Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 30th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: The big frontal blast pre Christmas is in a very slow recovery. In addition to producing winds in the 40-50 mph range it upset the barometric pressure norms big time.  Fish do strange things when that  happens and keep those a secret from us angling mortals. We are just beginning to see marginal norms return in early winter fishing patterns here. Clean water is a paramount ingredient, so first off look for clean water (where you can clearly see the bottom layers of your outboard lower unit immersed). Once that is in place check the water temperature and water flow…..should be running in accordance with the day’s tide predictions. With those factors in place you should begin to get action as you feed baits into the water. The forecasts for this week are positive and should help restore faith in the fishing conditions here on the Paradise Coast. The water temperature should slowly diminish which will trigger feeding for the cold water species here for spawn. Look for movement of that temperature into the low sixties by week end. The tides are heading to a new moon and the water flow should be moderate both ways.

BACKWATER: This is where you’ll find the bulk of the residual muddy water. It will show primarily in spots where the water feed is weak…..tends to keep the cleaner water at bay. Should keep moving till clean water is primary. Sheepshead will be the ascending species here as they swarm in for spawn. Will be small a first but stay with a good action spot …..the big ones hold back but the shrimp in the water will eventually draw the bigger ones. Fish up closer to the stern of the boat…’s those shrimp bits their after. Should be fair to good snapper action all along the mangrove edges working a 1/2 oz jig head tipped with shrimp tight to the downed trees and other structure. In the passes (Capri, Hurricane, Caxambas) good chance for pompano action during the first hour of the incoming working tipped jigs close to the bottom on a tidal drift.

NEARSHORE: Will have flattened out here and be more comfortable as the week’s forecast on mind is all mild. Some question as to any continuance of the summer mackerel action out here. Macks are more a warm water species……but still worth a quick try. If you move over a reef and note bait hordes on the fishfinder…..dump a block of chum overboard and drift back over the reef. Get hookups ? Move back and drop the anchor. Play the spot till the action stops or the catch changes to blue runners. Major reefs (Walton / Five Mile) are holding inbound sheepshead, some of take home size, so worth a try. No chum here just a vertical drop of a cut crab or hunk of shrimp right to the bottom. Work with a constant soft lift technique and set when you feel weight. Most of catch yet will be small but the big ones will move in just like in the backwaters. Same reefs have a good chance for late season snapper action. Tease with a good chum effort and then work the area with shrimp tipped weighted jigs just off the bottom.

OFFSHORE: Could well be some left over swells from the past storm that may make the deeper water uncomfortable. Deep the action has been focused on wrecks with migrating kingfish heading to winter grounds in the warmer Keys. Using the Hot Spots Chart select a wreck sitting admidst ledges and changes in bottom topography; get some chum in the water asap and deploy a live blue runner on wire leader and under a float so it is tethered in 10-15’ depth. If kings are there; you’ll have action. While you wait work the bottom (away from the runner) with shrimp on weighted jigs just off the bottom for lane and mangrove snapper and maybe even an occasional yellowtail. And, as mentioned in previous articles, on the trip out and back, set a lookout and keep a eye on the crab pots. Tripletail love to sun there right on the surface. Work them with light tackle with darker color jigs.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 23rd 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Christmas week weather is always a bit iffy and this year will be no different. Coming off a rather  menacing weather frontal passage last week, we will be dealing with  the aftermath of pummeled water clarity especially inshore…..near and offshore will be a different peril of rough water as the winds subside. So, best advice will be to focus on the latter part of the week when the water clears inshore and flattens in the Gulf. A plus, however, is the absence of the red t de and algae

laden water which has been a frequent  deterrent to fishing quality  here and up to our north. We will be going through a rather strong full moon cycle over Christmas and as a result some of the morning incoming tides will present a range of water level change in excess of 3.5 feet…..that will present a problem other than at the very beginning and end of the tide cycle. The afternoon  outgoing tides will be meek and very fishable. Would project that the storm conditions late last week with  ferocious winds will tumble our water temperatures  into  the low 60’s and encourage more action by winter  species as described in the sector forecasts.

