Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

August 31th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Difficult to comprehend, but here we are some one week away from IRMA’S devastating visit to the Florida Peninsula and beyond last year …….and we have yet to have any tropical storm warnings or even long range evidence of any threats this year. Amazing ! And very well accepted. However our “weather devil” this year has been the fouled water amassed all along the SW Florida coastline. But, we are beginning to see lower air temperatures now as well as the “Real Feel” temperature levels all through our area and that is a solid indicator that we will soon see an abatement of the red tide effect…..that’s good for us folks down here circa Marco Island but for the folks adjacent to the polluted Lake Okeechobee releases, that pattern of afternoon torrential storms we are experiencing will exacerbate the water quality problem circa Sanibel and Fort Myers Beach. So, bottom line, our general water quality concerns here should start moving, rather quickly in a positive direction and give us some great fall fishing conditions here. This coming week will continue to deliver those brief but impactive T-storms most afternoons, so it’s important you keep an eye on the sky and move to shelter before those storm generated torrents descend on your afternoon. The wind will stay fairly placid with light easterly winds with some afternoon gusty periods especially associated with the T-storms. The tides are docile this week and should give you reasonable water flow both ways. Lastly, the general heat conditions are easing and we can predict a slight dip in water temps to the 85-86 range.

BACKWATER: This backwater domain will remain the toughest to deal with even as the water cleans up. Look for areas with evident good tidal water flow to give you best chance at unfouled water and good early fall action. With the snook season open, that species will be the primary target through these next couple of months. The bigger snook will be active early and late in the days and will be feeding in shallow drop-offs adjacent to deeper cuts. Bait of choice is pilchards or even top grade artificials like the Zara Spook worked dead center in the current flow. The slightly cooler conditions will also be triggering the annual redfish fall action. Good chance now that most of the “red” action will be on undersized puppy reds……suggest you anticipate that and employ circle hooks as you work those shaded mangrove edges at the last hour or so of the very favorable late afternoon high tides. Mangrove snapper, however, will continue to be the most active targets even as we move toward late summer conditions. Work the current fed mangrove edges with tipped weighted jigs or even try a whole shrimp worked on a 1/4 oz jig head.

NEARSHORE: As mentioned in prior reports……the effects of the fouled water generally dissipates as you move west. But recent experience has shown some current flow from up north has carried fouled water in a southwest direction and impacted our action at mid range depths. There has been good solid action on snapper, mackerel and other bottom dwellers in the one to four mile range and then it slows till you reach the offshore (10-12 miles) areas. So recommendations for this week, is to work the close in reefs and structure with tipped jigs worked over a good chum effort for the surface pelagics and weighted tipped jigs, again under chum, for the bottom dwellers. And don’t forget early morning or late evening action working live bait right tight to the beach breaker line for snook.

OFFSHORE: As described in the nearshore section, consider the starting point out here at about fifteen miles where you have the best chance for species that have exited to deeper waters to avoid the red tide / algae laden water. Look for good to excellent bottom action on lane and mangrove snapper working wrecks or bottom structure with weighted jigs under chum. But also be prepared for a visit from nearby pelagics aka mackerel, bluefish, little tunny as they sense the commotion and chummed waters. On the deeper wrecks, that are identified as holding bait schools, there continues to be good pelagic action on kings as well as associated pelagics i.e. barracuda and sharks that will tear into a tethered cut bait soaking in a chum slick. Super deep -60-70’ hard bottom for possible red grouper action working live bait tight to the irregular bottom on a tidal powered drift.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

August 24th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: The Gulf water conditions has become the topic “royal” nationwide now……can hardly grab a newscast or a newspaper without the mention of dangerous conditions and demised sea creatures being carted off all along the SW Florida coast. Makes it difficult or next to impossible to create a yearning to go fishing in negative.  circumstances like that……. but you know what !!!!!! For whatever reason whether it be tidal current or water depth uniqueness or adjacency to the endless Ten Thousand islands, we here on Marco can still catch healthy active fish in three different areas…the backwater, nearshore and super deep (15 plus miles due west). It’s a slower catch than normal but it’s a viable activity. Meanwhile, other areas of our coast, almost all located north and slightly northwest are inundated with all the negatives of the fouled and red tide saturated waters. Tough to understand why and how long the calamity will be sustained. But, here on Marco we’ll take what we get and be thankful. Other factors in our “conditions” this week…….weather will be a continuation of random late afternoon t-storms with dangerous lightning strikes and accelerated wind. Generally the winds will be light mornings with a little gusty periods just before dusk. The tides will be going through mild iteration of strength as we experience a mid-fall full moon……all tidal flow should be manageable. The water temps may dip just a tad as the overnight temps dip…..look for 86-87 shallow water temps.

