Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

October 27 2017 to November 2nd 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Each week sees improvement in conditions as left to us by the hurricane. And, expectedly, as the seasons move along that improvement is enhanced by the change in seasons…….lower air temps which drive lower water temps; mix of fish change as they sense the cooler weather. The winter species begin to show……still a bit smaller than they will be in the pure winter months but definitely larger than in the screaming heat of summer hereabouts. So change is in the air and we are heading into a different, and in many ways a better, fishing season. This coming week will see morning air temperatures in the low sixties (WOW) which is turn will lower the water temps. Would guess by week end will see the water in the 74 to 76 degree range. But not all is good…..with that variation you’ll see winds kick up in velocity and afternoons will have gusts in the middle to high teens. That may roughen up the water and add a little more tannic clouding so the water, instead of being green is a coffee brown……still relatively clean but will throw the fish off their bite. The tides are moderate all week and heading to a full moon late week. They will pretty even both ways and fishable.

BACKWATER: Most evident change is that you will see some bigger winter species now…….not lunkers but a better than even chance for some take homes. The two species that become winter dominant here are the sheepshead and the black drum in the backwaters. These are both bottom feeders…..we will also see pelagic action especially in all the Passes (Capri, Caxambas and Hurricane) for Spanish mackerel and pompano as primary food targets and ladyfish, jacks and as “funners”. There will still be some of the summer favorites…the mangrove snapper hanging around but they will fade quickly as the water temperature chills down. If this winter plays out like most others the most dominant fish will be the sheepshead. At peak season it’s not unusual to land a 16 to 18” specimen that will provide a real tussle and a great meal. Technique is super important on these bait stealers. Here’s a quick primer: Best bait is just a tad of shrimp (give‘em a big whole shrimp they’ll take the part without the hook) or a piece of cut crab. Use a lindy rig and drop it vertically to the bottom. Then systematically lift the weight just a few inched repeatedly …..if you feel a tap do not try to set….just lift the line until you feel weight and then give it a compact (6-9”) set…..the sheepshead will be on.

NEARSHORE: The weather could impact here this week, particularly the wind. Doesn’t take long in shallower water to get a rough condition sea conditions going. Would think there is a better chance here than in the backwater for surface pelagic action on mackerel and other pelagics all along the first and second reefs as well as well as the inshore reefs such as the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass. Technique is to cruise the area with the Fathometer on full sensitivity and drop a marker where you see assembled bait schools. Anchor upstream and get some chum in the water prior to begin working flashy tip jigs up tight to the surface……you’ll know pretty quickly whether you’ve got a action event. You might even drop some tipped weighted jigs down to the bottom. Always a chance that the bottom feeders are working the shredded bait from the pelagics. OFFSHORE: Ditto on concern for sea conditions out here. There is a couple periods forecasting T-storm action this week and you’ll want to be vigilant……most times you can’t outrun one of these thunder bangers. Target out here now should be focused on grouper action. Cool down (moderately) should activate the red grouper and have then inching eastward. The gag grouper will stay active and mobile just above the bottom structure the reds will stay tight to same. Reds on live pinfish / cut ladyfish tight to the outcroppings. The gags 10-15’ off the bottom and can even be had with a trolled live bait off a downrigger.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

October 20th to October 26 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Time is a great healer…….and as these weeks roll on we’re beginning to see the arrival of normalcy on our waters. Conditions as to water clarity / water temperature / tidal volume are sliding back to normal slowly but the million dollar question for anglers is “Do the fish recognize it ?”……still some question there……IRMA was quite disruptive for all living creatures. But this past week, we saw the arrival of hordes of baitfish and that alone is a signal that we’re moving back close to normal. With the food chain reconstructed, it won’t be long now for things to be early fall normal. This week look for typical fall conditions here. The storm deluges are tapering off with just a few forecasts of intermittent showers of short duration usually early or late in the days. The wind is generally quite tame with some periods late week where we could get a couple days of bothersome wind conditions…… forecasts before you buy your bait. Tides are coming off a new moon but are surprisingly mellow……..they will be moderate both ways . Water temp, unfortunately, is still running “summerish” at 82-84 degrees which, in turn, effects the activity of our fall species…….redfish, early season sheepshead etc.

