Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

May 11th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: As we move into the middle of the month, the two dominant weather factors here, effecting our fishing, are heat and water quality. The water temperature, as driven by 90 degree air temperature afternoons, is climbing into the 80-85 degree range consistently. Result: increased potential for storm conditions albeit mostly isolated t-storms but the long range potential for tropical system development here in the SW quadrant of the Gulf is way too early. The water quality issue of red tide presence is most likely enhanced by the abnormally high water temperature. Those red tide levels, as identified by authorities, for our Marco area is LOW along the beaches this week but measured as MODERATE north of the island from the shore and reaching inland to Rookery Bay. In the general weekly weather predictions, the week is generally rain free with just a few brief stormy periods; the wind holds easterly and moderate until mid week with some afternoon gusty periods. The tides are anticipating a new moon early week which will drive some super strong afternoon outgoing water flows.

BACKWATER: Think snook ! First….remember the harvest for snook is CLOSED until September and rightly so. The snook are is spawning mode; love the heated water and this is their nirvana for feeding heavily. And that nice early first light incoming tide along the beaches should show good to excellent action working live bait just west of the surf break. As the morning rolls on, they will be working the current points along the mangrove edges as well as structure (docks, piers). Please use circle hooks exclusively to enhance a safe and quick release. The mangrove snapper, to good size, love these conditions and will be feeding heavily along most all mangrove edges and structure. They will feed on both tides and the larger fish will show in the slower water periods i.e. an hour on either side of the tide change (slack water). Usual bait for the snapper is fresh shrimp but they will jump on all live bait correctly presented as well. Look for deeper backwater action on sea trout and species like black drum in the creeks and cuts in Rookery and Johnson Bay, on either tide, working cut bait along the bottom where there are varying depths and  ample structure.

NEARSHORE: Thus far, this has not been a robust tarpon season here. Get reports of some action in the Passes and associated inland waterways but not the “barn burner” we have experienced in past years. But still worth a shot as the season here has historically run through the third week of May. Back half of a cut catfish for bait and no chum (to avoid sharks). The mackerel and companion bluefish and jacks are holding out along the nearshore reef spots and barges and provide good exciting action. Key is locating bait schools and then commence a good chum effort, giving 15-20 minutes for it to work and then get small tipped jigs on light wire leader cast into the current with a rapid retrieve. Stay up in the top layer of water to avoid the legions of blue runners feeding below. Good bottom fish action on snapper, both lane and mangrove, reported on the corners of the Five Mile reef as well the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass with AM incoming best.

OFFSHORE: With virtually no forecast of storms and reasonable wind, good week to head out here. Just one caution……some gusty wind periods in the afternoons will make the mornings the better choice here for action as well as creature comfort. Beginning to see the vanguard of the pelagic migration show up on the deeper reefs and wrecks that are holding bait schools. Expect to see kingfish (king mackerel), cobia, sharks and, on some spots, barracuda. All can be had working live bait (blue runner best) under a good chum effort and the cobia, which will show on the surface, on a deft cast of a live threadfin right at them. The closer in reefs SW of the island are producing nice catches of lane and mangrove snapper working weighted jigs under a good chum effort.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

May 4th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: As we ease into May, arguably our best fishing month here, we will face shifting conditions…..first and foremost there are very few and spotty storm periods for the week. The dominant wind will be out of the more favorable east which will tend to keep the water relatively clean. But there are a couple of days post weekend that might provide a uncomfortable gusty wind. Forecast to be out of the NNW from Monday afternoon through nightfall on Tuesday. Good chance that could gum up the fishing into late week. The tides are off a waning moon and are remarkably weak, both ways, through late Tuesday. All of the tidal predictions on that period show less than a one foot movement in the circa six hour tides. The water temperature continues to climb as we have lots of sum and little fresh water intrusion. Range for water temps this week will go from 80 to 83 depending on the depth of water you’re fishing.

