Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 22nd 2019 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Absolutely amazing !!!! What else can you say about this winter weather here. No wonder every “Tom, Dick and Harry” from up north have invaded our domain. Fished today and the water temperature was 76………going back into past years fishing records that temperature would hover between 62 and 64 at this part of the year. For fishing that really effects the winter focus here on big spawning sheepshead as well as colder climate seekers like whiting, silver trout and speckled trout. Obviously what we’re left with are “warm water dwellers” and primary in that grouping is the very active mangrove snapper. Which, bottom line, is not an absolute tragedy , but what we’re missing is catching the mongo big spawning sheepshead. The various forecasts we review have no change in temperature in the forecast for the coming week as well as zero rain. And to top off a mirror image week the full moon will wane and leave us weak but manageable tides both ways. If you’re into walking the beach this is nirvana / if you itching for some good winter fishing……..well let’s wait it out…..maybe March will give us a chill down.

BACKWATER: With the heat we’re getting some hellacious wind periods. And that has added an element of distress in the backwaters with muddy occluded waters that really slows the bite. Anywhere near the Passes these last two days, the good bite stopped cold about one hour after the incoming turn. Fish can’t feed on what they can’t see……simple as that. If you move into the more remote backwaters (Addison Bay / Johnson Bay / Rookery Bay) where that inshore stained water usually dissipates somewhat you have a much better chance for some action. There are nice size mangrove snappers to be had working a simple shrimp laden lindy rig into a gold spot with lots of downed brush that has good current flow. Elsewhere a couple to tips…….up on the edges of Keeywadin Beach on the outgoing tide working a shrimp to the bottom on the outgoing tide will get you some nice size whitings (fun to catch; good chow; no size limit and an out of site number restiction)

NEARSHORE: If there is a place that those mega sheepshead will hold out with the hot backwaters, it’s the first and second lines of reefs just off the condos and hotels along the beach. These are all old reefs that have built up barnacle laden environments that are piscatorially attractive. Big winter fish heading offshore quite likely might investigate here. Worth a chance working a shrimp or cut fiddler bait tight to the bottom on a soft lift. The Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the legendary Five Mile Reef always hold promise. In these current conditions, still have a good shot at bottom action on mangrove and lane snapper as well as more the more elusive species like triggerfish and porgies (that are now prevalent hereabouts).

OFFSHORE: Going deep still makes sense…..these inshore winds are driven by temperature differential that are more evident inshore than offshore. So what you see as you transit the Passes may dissipate as you move west. Deep wrecks can be holding some returning pelagics that vamoosed south in the fall and now sense the abnormal warmth. Chance for some kings and cobia even this early. Set up on a wreck that shows bait on the finder and then anchor up and get a chum block going pronto and follow up with a frisky blue runner tethered on a 15th weighted leader and see what develops……..kind of early in the season but this is an unusual season. Other, more evident activity, would be action on yellowtail snapper which are evident here and full time feeders all year. Set a spot and get the block chum is the water pronto. One on flow, bait up with a tad of the same chum and feed it into the slick freelined with the bail open…on a strike let the run do 10-15 seconds and then close the bail and set for a great fight.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 15th Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Heading into a rather typical winter weather week here in mid February…..very variable. Mornings early week will dawn with air temperatures in the low seventies but the end of the week those temps will have dropped to the mid forties. That has severe effect on winter fishing here. The winter species (sheepshead, whiting, silver trout) don’t know which way to go …….feed or run. We’ve got to get a stable “cold” water spell to get a constant bite of the “lunkers”. Otherwise on conditions, there is no rain or storms in the forecast. Little bit of afternoon gusty winds over the weekend but then calms out late week with most of the wind direction coming out of the south. The tides are enduring another tussle with the full moon cycle but this time around no crazy high or super low tides. All in all a pretty good week on the water with more snapper around (warmer water) than we usually see this time of year. Yearning for a cold snap before spring sets in and get the classic sheepshead bite in here for anglers.

BACKWATER: Seeing an enormous number of smaller sheepshead all though our backwaters but an absence of the “lunkers”…..as mentioned in CONDITIONS, the prime cause is the absence of low 60 degree water here. Snapper seem to be dominant with a better than average chance at capturing some keepers. Best spots are where there is bottom structure and good tidal flow. Try Addison Bay edges and back into Three Island Cove for good water flow. Rookery Bay east edges has also been producing some good results on moderate numbers on mangroves working shrimp tight to shallow structure. Redfish are also active on the same venues. Most are small (under 18”) but that makes no difference ……they all must be released now due to excessive kill we had with the red tide/algae fiasco this last year. The warmth has also kept some snook around and they can be worked with live bait up along Rookery Bay and over in Johnson Bay on shallower current edges with incoming tide best.