BACKWATER: First rule for success back here is to find “clean water”. Most realistically, it will be where there is good tidal current flow; has both shallow water that tails off into deeper water just adjacent and you are able to sight 4-5’ into the water from the surface. Second rule is to see active bait and bird action. Can you see the surface ripples of bait schools working the surface?. Are there heron active of the water edges and are the black skimmers working the surface with jaws agape? Working live shrimp tight to downed timber with positive results to the noted water suitability criteria should gain results of primarily some good size late season mangrove snapper as well as some early season redfish (most yet undersize) as well as the ever present small snook. Clean water in the Passes could well turn up mackerel, pompano and jacks working the shrimp tipped to a jig head worked close to the bottom.

NEARSHORE: Again, as fashioned by the mysterious currents and water flows, the nearshore is sectored for fishing opportunity now. Inside 2-3 miles on the reefs and artificial spots, there is moderately good fishing. Early morning or nightfall for pelagics working the top waters with tipped jigs worked over chum. Likely to confront some scattered pelagic action is top (mackerel, bluefish and jacks). On the same spots a weighted jig worked just off the bottom will give you a chance at lane or mangrove snapper and maybe even a singular triggerfish or sea trout. Recent experience and reports from a myriad of charter folks indicates that the bite goes belly up from there out to eight to ten miles where, surprisingly, you will encounter an offshore expanse of dead fish floating on the surface. That indicates that the same current that decimated the inshore waters circa Sanibel and Fort Myers somehow swings southwest bypassing Naples and Marco inshore and does the same for the fish inhabiting that mid range depth off the coast. If you continue out to the fifteen mile area things change again……..see OFFSHORE below.

OFFSHORE: Based on contemporary reports suggest an offshore starting point at fifteen miles. The wrecks holding bait should have somewhat limited action on kings, cobia and bottom action on yellowtail snapper. “Somewhat limited” because of the proximity of fouled water. Offshore action should improve dramatically as you move west for both pelagic and bottom dwellers. Good chance that action will mount as you move to spots further west and southwest as the escape currents draw the schools away from the contaminated environment. That flight west will be temporary however ….all depends on what nature decides to do as the fall waters cool a bit and the fresh water (storms) intrusion on the Big Lake lessens.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

August 17th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: We here on Marco Island should consider ourselves “blessed” as far as the widely broadcast “red tide / algae” dilemma goes. Although the news has grabbed the effected area as total Southwest Florida, that is not exactly true. The major effected site is  the outflow of the Caloosahatchee River near Sanibel that spreads a little north and heavily south until it reaches the Collier County line and then it eases considerably. Bottom line we are still catching healthy fish here. Hopefully, we will see some abatement of the general water condition in the short term and ease the anxiety about the event. As to the weather conditions this week……should be more of the same. There are no major fronts in the forecast, just a continuation of the spotty t-storm pattern that can pop up anytime anywhere. Events can produce heavy downpours but dissipate in short order.  The winds will be unusually mild with morning easterly and afternoon westerly breezes. The tides will be mild both ways all week and the water temps will continue to percolate in the high 80’s.