BACKWATER: This month, by far, is the best fishing month for snook. They are in or preparing for their spawning cycle AND THE HARVEST IS CLOSED FOR GOOD REASON. Early morning high water, albeit weak tides, will provide good snook action along the beaches from Cape Romano (Kice Island) all the way to Naples. Working live pilchards / sardines just outside the “breakers” should deliver some good to excellent action. Want to use circle hooks now and handle the release with wetted cloths. The other good news is that the mangrove snapper, which is the summer staple here, are showing up in respectable sizes all along the mangrove edges from Johnson Bay east to Addison Bay and then north to Rookery Bay and the adjacent Hurricane Pass. Whole small shrimp are the best attractant here worked tight to downed tree limbs on either tide. Best timing on faster tides (not this week) is to first the first and last hour of the tides…either way. There is limited tarpon action beginning to show along the Marco River and extending out into the Capri Channel west of Sea Oat Island. Best to work the incoming tide with the aft portion of a cut catfish worked along a drop off. In the deeper backwaters where there is some depth look for black drum working shrimp tight to the bottom in reasonably good current flow – either tide.

NEARSHORE: Action choices here include the good chance for tarpon action along the northern edges of Capri Channel from La Penisula to Marker #R3 working cut catfish in current tight to the drop off. Incoming usually best but that could be a problem until late week with such weak tides. Anchor short with a float at the bitter end…..need to weigh anchor and go with your catch if you’re into action. Bigger sharks will be in the tarpon flow. Recommend you don’t use chum. Action on nice size mackerel schools continue just west of the Sea Buoy and the Capri Barge wrecks. here you’ll want to get some chum in the water and work flashy tipped jigs up on the surface going with the tidal flow. In addition to the macks there is a good chance for both bluefish and little tunny (like bonito) in the action pool.

OFFSHORE: Favorable conditions deep with the exception of late Monday through Wednesday morning……wind will churn up the sea conditions. Inside wrecks and reefs now showing northbound pelagics (kingfish, some cobia and permit) on either tide working bait schools. Kings are the most numerous and aggressive now and can we worked with a live blue runner on wire leader set out at 15’ under a float and surrounded by a good chum effort. The cobia have a much different attack pattern. They will arrive on the surface and hover at shallow depths and jump on a thread herring cast shallow as they cruise the surface. And lastly, the permit will show on or near the surface and go for a small blue claw crab worked up close to the surface.  Smaller wrecks and artificial reefs are holding nice size lane and mangrove snapper. Work with s good chum effort and weighted jigs tipped with cut bait worked a foot or two off structure.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

April 27th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Trend looks like we’re finally moving away from the water damaging west winds this week. That will present a significant improvement in water clarity in all three fishing sectors. Winds this week are dominant E and NE albeit with still some afternoon gusty periods but nothing like what we faced in late March and early April. The water temperatures continue to creep up with stable air temperatures and the absence of deluge cooling rains with have an immediate  “cooling” effect on the necessary warm temperatures to draw and hold our spring and early summer species here. Look for the water to hover in the high seventies all week. In fact, we should be devoid of rain of the forecast of one late morning period of rain on Saturday is accurate.Tides both ways will be charged up just a bit as we experience a full moon on Sunday. Both ebb and flood tide strengths will be about the same and definitely fishable.

BACKWATER: This domain will have the most appreciable benefit from the anticipated clean water…….and just in time as we welcome one of the prime fishing months here. Snook will be one of the prime attractions as they feed up pre-spawn BUT their limited harvest season ends of May 1 and is closed until September 1. Look for them along the beaches from Kice Island northward. Primary bait are pilchards worked just beyond the surf line. They will also be active all along the backwater spots like Rookery and Johnson Bay holding on shallower current edges with best on incoming. The clean water will also present an opportunity for the seasonal pelagics (mackerel / bluefish / little tunny) to invade the three Passes on the stronger morning incoming tides and taking tipped jigs. Keep and eye open for bird action which is the giveaway of their presence and location. While in that domain, don’t neglect the fact that the pompano also thrive in these conditions. Every once in awhile, while on your drift switch over to weighted bottom rigs bounced just off the bottom. In the deeper backwaters, it will be the month that the snapper size kicks in and you should see some 11-13” mangrove snapper along most of the mangrove edges…….worked with small whole shrimp.