BACKWATER: As the wind tails off over the weekend, the muddy I stained water will dissipate. Would think, if the forecasts hold true, we will see cleaner water post Christmas Day. The first  to clean up will be backwater spots well off the main current  flow i.e Addison Bay, Johnson Bay and there along the mangrove edges there should be good action on late season snapper and the arriving  sheepshead. Most of the latter will still be undersized but you can expect at least a few keepers. The snapper fall for a tipped jig worked slowly across the bottom  ; the sheepshead a tad of shrimp on a lindy rig worked ever so slowly on a soft lift technique tight  to the bottom….the sheeps head will frequent  a little deeper water….think bottom  dropoff……than the snapper. You can also begin to target the speckled trout as the winter season progresses. They become very active in the cooler conditions and their “food” of choice are critters that feed in the bottom seagrass. Couple of good spots for seagrass are along the ICW just at the entry by La Penisula on the Isle of Capri known as Calhoun Channel and just south of ICW marker #R28 on the north end of Canon Island. Drift either area with a live shrimp well under a popper.

NEARSHORE: Be a little rough here into the first part of the week as the front makes finalpassage. Forecasts show the wind veering east post Christmas Day and that will help subside the rough water. Probably a good spot to consider late week. When you do make the trip make sure you give the Walton Reef (a marked location on HOT SPOTS CHART available at the marina Ships Store) a try. Good structure there will hold arriving sheepshead with a goodly number of them in “take home” size. They can be worked with a small piece of live shrimp or tad of cut crab dropped vertically  to the bottom and then worked on a verticallift. Other note able action will be on schools of mackerel and bluefish plying the small reefs all along the Marco First and Second Reefs. You’ll pick up location in 20-25′ of water from South Seas complex to south of the Marriott. Look for bait working those spots and set up an action spot with a chum effort followed by working the surface with small tipped jigs on a fast retrieve.

OFFSHORE: Refer to the Nearshore Section as to the expected sea conditions. Will be a increased degree of wave height out here. Reports indicate that best action now is on kingfish (king mackerel) that are slowly moving from the Panhandle waters and heading south for the winter “warmth” of the waters in the Florida Keys. They will stop to feed on our wrecks and reefs in the 30-50′ depth levels and will favor those spots that are holding bait. Best approach is to set up forward in the water flow and get a good chum effort  going first and then with a small blue runner as bait, tether it on wire leader at 15-20′. Another approach is to set the same bait on a slow troll around the wreck/ reef. The kings are tough and toothy… be careful in handling. On the way out and best from your fishing destination, keep an eye out for floating tripletail sunning on top by the crab trap markers. Work them with mid range tackle and a dark colored tipped jig.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 15th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Tough to decide as to whether we’re in summer or winter these early winter days. But nobody that has escaped the frigid ravages up north is complaining. This week will be no exception. Starts off with a little rain and mild temperatures and ends with gusty winds and falling air temperatures. Those mildly chillier temperatures is what the anglers are looking for……they will help drive the water temperatures down and enhance the migration cycle of the determined spawners offshore to make their move inside. If the forecast plays out look for the water temperatures to be bouncing between 62 and 65 by week end. We are already seeing some winter fish action here…so this will enhance the action. A side factor of benefit to all here is that the cooler water temperatures will be a deterrent to any further invasion of red tide and fouled algae waters to invade our waters. With light winds through late week the sea conditions, especially offshore, should be very favorable. And lastly the tides will not be a factor this week with a moderate flow both ways that will keep ‘em feeding.

BACKWATER: Noticeable change in seasonal conditions over the past two weeks in the backwaters. Getting stable, steady action now on sheepshead, albeit most still undersized, it bodes well for the weeks and months that lie ahead. We’ve stated in prior weeks reports that there is now solid evidence that the catastrophic water quality along the Gulf edge up north, has “driven” the fish to cleaner water here. We are seeing both species and volume of fish that we haven’t seen here in some years.The cold water species lead the way. As mentioned lots of sheepshead action albeit yet small but that a key the big spawners will soon follow. Also seeing species like porgies and flounder mixed in the backwater edges where there is good current flow and loving those shrimp presented on a lindy rig as well as on the back end of a small jig. Right now the action could well be best out along the Gulf edges (Johnson   Bay……Keeywadin Island…….Kice Island for all these species working that morning incoming tide. All the water temperature drops your action will be further inside (Rookery Bay …..Addison Bay) on the same baits and techniques.

NEARSHORE: Should be comfortable nearshore at least through mid week. The inshore reefs are seeing more of the “take home”sheepsheads because on the way inshore those first and second lines of reefs hold lots of bait and the sheepies are readying for reproduction and need all the energy they can get. Now, if you’re new to this domain, the use the techniques you use back home for walleye and bass… gotta adjust your technique. The sheepshead will approach your bait and start to nibble on it / you won’t feel it / and then after a stretch you’ll retrieve to find your shrimp or crab gone. So….give this a try. Once your bait is on the bottom do repetitive 2-3” lifts very softly…’ll feel a nudge. Do not yank and try to set until you feel weight. Feel weight; a solid 6” strong pull vertically and start the retrieve. Keep the rod at a 45% angle and totally steady – let the rod do the work. If you pump the rod you will slack the line and bye bye sheepie. Try it……bet you’ll land em.