BACKWATER: After a couple of trips this past week, it’s quite evident that things are moving to normal……..late summer normal instead of fall normal. Seeing scattered action on fall “normal” action on redfish / black drum / spec trout but it is not frequent or sustained. With the water temperature hanging in the mid eighties we’re still immersed in the summer action of mangrove snapper, small sheepshead etc. Disappointing. Water temperature will be the key……once we drop to consistent water temps in the mid 70’s, fall fishing will turn onboard. But there is still some good fishing to be had as we ease out of a tough summer. Mangrove snapper are, by far, the most active and attractive target right now. They are now of sufficient size that there is a good chance you and your party could limit out with just a few hours effort. They will be feeding on the returning live bait along most of the shorelines with the best activity periods an hour on either side of the slack tide. There certainly are other species around such as early season redfish that are better worked in cooler temperatures as well as the fall / winter favorites of black drum and sheepshead……..but the peak season on those species arrives as the water temperature tumbles.

NEARSHORE: Sea conditions will be excellent this week with the moderate tides and slackened winds. Would be looking for the fall action on mackerel and other pelagics to begin to show on spots like the Capri wrecks and barges and the formidable reef structures like the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the Five Mile Reef complex. Out here the major encouragement is to “follow the bait”. Move into an area with bottom structure with the Fathometer on high and look for the masses of bait showing as solid black blobs……..drop a marker and double back to anchor upstream of the tidal flow and get some chum going right away. Pelagics (mackerel / bluefish) will be up close to the surface, so work top water jigs tipped with shrimp right over the chum slick. Good things are bound to happen.

OFFSHORE: Sea conditions out here will be akin to the nice flat conditions on the inside waters. Look for action on the mid range reefs generally SW of the island 8-12 mile range on good size late summer snapper, both mangrove and lane, holding and feeding on the ample bait supply out here. Work a weighted jig tipped with shrimp or cut bait right to the bottom in a good chum effort. May even see some early season lunker sheepshead in the mix now on these reefs. Go deep hard bottom (60-65’) for chance at some early winter season red grouper working a live pinfish or cut ladyfish tight to the bottom on a tide induced drift.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

October 13th to October 19 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: We’re beginning to see the light at the other end of the tunnel………unforgettably named IRMA. Landside conditions are still rough with a gazillion places under repair or in search of a contractor but, waterside, things are looking up. Now mind you, we still have the weather conditions that either plague or please us right in our face every day but those IRMA residuals of floating submerged debris, completely fouled water and water depth surprises are fading quickly. So on we go…..this coming week looks very typical early fall weather. It’s hard not to notice and luxuriate in the cool morning temperatures now with mornings showing up carrying a mid 70’s label but that never last – by mid morning you’re all lathered up in the humidity. Fishing goes right along with that….get that really early start and the fish are furiously feeding and as the sun reaches those mid-morning vertical penetrating rays they pull off for a morning nap. We’ll have those 70 degree starts all this coming week. The winds stay reasonable with lots of single digit blows that are mostly easterly (favorable) until late week and then get a quasi front through here and things kick up to the 20 knot variety but doesn’t last long. The tides are heading to a moderate new moon at week end – those mid morning incoming tides are a perfect compliment. And finally, look for the water temps to keep dipping just a tad at a time and we should be close to the high 70’s by week end.

BACKWATER: As conditions normalize you have to realize that you’re right in the middle of the best fishing of the year here in the widespread backwaters of Southwest Florida. The two top contenders for top species……snook and redfish are at their prime. The redfish all perked up following their spawning period and the snook storing up food for their winter solstice. We’ll take ‘em one at a time. The redfish are active as the water comes off superheat and are feeding heavily. Best spots to land one of these challenging fighters would be Rookery Bay’s Henderson Creek area working the last part of the incoming tide with a freelined shrimp strung under a popper. Same approach up at the top of Addison Bay in the cuts created by the oyster / clam farming efforts years back. They will be working the shallow edges and foraging along the mud bottoms late on that incoming. Snook will be in an entirely different domain. On that morning incoming work the current edges out in all three Passes using live bait (pilchards, pinfish, thread herring) freelined tight to current points. Once the current starts out get positioned on a creek / channel exit point and get your bait down just off the bottom. Both species are harvestable (redfish 18”27”) (snook 28”-33”) right now and are well worth the effort.