NEARSHORE: We’ll focus here on both backwater and coastal tarpon action here. This is their month ! They will be transiting up from the Keys and invading through the Coon Key Pass and Marco River and up around Cape Romano and then northbound along the inshore waters heading north. Two most used spots for tarpon action are, first, the north edges of the Marco River between the entrance to Tarpon Bay and the La Penisula complex and, secondly, the south edges of the Capri Channel out to #R3 marker. Most successful bait on the tarpon has been the back end of a cut catfish. Try not to use chum as it will attract the big sharks that accompany the tarpon herd north. Best times are the first part of the incoming tide in early morning (exactly the conditions this week). Elsewhere in the nearshore, you have mackerel et al action on the Capri Pass barges. Improving bottom action on snapper along the first and second reef spots and some migrating pelagic action (kings) on the Five Reef corners.

OFFSHORE: Should be one of the better weeks out here. Winds aren’t shut down but are of lighter velocity and out of the east quadrant which should keep the sea conditions and water quality top notch out here. The inside reefs (8-12 miles) have good snapper, both lane and mangrove varieties providing good action in harvestable sizes working tipped weighted jigs just off the bottom under a moderate chum effort. The activity and chum will usually draw concurrent action on mackerel and bluefish in the top waters. The deep wrecks are seeing the first of pelagic migration action on kingfish and some cobia and sharks working live runners on wire leader set out under a float set and 10-15’ under chum. Deep / deep action on the 70+ feet water hard bottom is still producing a reasonable activity level on red grouper working a live pinfish on a drift tight to the bottom.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

April 20th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: First week in awhile that we show periodic rain events…..shows that spring is really here. Should not influence the fishing opportunity as the they are forecast to be scattered showers. The overall air temperatures continue to climb and afternoons will be on the  toasty high eighties. The water temperatures follow and will show in the mid seventies and rising. Problem issue this past week was the muddy water churned up by that strong west wind post weekend. Will take some time for that episode to totally clear but should improve quickly with the placid winds forecast this week. The tides are favorable this week with a mild early morning outgoing followed up by a bit stronger afternoon incoming. And that movement will also help clear the cloudy tidal conditions.

BACKWATER: Look for water clarity conditions to clear rapidly as things settle down after the weekend “blow”. As the water clears you’ll want to explore the possibility of the pelagics (mackerel, bluefish, little tunny) re-entering the Passes and feeding especially on the late morning incoming tides. Working them with tipped flashy jigs pulled quickly should provide some exciting action. Off the faster moving water in the first and last hours of that same incoming tide might find some pompano feeding in the shallower regions. Pomps will take a tipped jig worked off the bottom. In the more remote backwaters, there is good snook action as the water warms, in venues like Johnson and Rookery Bays working pilchards, post shower, right into the shallower current flow edges on the early morning incoming tide. Most of the snook yet are the smaller juveniles so take care on release. The bigger snook will show more actively as the water warms in the months ahead. Best target now will be the improving size of the mangrove snapper showing along most of the mangrove edges and jumping on fresh shrimp baits worked into and under mangrove edge structure.

NEARSHORE: This should be a banner week for pelagics (mackerel, bluefish, jacks and little tunny) nearshore with cleaner water and no storms. Good starting points would be the barges just off the Capri Channel out to the Sea Buoy and the reefs off the Marco hotels known as the “First Reef”.Both of these locales will have bait schools that draw and hold the predators . Set up with a chum effort flowing into the structure and working tipped jigs up near the surface with a fast retrieve. Once action starts it will be consistent as long as the chum lasts. If the little tinny show, might want to upgrade the tackle and switch over to cut bait. Fresh mackerel will do just fine. Bottom action for snapper awaits at both the Walton Reef located off Caxambas Pass and the Marco Five Mile Reef. Here, you’ll want to work weighted jigs tipped with shrimp just off the bottom under a deep set chum effort.  Chances now are excellent for a nice take of both lane and mangrove snapper as the water warms and bait schools hold in these spots.

