Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

July 28 to August 3rd Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Hope springs eternal……the forecasts show some diminishment of storm activity this coming week. Somehow we’ve got to outlast the incessant storm/rain pattern we’ve been immersed in the last two months…….need to get that water back to a “green” color; we’ve had enough of the “run off” tannic brown. We’ll see……as the week unfolds. As mentioned, the water will retain that mangrove tree stain that definitely taints the water quality back here until we get a major hiatus of the daily downpour problem. Other than the torrential rain problem, most of the other condition factors are showing positive; the wind will be a non-existent this week with the only issue being the wind blasts we get in the center of the storms. The tide are favorable with good water movement but not the racing 4’ tides we have seen over the past few weeks. The water temperatures will range from 86-90 this week depending on where you fish. Best sage advice however continues to be GO EARLY.

BACKWATER: Still have good action early on the warm-water-loving snook. Will require you to get out the net and scoop up a cooler full of pilchards / sardines et al……that is like M&M’s to the snook. Work the Passes (Capri / Caxambas / Hurricane) on the early morning outgoing. Look for the shallow edges where the current is running strong. Free line the live bait into the same area where you just provided a bait shower to excite the snook. They, unfortunately, are still out of season….so please use circle hooks to lessen the impact on the release of the snook. Redfish are still around but a bit lethargic in the extreme heat and super picky on feeding. But those early hours of the outgoing in the deeper exit cuts from the bays may have them feeding in the deeper water.  Charts will show you the deeper exit cuts from the best bays (Rookery, Johnson and Upper Addison). Work a bigger shrimp freelined just off the bottom….they should be feeding in the cooler bottom water and you may get lucky. However, the prime attraction now is the mangrove snapper. They love the heat and feeding on the huge bait schools that thrive in the steaming hot water. They are just about everywhere and most maddeningly too small for harvest. So you’re quest is for the bigger ones. Couple of rules / tips on that subject. Work spots with good current flow and downed structure in the last and first hour of either tide. Keep an eye on action along your shoreline edge…….if you see bait ripples on the surface and birds working the outflow will gauge you a great start.

NEARSHORE: Action here best in the stronger periods of the tide i.e. Morning sunrise and late afternoon. First and second reefs areas for good bottom action on lane and mangrove snapper with a weighted jig tipped with shrimp worked to the bottom under a bit of chum. The latter ingredient will also entice a bite from the smaller sharks that are working those reefs. You can hook some fresh cut bait on a wire leaded hook worked off a major rig for some exciting action on sharks that are very active now in the extreme heat.

OFFSHORE: Water out here is finally nice and clean and conducive to some hot action on feeding pelagics working the wrecks and reefs at the mid range depths . Suggest you target king mackerel (Kingfish) which are very active right now. Will need to capture a live blue runner (rather easy) and string it out on a major wire leader rig and set it out at a 15-20’ depth under a balloon float. Suggest you tease the bite with a block of chum feeding into the current. Strike will be ferocious and the fight will be terrific. Elsewhere the red grouper action has moved deeper in the hot water but still a good chance of a take home. Look for that action now in 60+ depths working a live pinfish tight to the bottom on a drift.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

July 21 to July 27th Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: It just keeps on raining…….morning, noon and night. Feels like we’re immersed in a tropical rain forest. For us anglers, all that fresh water, in addition to sending us scurrying for shelter, continues to stain most of the backwaters brown tannic and in addition depresses the salinity level dramatically…….two features that are definitely not positive factors. Going through the forecast from Accuweather for this coming week, can’t really say that we’re going to see any improvement in at least those two negative conditions. Tough to rely on forecasts built on conditions that can change hour to hour. So we have to make the best of what we’ve got. MAXIMIZE YOUR POSITIVES:….Get on the water early both to give you the coolest conditions of the day and give the fish a early AM holiday from the penetrating rays of the blistering sun……fish the right tides especially this coming week. Starting on the weekend we’ll have new moon tides that will feature outgoing afternoon tides running wild with over a four foot drop in water level in a six hour tide. So again, the early morning will be best wherever you’re fishing backwater or offshore. And finally, target fish that are warm/hot water active like snook, snapper, speckled trout, whiting. Back to the general conditions: the winds will be very mild overall with some surge in velocity / intensity mixed in the storms. The water temp on deeper cuts and channels will range 86-88 and the shallow water temperatures will be tickling 90 degrees all week.

