Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

January 26th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Another placid week……stays warm temperature wise but with another few days of bothersome wind. All along,  we’ve said that a dead ringer duplication of 2017 of “too warm” will damage the long awaited true winter fishing back here…..especially here. Water temperatures now scratching 69 –  70 degrees just “ain’t“ going to do it. Sheepshead, black drum and sizable spec trout all move to their ritual spawn when the water holds ten degrees cooler in late January and early February. By early to mid March….there is no more winter here……just spring weather fronts and heated conditions. Great for the bikers and the snow bird walkers but anathema for the angler. Let’s hope the pattern in early February takes a turn in the anglers direction. On the other weather fronts the tides are moving to a full moon with a supercharged morning incoming with many days in excess of a 3.5’ range. A little more moderate PM outgoing that should be workable For the most part the day’s air temperatures start in the mid 60’s and finish up tickling the mid 70’s.

BACKWATER: Think the fishing back here will be hit or miss this week……Fortunate enough to hit a spot where bait is assembled and the tide speed is reasonable; then you should do well. The killer will be that roaring early morning incoming tide. Would highly recommend that you plan your action for the last hour of the incoming and the first hour and a half of the more reasonable late morning ebb tide…..and work spots that show vestiges of surface bait action. You could run into most anything in those time frames with the best chances on spawner sheepshead, black drum and even a spec trout or two. Now, the water should be relatively clean early week and there are whiting and silver trout active just off the beaches up around Sand Dollar Island and along the outside edges of Hideaway Beach. They will be there on either tide and jumping on a small shrimp tipped jig head wiggled across the bottom. And then in the deeper backwaters ……Johnson Bay……Upper Addison bay in late morning cresting tides working the shallower edges could turn up a juvenile snook or even a concealed redfish feeding tight to the mangrove overhangs. Best attractant here would be a whole lively shrimp freelined tight to the overhangs in the waning tidal flow.

NEARSHORE: Many times, think fish think like us. If you were a fish seeking cooler water, you’d probably make a beeline to deeper cooler water ala the nearshore reefs. Couple of quasi secretive reports indicate that is exactly what is happening. Best venue close in for this fishing espionage work would be the Walton Reef located just 1-2 miles NNW of the Caxambas Pass exit. This is a BIG reef with lots of depth and structure. (TIP….do not toss that anchor until you see flat bottom on the fisfinder) Some mornings you’ll see surface action (mackerel, runners and jacks) right up top…..get some chum in the water and work those flashy top water jigs rapidly in the surface water. Soon thereafter, switch over to the lindy, shrimp bit laden rig and get it tight to the bottom on a soft lift technique for sheepshead that have fled the backwaters for these cooler climes. As you work the bottom here, still have a good chance for some nice lane and mangrove snapper here as you work the lukewarm waters with tipped jigs under chum.

OFFSHORE: Good conditions offshore for most of the week……you’ll want to avoid those couple of days post weekend where we have some dandy winds that will be kicking up. But pick the right day; load up the fuel tanks and head west. Have glowing reports of grouper action up to forty miles out on 70+ water depths working live pinfish / cut ladyfish tight to the bottom. The water is chilled down out this far and sparkly clean. Anchor, even on just a rough bottom out here would do the trick on both the red and some gag grouper action. If you pinpoint a wreck out this deep, it will surely harbor yellowtail snapper which are a delight to catch and even better on the table. A starting chum slick will wake the “flags” up and then feeding them bits of the chum itself freelined into the chum slick will get ‘em going. Tip: Leave bail open…..they will take but not swallow bait for the first 5-10 seconds…then slam the bail shut and hang on with an moderate drag set. Fun ! and even better on the table.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

January 12th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: As we slide into this second weekend of the New Year and it gets a tad warmer, don’t be dissuaded with the token weather respite…..we have more cold and wind headed our way post weekend that will chill us back down and slow the lunge to the water by our anglers. Weekend will be pleasant then cold temperatures and riled water forecast for three days. As you probably guessed the steady dose of cold has plummeted the water temp. At early morning a couple of days back, we recorded a water temp that varied between 58 and 60. That’s in contrast a couple weeks back when we were in the balmy high 60’s that stretched to just over 70. Winds will be an issue also as we chill down post weekend……look for NE winds in the teens with gusts well into the 20’s. The tides are heading to a new moon late week and have moderately strong morning incoming and a weak early afternoon outgoing.