OFFSHORE: Wind and sea conditions are favorable if you want to chance that long run for red grouper. Long haul to the hard bottom 30+ miles west but well worth the effort for a crew that can get into harvestable red grouper. Need a bait well with live pinfish, some stout tackle and a good tide …….and all of that should be available this week. Elsewhere out here, the closer in wrecks that are holding bait are excellent spots to work for yellowtail snapper. Unique method of catching these delectable fish……..set up with serious chum effort and then freeline pieces of the chum itself with no weight into the slick with the bail open on your reel. The snapper will take the bit and run like the devil, swallowing as they go,……..count to ten and close the bail and hang on. Great fight and even better on the table.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

April 13th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Interesting weather week ahead. Air temperatures stay about the same with 64 to 75 degree morning temperatures escalating to steamy mid 80 afternoons. That will continue to drive the water temperatures northward and they will hover in the mid 70’s all week. But, the interesting part of the weather week is the burst of predicted windy periods over the weekend into early week. The event will start on Saturday emanating out of the E/SE and range from 12 to 21 knots and then switch W/NW from 13-18 knots. I’m sure that activity will churn up the water clarity and impact, especially, the backwater fishing quality. In addition the tides do through a new moon phase on Monday and the PM outgoing will be particularly strong through the balance of the week. The morning incoming is average and is fading late week. And to top it all off, we still have some “fading” vestiges of the red tide in our midst that effects anglers as well as their targets.

BACKWATER:  As mentioned in the Conditions section above, there will be a downturn in backwater conditions starting over the weekend, basically from deteriorating water quality with the accelerating wind periods. Might want to focus your activity away from the Passes and major current flows as you fish this weekend… best, water should be murky. The mackerel action that has been heating up very nicely this past week will most probably move west and be confined to the 20-30’ ranges nearshore. Backwater action will be centered in the Bays and creeks off the main Marco River waterflow. Look for Addison Bay and it’s associated creeks and cuts to have decidedly cleaner water and producing action on the mangrove snapper, sea trout and, hopefully, black drum. There are still a few sheepshead lunkers around but most of that species action is in the smaller and hungry midgets. Also good chance now to catch some early spring snook and redfish action in the cleaner creeks and bays with good water flow like Johnson Bay, Rookery Bay, Henderson flats and along the northern edges and creeks of the ICW north of Marker #G33.

NEARSHORE: If you can get past the choppy conditions here come weekend to early week should have cleaner water than back inside and some sustaining mackerel / bluefish action. Spots like the Capri barges, the first and second reefs and the Walton and Five Mile Reef should be positioned to provide good action. Primary now is the snapper action, both lane and mangrove, working weighted jig heads tipped with shrimp just off the bottom under a good chum effort. Mackerel and bluefish could very well show up in the top waters on the same venues…..if so lighten up the rigs and work the surface with quickly moving baits. Also a chance as the weather warms to see some migrating pelagics show up on the inside reefs searching for food (bait schools)……recommend you keep a live bait (pinfish, thread or small blue runner) on wire 10-15’ depth in the chum …….you never know what might show. Make sure you have the bait on a major rod with good strength line.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            OFFSHORE: Ditto on sea conditions out here. Water will be cleaner and you could have good to excellent action on wrecks and reefs from ten miles on out. Reports on bottom action here on snapper, primarily, have been excellent. Good size mangrove and lane action starts on structure as close in as ten miles. Need a good chum slick and weighted tipped jigs or jig heads worked just a foot or two off the bottom. And always a chance here for grouper action but recognize, at these depths, most grouper action will be reds and underside. Always fun to catch but nothing for dinner!. Last call for tripletail……if the stone crab marker buoys haven’t already been pulled they will be this week. If you happen across an unpulled trap line, set a lookout and look for the floating TT on the surface sunning. Cut power, double back and work with a tipped dark colored jig right up on the surface.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

April 6th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Coming week holds pleasant weather……a pattern of 65-70 degree morning wake ups and mid eighty late afternoons. No rain predicted. Winds predominately out of the SE ……calm mornings and afternoons with typical late day gusty periods. And all of that NICE is setting in the middle of a worsening red tide event here. Evidence is apparent in the choking / tickling cough that erupts when you are near to spraying gulf water (boat wake, aerator,). However the severity level seemingly has not elevated or we would see floating dead fish just about everywhere.But definitely an irritant…..and we don’t know what effect this has on the fishing quality! Back to the conditions……the tide will definitely be a factor this period….the morning outgoing tides through Monday are virtually non-existant and the afternoon incomings are not much better. The water temperature continues to inch up and expect it to hold in the range of 72 to 74.

