Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 23rd 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: The extraordinary warmth will continue this week. Mornings will start with air temps tickling 70 and end the day in the mid-eighties. Wow !. That pattern has a good chance to move the water temp now hovering in the 76-77 degree range right into the 80’s. Double Wow! That will definitely effect our fishing in all sectors. Forecasts show a very stable week with consistent nice days…..no storms, fronts or rain. Even the wind will be consistent with light breeze in the mornings that kicks up late morning and gives us 10-15 knots out of the southwest. That hasn’t been a problem albeit roughs up the water a tad. The tides will be a factor however this week…..early week the the morning outgoing will be virtually non-existent with the afternoon incoming not much better. Late week will show some improved tidal volume and better fishing. Tip: fish post weekend!

BACKWATER: Most of the emphasis this time of year has been the sheepshead fishing both for residents and seasonal visitors. Overall the event has been a disappointment from the feedback we get. On a few days we saw sizable sheepshead mixed in with tons of shorts but most days we saw bait supply depleting shorts in the backwaters. And with the highly unusual water warmth now upon us late February, would have to predict that this is about the final curtain on sheepshead for 2017-2018. But all is not lost. Have begun to see some sizable mangrove snapper showing in the bait rich backwater edges and pompano beginning to show in the spring cleaner water in all three passes….Caxambas, Capri and Hurricane. Optimum possibility for getting action is in those first two hours of the incoming tides working that cleaner “emerald green” water streaming in from the Gulf. Tipped jigs or even simple shrimp lindy rigs worked just off the bottom should get you results if they are there. We are also seeing spec trout along the seagrass bottom patches along the ICW just north of the Isles of Capri along the Calhoun Channel working a whole shrimp under a popper on a drift in 4-6’ depth. All of this “diminished” winter we saw and caught nice size black drum in those cuts and deeper spots that usually hold sheepshead……well the drum are not temperature dependent and are still there. They take the same baits as sheephead and a nice 5# drum may save your day.

NEARSHORE: With no predicted storms / wind it should be nirvana out here this week. Those reefs just off the Marco coast still hold a great chance of holding retreating sheepshead action. Deeper water is cooler and to their liking. Need to set up on structure and work baits vertically with a soft lift technique (lift bait often 4-5”….feel tap…..lift softly 2-3”…..feel weight on rod….set hook with 12” short set). Spring warmth will bring the pelagic action to these inshore reefs first. Signs will be bird action working over stressed bait schools surfacing to escape the pelagics beneath. Two approaches: Anchor up and get some chum in the water and work tipped jigs on a fast retrieve right in the slick forming behind the boat OR stay mobile and troll a flashy spoon or tipped jig 100’ behind the boat working the perimeter of the bait eruptions at about 4-5 knots.

OFFSHORE: With sea conditions predicted as placid and no storms in the offing, this might be the week to go deep. Would concentrate on late week when the tide are more dominant. Still get reports of good ratios of keep to catch on red grouper on those deep hard bottom ranges 30-40 miles out. Be equipped with a number of live pinfish / sand perch to work tight to the bottom on weighted rigs on a tidal drift. Need heavy gear and keep the drag ratcheted down to hold your strike from tucking back into it’s lair and cutting you off. On the way out and back, good idea to set a couple of lookouts to scan the stone crab pot markers for sunning tripletail. Sighted; cut power; drift back and work a tipped dark colored jig tight to the pot right up on the surface.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 9th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Almost summer time warmth continues to creep in…….forecasted air temperatures this week ride between 63 and 68 in the mornings and the summer like afternoons check in at 74 to 82. That “ain’t” gonna do it for winter cold water species. Much too warm ! …..for the  fisherpeople but great for the northern snow birds enjoying the beaches, Too hot / too soon. There is just a smidgeon of rain in the forecast so we’ll have another dry week and the winds are fading too with mild morning forecasts with some kick up briefly in the afternoons….. should be nothing to worry about even if you head offshore. And finally, finishing out the unobtrusive weather / condition week the tides are weak both ways.

BACKWATER: Quite possibly be a tough go back here this week. Reports show that there are a few spawning big sheepshead back inside……but very few and on deep water spots with good forage. Most of that traditional winter species here will be undersized……unfortunately. Fun to catch and carefully release. Would suggest changing main focus off the sheepshead and focus on spec trout / whiting and silver trout / black drum  / mangrove snapper. The trout which are a good winter alternative are plentiful anywhere there is shallow water and a sea grass bottom. Try along the first reaches of the ICW just north of the Isles of Capri along a section named Calhoun Channel working along the 4-5’ deep mangrove edges with a shrimp on a light jig head worked under a popper on a soft cast and retrieve. If your off one of the beaches; Sand Dollar/ Keeywadin or Tigertail try working a small tipped jig off the beach right to the bottom with just a slight amount of motion for both whiting and silver trout that hold in those 8-10’ depths. Both species fun to catch and no size limit and are very good table fare. The black drum will be hiding around those sheepshead spots and jumping on a cut crab or piece of shrimp. Mangrove snapper will be on the same spots with the same baits.