NEARSHORE: With the wind predicted mild this week, should have good sea surface conditions and clean water out here. Good chance that the pelagic bait schools (mackerel, bluefish, et al ) now see things normalized and will be on the feed. Would run in 20-25’ water along the first and second reef spots with the fishfinder on high power……find the balls of bait and the pelagic feeders will sure be there. Get some chum in the water as you anchor up and work tipped top water jigs up near the surface on a swift retrieve. You’ll want to slip a wire leader in front of the jig for both of those toothy species. Bottom action out here could best be found on the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass; the legendary Five. Mile Reef SW of the island or the John Dee wreck due west at 4.5 miles. Here you’ll have a ball with action on nice size lane and mangrove snapper as well as some small grouper. All on weighted jigs under chum.

OFFSHORE: Can expect even cleaner water and nice flat conditions until late week. Reports of some nice red grouper catches in 60+’ hard bottom due west of Capri Pass indicate the “herd” has started moving east in reaction to the falling water temperatures. You’ll want to work a live pinfish or cut ladyfish tight to the hard bottom on a tidal drift. Red grouper have a minimum harvest size of 20” and the limit is two per person daily. There will also be gag grouper in the mix and they can be worked just off the bottom or on a troll with a large jointed plug pulled 8-10’ off the bottom. Gags have a minimum harvest size of 24”. Conditions should be just about right for grouper action out here this week.

Capt Bill Walsh-Dawn Patrol

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

October 6th to October 12 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: What is becoming universally true is the the axiom “IRMA will be tough to forget throughout Southwest Florida. Marco Island took a major hit but those good neighbors south of us…….Goodland, Everglades City and Chokoloskee were devastated having lower geography and a more rural building structure level. The entire domain will be struggling with recovery for quite some time. And as we said last week it’s tough to get focused on a 20” redfish when your struggling to make basic like comforts available to your family. But these Floridans are stoic folks and they will endure and eventually “right the ship”. With that said we move on to thinking about the restoration in the months ahead. Our expected weather conditions then are important to examine both for the recovery for the populace and for the sport fishing environment. This coming week we see most days laced with periodic storm conditions……..most predictions are scattered storms both early morning and then reappearing late afternoon. The air temperatures are continuing to tail off slowly – expect morning temperatures to be “refreshing” mid 70’s with low humidity but then steadily climbing to mid 80’s by mid afternoon – still hot but no more “real feels” tickling 100 degrees. Water temperature will cool off very slowly with maybe a low 80 degrees by late week. But, you can tell fall is here with the reappearance of wind as a crucial factor. Forecasts late week have periods do steady variable direction winds with steady breezes in the low teens but gusts in the PM that exceed twenty knots. Last but not least the tides will have a stronger morning incoming and a moderate to weak afternoon / evening outgoing.

BACKWATER: From the fishing reports trickling in, it appears we are slowly moving back to normal. Live shrimp bait is being delivered daily and a handful of the charter boats are getting back into action. There is still a tone of caution however as you start back into was watery domains that you knew like the back of your hand……..strong currents have changed bottom topography and downed trees have altered the once familiar right-of-ways. The caution then is set a lookout, slow down and watch the Fathometer…..grounding or taking a submerged tree or 2×4 will ruin you’re boats day and your fishing trip. As for the fishing beginning to get some fair to good initial reports of action in the backwaters and surprisingly occurring at heretofore non-fishing spots. For example, the run up the ICW towards Rookery Bay has been showing some surprising action on redfish along the shallow east edges of West Johnson Island (check your chart) on the incoming tide working shrimp under a popper. Also heard that the very popular edges of Sea Oat and Cannon Island up near Hurricane Pass have lots of bottom changes with additional downed trees and brush…….but the action on snapper, small snook and redfish has a been good to very good on the incoming tide.

NEARSHORE: The water was clearing nicely late last week here but the rough wind mid week and that expected this coming week could put the kibosh to that especially out away from the sheltering beachfront. The latter will quiet the sea conditions as the wind gusts in from the east. The first and second reefs should hold returning bait schools drawing mackerel and bluefish (hopefully). You’ll want to give the topwaters a try with a flashy tipped jig pulled under a good chum effort. Bottom fishing should hol lots of retreating snapper and grouper working a tipped weighted jig pulled just off the bottom in the same chum slick.

OFFSHORE: Ditto out here on sea conditions and wind……..this is fall and those conditions are part of the fall weather fabric…….so learn to pick those right days and times to make the deep run. Bait is filing back into the reefs and the kings are following with the water still holding warm. Work a live runner on wire under a float and in a chum slick for best action close in to the structure. Don’t have any reports on the red grouper movement this past week but would surmise with the cool down they will start the exodus east for the winter season. Try 60’ hard bottom with a live pinfish tight to the bottom on a tidal drift to test for action.