OFFSHORE: Should be a good week at least for the first part of the period. Best is deep deep. If you can make it out due west at least 30 miles where you can work the yellowtail snapper and some hefty mangroves adjacent to the numerous artificial reefs as well as good action on red and gag grouper with live bait worked tight to the bottom outcroppings on a tidal drift. When you start back pick out a wreck or two in the 20 mile that the finder tells you in holding bait and tether a blue runner on wire at circa 20ft in a good chum slick for very active kingfish on their way to the winter “stomping grounds” down in the Keys. On those long trips back and forth set a lookout as you near set crab trap pots and keep an eye open for sunning tripletail. Easy: just double back quietly and work a tipped jig on the surface tight to the pot.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 7th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Looks like we could be info a redux of the fouled water dilemma that we suffered through this summer. Multiple reports this week of dead dolphin and bottom feeders prevalent in waters just north of Marco. Personal experience this past week shows water here that tainted color but very little respiratory discomfort for those on the water. We’ll just have to wait and see how the issue plays out this week. My bet as the water temperature dives down in the mid 60’s and beyond is that we see the threat of red tide and algae infected water dissipate. Advice: stay tuned using the MY.FWC.COM web site or the local Naples daily publications. General weather this week is winter typical with a front roaring through early week with some diving air temps and stronger and gustier winds. The latter may foul the water especially in some backwater spots that need to be avoided. The new moon tide will provide a good medium strength morning incoming tide but then dissipate and give you a weak afternoon water flow.

BACKWATER: Expect to see an “early” arrival of the sheepshead spawn cycle in this domain this week and beyond. For reasons only known to them the medium (keeper) size sheepshead have arrived here early. Experience over the past week or so indicates that if you hit a spot with good small sheepshead action…..stay put……it takes a little time but the bigger ones (12-14”) will show as they gravitate toward the bait and action. Work a spot in the 8-10 foot depth range that has good tidal flow with the incoming showing best. Good chance on those same spots for mangrove snapper action with some bigger fish finishing their summer feast. Elsewhere, you might begin the try the waters just off the beaches (think Sandollar Island / Sea Oat Island) for the beginning phases of whiting and silver trout action. Need good relatively clean moderately fast water working tipped gigs tight to the bottom. Last but not least the spec trout are in the process of turning on all along the Calhoun Channel and the island edges up north by Canon Island. Look for moving water in 6-8’ depths and a grass bottom and work a tipped jig under a popper on a drift.

NEARSHORE: Want to stay close to the wind forecasts if your planning to venture anywhere in the Gulf this week. Could get rough early week if those predicted westerly winds show up. Action here is holding pretty steady with good to very good pelagic action on incoming tidal waters on inshore structure like reefs and shallow wrecks. Best here is a early immersion of block chum and allowing a 10-15 minute soak time before beginning to work tipped jigs on a fast retrieve up above the falling chum bits. Be patient…..once they show, they will sustain the action on mackerel, some bluefish, jacks and blue runners. Looking for bottom action for snapper, grouper (possible) then get the coordinates for the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the legendary Marco Five Mile Reef. Late summer action is still prevalent in both spots. Will, again, need a chum effort followed by either cut large baits to the bottom or after lifting your chum to the surface work tipped weighted jigs and work just off the bottom.

OFFSHORE: Ditto on watching the wind forecasts before making a long offshore effort. Deeper wrecks are still experiencing the intermittent action on southbound pelagics (kings, cobia, permit et al) attracted to bait rich wreck sites.You’ll need to acquire some frisky live bait inshore (blue runners, pinfish, thread herring) and deploy it on wire leader and stout tackle tethered under a float at 15-20’ immersed in a strong chum effort. If the targets appear on the surface, rig up a smaller live bait and commence to top water retrieve. Cobia, will most likely, approach your activity right on the surface. This also is the prime season for tripletail and, as previously mentioned, it’s a good idea to assign one of your crews as lookout as to move through the crab trap markers looking for a floating TT sunning , Take with medium weight tackle working a dark color jig right on the surface. Good action with great table fare appeal.