BACKWATER: Spring is beginning to show fairly well in the backwaters as evidenced by the steady activity of the Spanish Mackerel. Pattern of activity is consistent; in the Passes they will show as the incoming tides take hold and feed ferociously both deep and chasing bait schools up to the surface. Work them with tipped flashy jigs rigged on wire leader on a very fast jigging motion as you retrieve. Alternatively, you can troll with those jigs or flashy spoons at about 4 knots on a perimeter of the bait eruption sites. Elsewhere, we are beginning to see other signs of piscatorial spring…… flounder are showing up is shallow water areas that have a sandy base and are easily catchable with shrimp or cut crab bounced along the bottom on a drift. Also, beginning to see the bigger mangrove snapper showing on shallower current points and will be active on either tide. Snapper will be super active on a shrimp tail worked on a jig head with the optimum period for the bigger snapper will be an hour before and after slack water…….when the faster tides slow down. The snook activity is also accelerating with lots of juveniles working the faster current points in spots like Rookery Bay flats and Johnson Bay creeks. The snook are almost exclusively taking live pilchards after being teased with a shower of same.

NEARSHORE: With winds and storms well under control this period nearshore will be comfortably accessible. Look for the same mackerel as described for the backwater to be taking place on both the first reef spots as well as the “barges” that line Capri Pass. Birds activity will be the key to the mackerel (and bluefish) presence. Can work with working chum anchored up current of structure with tipped jigs on wire or on a troll towing a flashy artificial on the perimeters of the numerous bait eruptions. Snook will be showing late period in the afternoons along the beaches on that faster incoming and taking live bait worked just outside the surf line. Look for lane and mangrove snapper on the Walton Reef and the Five Mile on both tides where there is good water flow. Best here is working weighted tipped jigs under a good chum effort.

OFFSHORE: Ditto on conditions out here. Great chance for a comfortable and safe long run deep for the treasured red grouper. Need 70+ feet of water minimum showing a hard bottom and working a live pinfish, sand perch or cut ladyfish tight to the bottom outcroppings on a tidal drift. Need to ratchet down the drag of the major tackle to keep the hooked and fleeting grouper from reaching his lair…….for his survival and your disappointment. You can catch red grouper from 45-50’ going west but you’re chances on landing a 20” keeper are almost impossible. There are gag grouper on either spots but the species is closed for retention until June 1 this year. The mid range wrecks (10-20 miles) that hold bait are seeing the arrival of smaller kings and even a few cobia as the migration from the Keys to the Upper Gulf begins. Set up with small runners on wire leader under chum for the kings and be ready with live bait at the ready for casting to surface cruising cobia. Last point: stone crab traps will all be pulled by 4/15 and there goes your target points for tripletail……take advantage of the good weather this week and get out there.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

March 16th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Week looks like one of the more favorable that we’ve had in the past month or so. No weather fronts and light winds…..that is until Friday the 22nd when things kick up. Should see some improvement in water clarity that will enhance the fishing with the light easterly wind pattern. Most will be E and SE in single digit speeds. Air temperatures hold in the high 70’s which should draw the water temps up just a bit to the 72-74 degree range. The tides are influenced by a new moon phase set for the weekend and will show a strong morning incoming tide with over 2’range and,uncharachteristically, have a identical outgoing in the afternoons. That pretends to encourage fishing activity in those first and last hours of the slower water flow. As we ease into the weekend, you’ll be faced with some of those winds that impact being able to hold the boat in position and seeing the bite as active…….so go early or mid-week with rod in hand.

BACKWATER: Still possible to find some of the bigger sheepshead in the deeper holes and cuts throughout the area. Some of the catch in the last week has shown either partial or aborted spawning effort all of which has been impacted with “too warm” water conditions. Spring fishing has sort of jumped in….with mackerel showing in all the Passes and mangrove snapper beginning to show on those backwater edges. Snook, too, have come alive in the heat and are active all along the structured bottom edges with good incoming tidal flow and jumping on pilchards worked post bait shower. Upper Addison Bay, just short of the last islands are producing nice catches of spec trout with shrimp worked under a popper just off the bottom on a drift. Same venue has been producing some unexpected redfish action in the last hours of the incoming tide working a whole shrimp freelined along the shallow edges with noticeable current

NEARSHORE: Things beginning to break open out here as the seasons change. Good reports on Spanish Mackerel in numbers like 3/4 years ago showing in the 20-30’ structure spots and worked either at anchor on a reef spot with using chum to attract and working tipped jigs on a fast retrieve or using the same rigs on a 4kt troll just off the edges of bait eruptions occurring throughout the inshore waters. On the structure spots working the bottom with weighted jigs under chum should draw all the mangrove and lane snapper you’ll want. Keeper size on the lanes is 8” and the mangroves have to be 10”…..both measured with squeezing the tail. Bottom action on the Five Mile Reef complex could get you a smaller size keeper grouper working live pinfish tight to the structure on either tide.