BACKWATER: Will take some continued perseverance and patience working the backwaters from the far reach cuts and crannies right down to the coastal channels. The pluses will be the moderate winds and the favorable morning incoming tides; the negatives will be a tannic water with murky areas; the water temp running as high as 90 degrees and the changing salinity levels with the fresh water intrusion. Snook, thankfully, is a warm water fish and continues to stay active an showing in reasonably good numbers all along the backwater current points from coastal edges well into the far reach backwaters. They’ll go for shrimp freelined but with all the bait around, it’s probably a better bet to net up a baitwell full of pilchards / sardines and use them freelined tight to those current eddies. And with a ample supply of live bait, you’ll have a chance to throw a shower of bait precedent to you bait cast. Good spots are Upper Addison last hour incoming tide / Johnson Bay creeks on corners with faster current / Henderson Creek in Rookery Bay and if you’re headed south try Blind Pass just north of the tip of Cape Romano on Kice Island. The other go-to target now is the mangrove snapper which are hanging out most everywhere along the shoreline edges where there’s downed structure and moving water. The “snaps” are take home size now and will jump on even a small piece of shrimp presented in the current flow.

NEARSHORE: The water is definitely a bit less tannic out here and a bit cooler. Those factors have lured some of the backwater residents to the more favorable conditions…..plus there are massive schools of bait here balled up on bottom structure. Good spots are the Walton Reef just 1.4 miles NW of Caxambas Pass where in 25-30’ of water there has been deposited large amounts of hunks of structure. Early morning, this time of year on a strong incoming tide you’ll have a good chance at surface working pelagics. Species like Spanish mackerel, Bluefish, Little Tunny, Jacks and Blue Runners are thick in the morning cool and jumping on tipped jigs worked just over a descending chum slick. Good action on the pelagic gang here with reasonable table fare in the mackerel and bluefish. To round out the episode, drop a big cut bait on wire leader off a stout rod for either a blacktip or spinner shark or maybe even a Goliath Grouper                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         OFFSHORE: With storm conditions most likely to be afternoon / evening events, it’s another rallying cry for going early if you’re heading deep. Good action continues out here on the more distant wrecks that are holding enormous bait schools which is the panacea for feeding pelagics i.e. Kingfish, cobia, permit and sharks. Specific Lat / Lon for all these wrecks are available either online or as part of fishing charts available at the marina. Whatever spot you choose, you’ll need to “juice up” the water a bit with a chum effort before you get your baits in the water. Kingfish on live blue runners on wire leader; permit on freelined small crabs; sharks on large cut bait on heavy rig and tackle; cobia with live thread herring sightcast as the cobia arrive on the surface to check you out. Lots of opportunity out here…..just keep an eye on the weather to play it super safe.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

July 14 to July 20th Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Know the weather forecasters hereabouts do their darnedest to paint a favorable weather expectation for the summer residents and guests. Week after week there are days forecast within those weeks that provide “Great Expectation” of no storms / no roaring afternoon winds. But you know what……….it just doesn’t happen. Reality is that some time during every day we’re gonna get dumped on here. Rain and lots of it have been part of the rainy season fabric here forever. So be flexible on the timing of your coveted fishing excursion. Best bet is to get the crew up early (better chance of 4-5 storm free hours that are even a tad cooler). And, by the way, the fish are doing the same thing….they like the sunrise cool when the early morning rays are almost horizontal to the water’s surface. As soon as those scorching sunbeams begin to penetrate the depths, the bite stops. Period. Had two experiences this past week, at exactly the same time on two different days when the same thing happened. Like somebody threw a switch. So GO EARLY ! Elsewhere the tides this week you’d classify as moderate and building to a new moon next weekend. The morning outgoing a bit stronger that the PM ebb. If forecast hold true we should have another week with mild winds except in the swirls of the T-storms. The water cleanliness will depend upon the rain which scrub the mangrove roots sending the tannic color seaward. Finally the water temp should hold between 86-88 except in the shallow edges where a 90 degree number is not surprising.

BACKWATER: Still tough going here, especially without a specific plan that is constructed to meet the elements head on. Repeat: Go early; be on the water on or before 8:00 AM to meet the tidal conditions head on.  Get into those mangrove cuts and points that have good water flow and work the baits tight to the fauna edges. With the waters this hot already, even with some degree of tannic stain, the fish have got to feed to survive. There are mostly smaller snook on spots like Blind Pass in the cut at Kice Island (south of Marco) but every once in awhile you’ll latch onto true trophy snook that will take everything you got to get it boatside. Snook also are along the outside beach edges now that they’ve completed spawn and are staying marginally active. A nice full well of available pilchards will give you the opportunity to draw them with a nice bait shower to your hooked “swimmer”. Redfish, some sizable, are still plying the environs around shallow islands and oyster bars. Like south of the island on the back edges of Caxambas Pass or in the tidal creeks of Johnson and Rookery Bay. Work them with whole shrimp freelined tight to the mangrove shaded overhangs with best on the late afternoon (post rain showers) incoming.Mangrove snapper are now in full “bloom” and feeding voraciously all along the mangrove edges where there is downed structure. On small whole shrimp with best size available an hour or so on either side of slack water.