BACKWATER: We talked last week about the possibility that those 50 degree water temperatures could trigger the spawning migration of the mature sheepshead…….well, sorry to say that didn’t happen. On two trips this past week, it was the same old, same old aggressive sheepshead runts. Good way to empty your bait well but not much heading to the table. But that’s fishing………we did see some nice take home spec trout up along the Keeywadin docks and the edges of Sea Oat island on the eastern edges of Hurricane Pass. They fell for touts tipped with shrimp and worked in the 4-6’ bottom creases where they is some remaining seagrass bottom. And while trying some of those deeper depressions for sheepshead we did latch on to a couple smaller black drum that jumped on the cut shrimp intended for the absentee sheepshead. Your other cold water opportunity will be on silver trout and whiting…….just off the beaches where there is good water flow….. the outgoing tide seems to top the incoming for action on these two specie

NEARSHORE: Watch the wind early week, it will kick up some strenuous sea conditions. Morning incoming late week should be ideal for set up at the Walton Reef just off Caxambas working the bottom for (hopefully) sheepshead of size not ready to take the plunge inshore just yet. This reef LARGE and holds all kinds of bait which in turn draw your targets…..lane and mangrove snapper / sheepshead (again, hopefully) gag grouper (live bait worked 10-15’ above the bottom structure as well as triggerfish, trout and an occasional whiting and sea trout. The morning incoming tide will be the stronger of the two and that should line up with fairly reasonable sea conditions. Don’t neglect those large reefs off the Marriott that can hold action even in poor conditions.

OFFSHORE: Ditto on keeping an eye out on developing conditions early week. Need a fairly long run (20+ miles) due west and honing in on hard bottom patches for potential red grouper action. And you may need to inch a little further west to get sustained big grouper action. For reds, the technique is to soak a live pinfish or cut ladyfish tight to the bottom outcroppings on a tidal propelled drift. Keep the drag tight to prevent the red from nailing your bait and then heading back into their lair and cut you off. Closer in wrecks and some reefs for nice size yellowtail snapper that will school up in a nicely maintained chum effort. Slip a tad of the chum on a #6 small hook and freeline the offering right into the slick. Yellowtail hit like a ton of bricks and run before swallowing the bait. So keep the bail open for 15-20 seconds then flip it down and hang on.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

January 5th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: While the midsection of the country froze to death over the New Year it was rather pleasant here until NOW. That front that passed through a couple of afternoons back it going to have us playing make up COLD here this week. Expect to see morning temperatures this week in the low 40’s and then inching up late afternoons to the low 60’s….and then as the cold spell passes on, look out for gusty winds that will rock and roll waters through late week. Will be, overall, a tough week of fishing conditions that will take some effort and precise scheduling to hit the water at the right time. You can look for the water temperature to tank late week and gradually recover in the remainder of the week. At it’s low point the water temp should drop to the low 60’s and then gradually inch back up to the upper 60’s by week end. But watch out for water clarity issues…those late afternoon westerly winds will quickly turn the water to Starbucks caffe latte.

BACKWATER: But in all this cold water mayhem this week there may be a silver lining…….in some years past, the sudden drop in the water temperature (as expected this week) will suddenly trigger the pent-up spawning sheepshead action to take action and they will stream inshore to do their thing. So, hope springs eternal, and just maybe we’ll get a late Christmas gift. If so, work those deeper spots along the Marco River / Collier Creek and onward along the northbound ICW for sheepshead action, that may now include a parcel of these good eating fish that you can take home. Technique (as repeated) is with a small tad of fresh shrimp on a small hook work a bait vertically on a soft lift technique…..feel the nudge and lift, setting the hook on the lift and crank ‘em aboard. Other action has been showing increasing activity on spec trout along the edges of the ICW’s Calhoun Channel in 4-6’ of water over seagrass with best on incoming tide working a small tipped jig or a whole medium size shrimp under a popper on a drift over seagrass beds. Trout have to be a minimum of 15” O for harvest and with a upper limit of 20”. Black drum also are starting to show in more frequency. Looks like the sheepshead with silver and black vertical stripes but with no teeth and a distinctively different dorsal fin. Great fight and size / cousin of the redfish (red drum) / great table fare blackened. They will show in the same waters and conditions as the sheepshead.

NEARSHORE: Watch mid to late week sea conditions. If viable, working those first and second reef lines off the beaches can produce some of those size desireable sheepshead making the move inshore but holding on cool water reefs nearshore. Work them with the vertical lift technique with a tad of shrimp or cut crab as their enticement. Hopefully there will be size there this “cool down” coming week. Other activity in this venue will be early morning action on pelagics racing through the near offshore bait lines of sardines/ threadfins and falling for your well presented tipped top water jig worked in chum. Good shot here for some mackerel and bluefish early morning.

OFFSHORE: Just keep an eye on conditions this week. Rough seas aren’t the answer for good fishing. Early or late week should be the targets when the the tough conditions abate. Deep (65-70’) hard bottom should be a productive arena for red and some gag grouper. Reds will be tight to the bottom structure and jumping on a live pinfish or cut ladyfish strips worked close to the bottom outcroppings on a tide inducted western drift. Need stout tackle with drags set tight to prevent the reds from ducking back into their favorite lair after being hooked. Gag grouper will off off the bottom by 10-15’ and working the higher reef surfaces. Can use the same bait bit keep them moving in the higher current flow. A little closer in, on the wrecks and artificial reefs, there has been some significant yellowtail snapper action even as the water chills down. Set up on wreck / reef and work chum first and then deploy small tads of chum freelined on #6 hooks into the slick with the bail open. Yellowtail will take bait and run…..wait and close the bait and set. Great fight and better table fare.