BACKWATER: If you’re going to encounter fouled water conditions, this is the area most likely to give you trouble. But with a little time and patience, you can find areas of water that are “clean” and will provide the chance of good fishing action. First of all, avoid areas where there might be “floaters i.e. dead fish” and also water that is distinctly discolored. Find water that has a good current flow (either way) and has signs (dimples / splashes) of bait fish in the water and has birds either standing by to feed or on the active prowl like black skimmers working the area’s surface. Those signs, any or all, are positive and should provide an area to get some solid action. The primary fish available these days is the late summer mangrove snapper which is usually of small keeper size (10-12”). Work where there is bait and good current movement with either a lindy rig with live shrimp or a jig head with same attached. Be aware that if you begin working a spot where all the catch is undersized…move on. All that you can look for there is a empty bait bucket. Try a spot that adjoins a area of deeper water and work the drop offs with the same baits. Other species available now are mackerel, pompano, small permit and whiting…..most will go for the same rig used on the snapper.

NEARSHORE: The water flow pattern just off the coast will bring cleaner water as you move west. Still have a minimal effect of respiratory discomfort when the water is stirred but the fishing opportunities will not be effected as they are backwater. The reefs along the Marco shoreline should provide ample opportunity to get into some good action on both mangrove and lane snapper as well as an occasional triggerfish or sea trout. Here you’ll need to encourage their feeding with a good block chum effort and then work the water beneath the slick with weighted tipped jigs. Always a chance of something bigger lurking below so working a hunk of fresh cut bait on a wire rig tight to the bottom could bring you some exciting action on grouper and even some smaller sharks.

OFFSHORE: Hankering to get away totally from the effects of the fouled water ?…..then go deep. Wrecks and reefs are well marked on Fishing Hot Spot Charts (available at the Rose Marina store) and provide lots of opportunity for various species offshore. One of the premier spots is known as the “Towers” which are government towers that are used in military aircraft training that line the south edges of the Gulf. They, too are marked on the charts and uniquely are great places where Permit school to feed in the swirling tidal waters. You’ll need small live crabs for bait and stout tackle for it’s not unusual to have a 30# permit on the business end of your line trying to head elsewhere. Close by the the towers are other wrecks and reefs that are home to larger fish like kings, cobia and sharks as well as barracuda.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

August 10th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: As far as fishing in Southwest Florida right now, the best description might be “a time that tries men’s souls”. For this generation we are immersed in the worst conditions debacle that most can even remember. To have a ten month visit from the scorned red tide was bad enough but then the annual deluge of phosphorus and fertilizer laden algae from the Sugar Barons, made this a cataclysmic event. The unfortunate folks circa Sanibel through to Fort Myers Beach really got inundated (no need to draw pictures; the beach photos of frontloaders hauling dead fish was enough). A good friend mentioned “the only thing positive about this tragedy is that it was SO BAD AND SO PUBLICIZED that it may draw the hovering politicians to take action. Time will tell ! Now to the conditions this week……look for continued heat with scattered evening storms everywhere. The winds will be dominant from the EAST and SOUTH with some breezy afternoons early week……..that direction of the wind will keep the worst of the killer water north of us. The tides are coming off a strong new moon and will deliver a couple of early week dats with plus 4’ tide swings. The water temp is somewhat mitigated with the rain intrusion but still hovering 86 to 89.

BACKWATER: The shallower backwaters will take the brunt of effect from the red tide and algae “soup”Stay aware of the quality of the water you’re fishing in……kinda green; no surface bait; void of bird action especially the black skimmer. If all of those come together pick up your gear and move on. Good current, bait dimpling the water surface and bird action will be the place where the fish have run to. There you will find the action. Mackerel are around in the fast water flow and can be had with tipped jigs worked over chum. Bottom action now is almost exclusively on mangrove snapper that have grown nicely over the past two or three months. A tipped jig head to the bottom adjacent to structure should get you what you’re looking for.

NEARSHORE: The light southerly and easterly winds should keep the sea conditions flat out here this week. Mornings absent showers should be best timing coupled with a good incoming tide. The barges in the main Capri channel should be a haven for good pelagic action on mackerel, bluefish et al. Once you sight surface bait anchor up and get a block of chum going immediately, then work flashy tipped jigs tipped with shrimp just over the tidal driven slick. A 15 minute ride out to the well identified Five Mile Reef will give you the venue to work the bottom with tipped jigs, again with chum in the water, for good size lane and mangrove snapper. Might even see a black tip shark here. If interested set a fresh cut bait out on the bottom with wire leader on heavy tackle.

