along shaded overhangs.

BACKWATER: The conditions noted above have a lot to say about fishing back here this week. Summer conditions are totally upon us now and you can expect most anything. Mangrove snapper will still be the main draw back here and, hopefully, they will begin showing up in a size that will fill the cooler. They will be on current points and adjacent to bottom structure all along the mangrove edges and jumping on most any bait with live shrimp being their favorite. As the sun rises mid morning they will be favoring shaded overhangs where there is a steady current flow. Make sure you work you’re best spot on the first and last hour of either tide. That’s when the big guys come out to play. The other major player in this heated backwater will be the snook. Now most all of them will be small (18-22″) and even if you luck into a slot size (28-33″) they must be released now……the season is closed until August 31st. Targeting these guys please use circle hooks for safe and injury free release. Speckled trout will still be active and found in the deeper cuts along major channels in the early morning hours working shrimp or tipped weighted jigs to the bottom on a tidal drift. Later in the day they will move to the grass bottom flats and take tiny tipped jigs worked in 4-6′ of water. And lastly, the Passes (Capri, Hurricane, Caxambas) are good action spots especially if the white bait moves inshore and the pelagics (bluefish, mackerel)  follow. Action here is best with flashy tipped jigs worked adjacent to current points with incoming tide best.

NEARSHORE: With cleaner water and fairly mild tides should play well out here this week. Have had favorable reports regarding the action on pelagics (mackerel, bluefish and jacks / runners) on the Capri Pass barges working tipped flashy jigs up top over a good chum effort. Had a singular report that little tunny were mixed in the fray there one afternoon. Reefs at the Walton Reef complex and the Five Mile Reef corners should provide both pelagic opportunity in the top waters and bottom action deep. Look for surface bait action and then either engineer a drift through the bait field working small tipped jigs down under the surface action. Another approach is to anchor up and set a serious chum effort fed into the tidal current and work the same jigs with rapid retrieve tight to the surface. Bottom action is centered on snapper action both lane and mangrove and a few mutton snappers that may show in the slicks. Chance too, for other bottom action on trout, triggerfish and perhaps small sharks.

OFFSHORE: Action out here probably the best of the three sectors. Water cleaner and unaffected by same problems showing up in the backwaters. Pelagic action continues strong as the migration of pelagics from the Keys moves into it’s final stages. Lots of kingfish, cobia and permit flowing north and feeding on the great bait schools. Work kings with a live blue runner tethered out in a chum slick on wire leader; for cobia…just sit tight they will show on the surface with all the chum and fishing commotion and have a live threadfin herring riggged on a casting rig with heavy line and cast right in from of the cruising cobia. Permit will be the easiest casting a small crab into a swirling current created by the sunken wreck or a standing tower.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

May 5th to May 11th Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: As predicted last week, things are improving in the world of Marco sportfishing but are agonizingly slow. As the air temperature stabilizes it drives the water temperatures slowly north……we are seeing 80 – 81 degrees showing on the sea water temperature gauges now. That will definitely drive the summer bottom feeders onto the feed and deliver some substantial size specimens for the table. Some question as to where the summer pelagics (mackerel, bluefish, little tunny, small sharks) stand at the moment in invading our waters. Rumor has it that they are thick in the waters south of Cape Romano (and not here) which is unusual. That may all change in the uptick in water temperature. Other conditions are moving slowly to summer routine……the spring afternoon winds are beginning to ease just a tad; the t-storms and general rain is still scattered now at it’s mild late spring daily delivery level and, as mentioned the water temp is inching up. Let’s “stay the course” and weather conditions may settle down and surprise us in the near term weeks ahead. Finally, the tides will be heading to full moon late week with PM outgoing almost double the speed of the morning incoming.

BACKWATER: Sure sign of summer fishing is the emergence of nice 12-13″ mangrove snapper showing along the shoreline edges. For the first time last week we had nice action along the edges of Sea Oat Island and Johnson Bay creeks working small whole shrimp either on a lindy rig or on a one-quarter oz jig head tight to shallow current points. With one interesting note…..the bigger fish showed during the last and first vestiges of either tide when the water slowed down. (More to the belief that big fish are lazy and work for food when the working “ain’t so tough”). Snook; some slots but most 20-23″ juveniles are picking up their activity level as the water temperature climbs to their comfort level. Being worked exclusively on live pilchards along the shallower current points on incoming tides and in the deeper creek cuts as the water starts out…..again on pilchards worked close to the bottom. Even though mackerel and bluefish are yet among the pelagic “missing”, the pompano are showing sporadically when the water is gin clear. Best for them is Hurricane Pass; first and last hours of either tide on tipped small jigs or plain lindy rigs worked “walleye style” just off the bottom.

NEARSHORE: As the water stabilizes this week, would look for some weak action for pelagics that are working the schools of bait on the Capri Pass barges. Weak because it will probably be singular strikes vice a melee of a fish on every two minutes. Best technique is to set anchor up tide and work flashy tipped jigs right up on the surface under a strong chum slick. Try to stay on or near the surface with a fast retrieve of your jig working just above the falling chum….that way you’ll avoid the legions of pesky blue runners that are stacked up like cordwood working the falling chum bits. Would recommend a larger fresh cut bait soaking on the bottom under the chum on a major rig…this warm water will draw sharks and you just “never know”. Bottom fishing nearshore is best on the Walton Reef just off Caxambas Pass and the legendary Five Mile Reef. Work both spots with chum and rigs worked from mid depths to the bottom. Hopefully, you’ll run into some ravenous snapper.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               OFFSHORE: Conditions moving towards our famous summer playground out here. As the water heats up, the hordes of bait move in and attract the migrating pelagics especially on the deeper wrecks. Look for kingfish well over 20# marauding on or cruising between the wreck sites and feeding heavily……best attractant would be a live blue runner strung on intermediate weight wire leader soaking under chum. Cobia will show on same wrecks a tad later, drawn by the chum and commotion…..the will appear on the surface and can be enticed to take a freelined threadfin cast right in front of them as they survey the scene. Super deep wrecks can be holding amberjack which are a great catch working most any live bait vertically right into the wreck structure. The AJ’s are closed to harvest from late April to year end but……work ’em for the action and careful release. You won’t forget their struggle.