NEARSHORE: Fishing early is written in spades out here. Once those t-storms take a bearing on you……they are dangerous and hard to escape. Right close in to beaches in 10-15’ of surf tumbling bait, the snook will be there as opportunists jumping on what looks like food. Pilchards, pinfish or thread herring are listed at top of the preference chart for these guys who may be on the smallish size but will give you a blistering tussle. The reef areas……Capri Pass Barges / Walton Reef off Caxambas / Five Mile Marco Reef are all producing early (first light) in the morning cool on mackerel and a few bluefish. Later in the day, drop those baits to the bottom on weighted jigs under a moderate chum effort and work nice size lane and mangrove snapper…….both of which are the delicious makings of an evening’s fresh seafood repast.

OFFSHORE: The deeper wrecks due west of Marco that are identified on any number of available charts are producing the years’ best results on kingfish and cobia. You’ll need wrecks sitting in water 55-60’ deep and going west (deeper). Live bait is the ticket for both of these pelagic prizes; a live runner on wire worked in a heavy chum slick will bring the kingfish running and just sit tight on the cobia for they will come to you. Just have a live bait all rigged and ready to surface cast to the large and curious cobia. Major tackle, please. These guys don’t give up without a Herculean fight.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

July 7 to July 13th Fishing Report

CONDITIONS:  Get ready for another week of extreme heat with many afternoons topping the 105 temperature mark for “real feel”. But, it just may be that we’ll see a diminishment of the torrential and frequent rain storms ……which is turn would be a blessing for those tormented by the mosquito attacks especially in the Marco backwaters. Not much you can do to stave off these skeeters. Can try to lather up with a deet compounded lotion and stay in the maximum amount of breeze you can find. The tides are going through one of their new moon tide cycles starting Sunday and you’ll have morning incoming tides of moderate strength and range with the afternoon ebb tides quite a bit stronger. PM ranges will be in the 3.0 foot range. Those bothersome winds will hold off and we’ll see lighter winds on the 5-8 knot range with gusts in the afternoon to double that strength. Finally, with the winds holding off and the temperatures holding look for the water temperature to finally clip the 90 degree mark. Not good for the fish or for you…….for the fishing; go early. For you: quit early for the fish will be doing the same.

BACKWATER: Unfortunately, still a bit of a “go” here. The heated water and unusual year we’ve been having on the “briny” especially in the backwater environs just isn’t going away. But good planning and timing may be able to save the day for you. As far as the planning goes…..need to put parameters on your targets and your tools. For targets……forget the long shots and head for the best available. Right now the best “big game” availables are easily identified as the famous snook. They love the heat and stay super active in the faster currents. But they are all catch and release until the fall weather descends on us. They are feeding heavily where there are bait schools packed in the edges of the fast moving tides. They will jump on a freelined pilchard or small thread herring presented in a arena of faster moving water just off a shallow edge or bar. Great fight for even the smaller fish but still a challenge on light test line. All to be released now and best release is off a circle hook. The best available take home catch now is the mangrove snapper. Numerous and quite active on the bite, they are “bread and butter” for the take home angler this time of year. Have caught them on just about every mangrove edge and overhang working nothing more than a half fresh shrimp worked into the moving water of either tide. Best venues, might be Rookery Bay’s Henderson Creek and Johnson’s Bay’s labyrinth of wandering creek edges. Bait is simple: half a fresh shrimp usually does the trick. You’ll want to work those faster tides tight to shaded overhangs on either tide where the water shows as moving.

NEARSHORE: Conditions here this week should be top drawer. Nice clean water; running quickly and drawing bait schools will be the ticket for some good action out here. Pelagics i.e. mackerel and bluefish should be your targets and hopefully they will cooperate. Look for bird action or surface bait eruptions as you enter the artificial reef domains. If evident, work small tipped surface jigs on a fast retrieve after you’ve “salted” the waters a good chum effort. If and when they arrive, keep the chum slick going to hold the action. Beneath all that surface endeavor, the bottom fish will take note of the cascading chum and show up as bottom action on both lane and mangrove snapper as well as triggerfish and grunts et al.

OFFSHORE: Quite a bit so activity will be sustained out here with the pelagics working the enormous bait schools on the major wrecks and reefs.  Most dominant of the group will be the king mackerel (kingfish) working the food clustered on the major spots. Best approach for these tough fighters is working a live blue runner on wire leader some 15′ under the boat in a heavy chum effort on major tackle. After an immense strike you will be consumed in a struggle with these valiant fighters. Your choice    to box or release. Kingfish fish filets smoked are quite a delicacy. Other action deep still is focused on the perennial red grouper who is the mainstay on the deeper (60-70′) hard bottom falling for a live pinfish worked tight to hard bottom on a tidal drift.