OFFSHORE: Further you go west the cleaner the water thus you escape the ravages of the fouled water. Try the deep wrecks around the 20 mile range for king mackerel.  Find a wreck or reef with good bait schools and anchor up current with a good chum slick. Then deploy a large cut bait on wire leader under a float set at 15-20ft. Won’t take long to draw action if the kings are anywhere in the vicinity. You’ll get a good fight and some nice take home filets for the grill or the smoker. Closer in reef spots are producing some nice catches of land and mangrove snapper working tipped weighted jigs with block chum as the teaser.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

August 3rd 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Adverse conditions continue to perpetuate all along the SW Florida coast that enhance the continued presence of Green Algae and it’s companion Red Tide. Albeit, the presence of these annoying problems are presenting a greater problem to our North……but, we still are enduring effects along our beaches that spills into our backwaters on the back of those stronger early summer incoming tides. Doesn’t shut the fishing down but makes your trip a hit-or-miss event. As you go West into the deeper, cleaner water of the Gulf the problem dissipates but never disappears……fish that have been tainted drag the issue west in an attempt to escape. Hopefully we’ll experience an abatement of the problem as the rains of August descend on us. Elsewhere on the CONDITIONS front, this coming week is showing light AM East and  Northeast winds with some increase in gusts but not till late afternoon. There will be lots of thunder bangers but not much storm rain. The tides are heading to another new moon….so hang on for some racing AM outgoing tides with a 3-4’ range. The water temperature is toying with a steady 90 degrees……way too early!

BACKWATER: Of the three domains we consider, the backwater is the major locale living with water quality problems. First……some tips on WHERE to fish. Fish in areas graced by the incoming tidal flow i.e cleaner water especially where you can sight bait ripples in the water. Even the smallest bait fish will exit red tide levels. Look for water that shows a level of clarity (Test: can you see the lower unit step on your outboard clearly ?).Look for birds working the water you want to fish… scout nowadays is the black skimmer….if they are working the area you’re fishing, you’re in the right place. Fishing action is stronger early in the day before the superheated sun’s rays begin to penetrate the water surface in a vertical direction and try to find areas shaded by overhanging trees. Species active this last week are mangrove snapper, mackerel, whiting and occasional pompano and (surprisingly) small permit. Snapper along the edges and downed fauna; mackerel, pompano and permit in fast moving incoming water; whiting along beach edges on the outgoing tide.

NEARSHORE: Light wind will keep the sea state relatively flat this week in the 3-5 mile nearshore reefs. And, more importantly, the water quality will be less threatened by the fouled water conditions. Mackerel et al will again be the top target here as they work the bait schools holding on the numerous nearshore reefs. Best this week most likely will be those reefs just nearshore Marco in 20-30’ of water paralleling the coastline. Make a north/south run with fishfinder at max gain searching for tight schools of bait. Drop a marker and double back: anchor up tide from the major activity site and get some block chum in the water. Pelagics (mackerel / blues / jacks)  will show first and can be worked with tipped jigs on wire leader worked in the top water above the slick. Action could well be fast and furious. As you tire of that action, change over to weighted jigs and work the bottom structure for mangrove and lane snapper as well as trout, whiting and possibly triggerfish.      

OFFSHORE: Should be reasonably flat conditions here also. Exception could well be late week mornings when the outgoing tidal pull will be extreme. Long range options here will include a trip to the “towers” SW of the island (well marked on hot spot charts) for permit. Will need mid to heavy tackle and a supply of small blue claw crabs for bait. Set up on the tower working the outgoing water and freeline a live crab into a block chum slick. Permit are a very active prize and can be in the 30# class. Work an aggressive fast retrieve to outrun the huge Goliath Grouper that will covet your catch. Bottom action out here is usually fair to good on yelllowtail and lane snapper as well as an occasional red grouper.An alternative trip would be mid range 15-20 miles due west to marked wrecks for yellowtail snapper action. Here it’s early deployment of chum and then freelining bits of chum on small hooks into the slick with the reel bail open. ‘tails will take the chum and run…….count to ten and drop the bail. Good catch and great on the table.