NEARSHORE: Fishing the reefs out here has been benefitted with the overall warmer water conditions. Sheepshead have moved onto these deeper and cooler spots to feed on bottom structure. Have reports of good to very good action on the major weeks…..i.e. the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the southeast and northwest corners of the Five Mile Reef. Working a shrimp or cut crab vertically just touching the bottom on a vertical lift technique can draw action on some bigger members of the species. Also have a chance on same spots for nice size mangrove snapper as well as triggerfish and maybe even some displaced sea trout. Have reports of good snapper action, both lane and mangrove, on the south part of the Keeywadin Reefs working tipped weighted jigs just a foot or so off the bottom on the incoming tide. Good idea to set up the action soaking a block of chum on the surface to accelerate the action.

OFFSHORE: With the blustery winds confined to the weekend, you should have nice flat water and comfortable conditions if you run deep. Most of the action now is on snapper on wrecks and reef spots that hold and attract snapper, both lane and mangroves……some sheepshead too , but reported to be scattered and in low numbers. Best chance deep, with the pelagic migration from up north finished, will be on bottom dwellers. Super deep 70+’ hard bottom still has some scattered grouper action…but it all depends of water temperature and current flow. Worth a try. For red grouper it’s working a live pinfish tight to the bottom structure over defined hard bottom of a tide induced drift. Important you’re working bottom with defined outcroppings on your fish finder. Gag grouper will be working on higher defined structure spots and be interested in a tethered small jack or runner freelined right into the crevices of the stuff. Lastly,…..crab pots are still deployed and those surface markers are nirvana for tripletail. Set a lookout as you make the run out and back……double back and work the surface with a tipped dark color jig.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 8th -15th Fishing Report

CONDITIONS:  The week kicks off with excellent winter conditions……..Mornings will range from 65 degrees to 70 late morning and then heating up to 80 plus real feel by late afternoon. But don’t get complacent as the wind kicks in mid week and will be buffeting the waters with steady 20mph gusts out of the northwest and due west . So as a result the water temperatures will be unfamiliar for the sheepshead and then the water will cloud up to muddy come late week. All that indicates that the fishing that’s top notch early week and then take a dive as the last part of the week kicks in. On the positive side, there is very little precipitation forecast thankfully, and once the wind eases we’ll get our good conditions back very quickly. And lastly, tides are coming off a new moon early week and are reasonably moderate both ways and won’t effect fishing

BACKWATER:  The warmer water will effect the sheepshead bite this week. Can see a slowdown in the big fish with the water warming to close to 70 degrees. Can give it a try as the spawn season in still in place and they need to feed. Would confine your attempts to deeper water and near, if not on top or structure (docks, waterway markers, piers etc) working a hunk of shrimp or cut crab tight to the structure in moving water. Should also be some nice (smaller) redfish around and jumping on shrimp or cut bait worked tight to the mangrove edges especially in the latter stages of the incoming tide. Good venues would be Addison Bay and Johnson Bay when the water depth is passable. Also take a chance on some nice whiting by working the outgoing tide tight to the edges of Keeywadin Island . A bit of shrimp on a jig will do the trick here.

NEARSHORE: With this week’s warm up look for the sheepshead to head to the deeper cooler nearshore reefs. Those in 20-25’ of water just off the beaches to be the prime spot. Once to mark structure on the finder; anchor up and get a bait (cut shrimp or cut crab) in the water and work it with a soft vertical lift technique. Keep some motion in the offering and once to feel the “tap” simply lift the bait 2-3” and when you feel weight that’s when you set the hook. Don’t try to set on that first tap……you’ll lose the bait and  get an empty hook back. Might try the Five Mile Reef SE corner for some nice lane and mangrove snapper action. Do so while the tide is running strong either way way and use some block chum to attract and draw both mangrove and lane snapper as well as some intermingled triggerfish and porgies (that’s right…..porgies here now). And always a chance out here to see some red grouper…..most undersized but you always have a chance at a take home.

OFFSHORE: Deep will be OK comfort wise until that wind kicks up late week. Wrecks that show bait holding have been providing good action on some smaller kings as well as some good bottom action on mangrove and lane snapper as well as some hot action on yellowtail snapper. Good idea to get some chum down early and give it a chance to work before you move off. Chilly water slows the fish movement down. Yellowtail snapper action is a blast to experience. Unique however, is the method……yellowtail will take your bait; not swallow the bait and run like the blazes……so keep your bail open and count to ten before you close the bail and set the hook. Good fight on the yellowtail and good size and great tablefare. Other target out deep now is tripletail who hang around the stone crab trap markers. See one sunning on the surface; double back quietly and work with a dark colored tipped jig right on the surface.