OFFSHORE: Conditions favorable here till late week. Red grouper are still a main target deep on hard bottom.  Reports say there is favorable catch to keep ratio in the 50-60’depths on hard bottom working a live pinfish tight to the bottom outcroppings. With weather stable through the first part of the week, probably worth a shot. Closer in on the 10-15 mile reef spots you have an opportunity for good reef fishing for snapper primarily on structure working tipped jigs under chum. Also now may see pelagics (mackerel) out here on wrecks and reefs. Work them with tipped jigs worked very quickly under chum on either tide. Could well be jacks and blue runners in the catch here.

March 9th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: How does the old saying go….”It ain’t over till it’s over. Well this coming week will prove the adage. Besides dealing with the start of Daylight Saving Time, you’re going to be assaulted with chillier morning temperatures and the abrupt turn of winds to the W and NW and  carrying some high velocity gusts especially in the afternoons. Besides taunting anglers trying to hold anchor etc, it will deliver the ultimate blow of dirty water. Thus, you can expect come late weekend, to see the morning incoming tides dragging fouled (dirty) water well up into the waterways and the deeper backwaters. Some scanty solace though, the weaker afternoon tides will have a trivial impact on clearing the fouled water. So your major quest for the latter part of the week is searching for clean water. Otherwise the water temperatures will probably stay in current range of 75-78. The tides will strengthen as the week progresses and we near the new moon.

BACKWATER: As outlined in the Conditions section, the quest back here this week will be finding clean water and getting enough tide depth to get there. Got a couple of reports this past week that there are still some bigger (take home) sheepsheads holding in spots where the water is deeper and cooler. Remember the temperature as displayed on your fishfinder represents the temperature where the transducer is located (top water)…….if you find depths of 10-15’ in backwater holes the temps at the deeper depth may be 5-6 degrees cooler…..and that’s what the bigger sheepshead are looking for to finish spawn…… go deep in places like Rookery Bay or deeper holes along the ICW for final winter action. Another action possibility in what promises to be a tough week back here is the whiting / silver trout action. These are both good action smaller species that are 1) fun to catch on a tad a shrimp on a jig head 2) good table fare and 3) have no size limit and a never-to-reach bag limit. Find them off any of the beaches and in moderately (7-10 foot) depth. There has been some mackerel action in Capri Pass by the outer markers when the tide is strong and the water clean……which probably won’t happen post this weekend. But if water cleans work Mack’s with flashy tipped jigs on a tidal drift.

NEARSHORE: Conditions permitting and keep a eye on NOAA setting small craft warnings. Water will not be as tainted here as backwater but will still be effected. Reef spots south and west of the Island are probably best bets. The Isaac Walton reef is worth a shot working the bottom with tipped jig heads under chum for activated lane and mangrove snapper as well as escaping sheepshead heading west. Also the infamous Five Mile Reef is always worth a try……water could be a tad cleaner there. Also might try some live bait (pinfish) on major tackle just off the bottom for possible returning pelagic action. Plus always a chance for grouper here especially on the sunken barges on the SE corner of the complex.

OFFSHORE: Be able to get to cleaner water here starting about 15 miles out……some smaller wrecks noted on the Hot Spots charts that will produce some nice snapper catches on weighted tipped jigs worked under chum. If fishfinder shows bait schools holding off structure (wreck) might want to try a freelined live bait (blue runner) on wire under chum. Chance the early migration arrivals will be hungry. The stone crab pots are about a month away from removal….so keep an eye open as you move between spots for sunning tripletail on the surface. If sighted; slow and double back working the surface adjacent to the marker with a tipped dark color jig on medium strength tackle.

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… 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 .