NEARSHORE: With mild temperatures and warm water inshore, might be a good idea try for some of the sheepshead action out here on the nearshore reefs. Water is deeper out here usually 20-25’ just a mile or two offshore on the inside reefs. Set up on defined structure and either drop some cut bait to the bottom on work a deep set chum bag for just  10 minutes or so and then get your lindy rigs loaded with shrimp or cut crabs tight to the bottom using a soft lift technique. After you feel the bump from the sheepshead raise the bait just 3\4” off the bottom and set the hook when you feel the weight. Good chance there could be other mid-season speciesout here also. Look for lane snapper, triggerfish or trout all going for the same bait and attracted by the initial chum effort.

OFFSHORE: With the wind generally down especially in the morning hours might want to make that touted long range run offshore. We’re talking a run due west from Capri Pass in the range of 30-35 miles. You’ll want to watch your bottom machine for signs of hard bottom that attracts and holds red grouper. Take a few minutes before you leave the first reef area and “gold hook” some pinfish which are preferred grouper bait. If you can get ahold of some ladyfish they also are a good alternative grouper bait. Once on your spot, get the bait tight to the bottom outcroppings and set up a tidal drift. A tip…..keep the drag tight on your reel….red grouper will head back to their lair as soon as they feel the hook and you’ll lose them as well as your tackle. Also, on the long run out and back, keep your eyes on the stone crab trap markers ….they are a hangout spot for tripletail, (a great fight and a delicacy on the table). The tripletail will usually be laying flat on the surface sunning and will go after a tipped jig moved slowly .

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 2nd 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Weather is getting downright boring……here we have another mid-winter week with mild temperatures and zero fronts and associated wind and storms predicted. Morning air temps will hover between 58 and 66 and by late afternoon you’ll think it’s mid May with high 70’s in full sunshine. Great for tourism but tough on the “winter” fishing here. With that as a backdrop expect the water temperatures to hold a couple degrees on either side of 70 degrees. That is probably ten degrees higher than normal for this time of year. Will definitely effect the presence as well as the feeding aggressiveness of our winter species. Another plus is a week of mild and non-gusty winds which will keep the water flat and clean. Tides are coming off an early week high tide with a fast moving morning incoming and finishing the day with a much weaker ebb tide.

BACKWATER: Interesting situation developing back here. Question is ….How long will the winter species hold off commencing their spawning cycle as the water continues to be unseasonably warm. On a couple trips last week when we had that “morning chill” air temperature drop, we saw our first spawn size sheepshead in an aggressive feeding mode. Whether that continues, especially in this much warmer week remains to be seen. Certainly possible that the sheepshead, which is our winter target fish especially for our seasonal visitors, will hold off the big bite until a windier and cooler February. In the meantime in the backwaters, all is not lost……a great alternative to the sheepshead is the black drum……a cousin to the redfish, they are considerably larger; deliver a great fight and are fantastic table fare……think blackened redfish. They will feed on the same structure as the sheepshead and take the same baits. But seem to like their shrimp morsel presented on a jig head moved ever to slowly across the structure bottom. And don’t neglect the fact that the lack of raucous wind this coming week will keep the water gin clear which is a key factor in targeting the legendary Florida Pompano. Best will be in the Passes at either end of both tides working a small tipped jig to the bottom on a tidal drift.

NEARSHORE: Experience shows that fish are adaptable creatures and if feeding is a problem in one domain……they will choose another. Think a lot of that is going on right now in our nearshore reef areas. Multiple reports of good to very good sheepshead action on the legendary Marco Five Mile Reef as well as the smaller structure spots along the first and second reefs. Cooler water and abundance of “food” there is the draw. Reefs are well marked on TOP SPOT Fishing Charts and are relatively close inshore and easily accessible. You can well run into nice lane snapper and even a grouper or two on these spots but you might want to concentrate on the prime winter target….the sheepshead. A tad of shrimp or cut crab on a lindy rig dropped vertically to the bottom and worked on a soft lift technique should get you some hot action……hopefully on bigger, keepable fish

OFFSHORE: Unless something weather wise jumps up, this should be one of the best weeks of the young year comfort wise out here. Water should be flat and clean. Those reports we get from those “biting the bullet” and making that long 30-35 mile trip offshore are crammed full of great experiences on big fish. Grouper, both red and gag are at the top of the most sought after list. Loaded up with some live pinfish that you’ve gold hooked on the inshore reefs earlier, the action out deep holds great expectation…….either anchored up on structure or on a tidal drift. Work the pinfish with enough weight to hold the depth and the reel drag ratcheted down tight right into the bottom “stuff”. Red grouper will be tight to the bottom; gags will be working 10-15’ higher up in the water column. And to keep the crew entertained on the way out and back, set some lookouts to scan the waters around the stone crab pot markers for sunning tripletail……spot one; double back quietly and work a dark color tipped jig right up on the surface. Tripletail are a lesser known species but are one of the best on the table. Worth the effort.