Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 19, 2016 – February 25, 2016

CONDITIONS:

Unfortunately, weather is not the only condition we are dealing with now that influences our fishing now. Allow me to quickly explain.  The Corp of Army Engineers are releasing hundreds of thousands of tainted gallons of fresh water, that have overfilled Lake Okeechobee right into the Caloosahatchee River that has run west and impacted our fishing from Ft.Myers on west and south into our Gulf and inshore waters. These tainted waters are supposed to be released south into the Everglades water shed where the natural filtration in the Glades would clean it before it reaches Florida Bay. Sorry, to overburden you with this overarching issue but you will see the impact on the fish bite here until this tainted fresh water is assimilated. Otherwise, we have a week ahead that will be a bit weather friendly albeit with some chilly mornings but warming quickly. Wind will jump back with some gusty blasts mid week but the fronts / rains are gone. Tides are moderate with a stronger morning incoming than the more placid afternoon outgoing. The water temp should inch up to 63-65 by week end.

BACKWATER:

The expected great bite on mega sheepshead isn’t happening…….yet. Up and down water temperatures as well the west winds that muddied the water are highly suspected causal factors. If you try anyhow, there will be bait bucket emptying escapades with undersized sheepshead. With current conditions would recommend fishing tight to barnacle laden pilings on either tide with a tiny piece of fresh shrimp or crab and be patient…… It will take longer to get the action on the sheepshead started. Hopefully, you’ll see a few harvestable fish in the mix. As an alternative, give seatrout a try. Good spots are along the waterway enroute Keeywadin known as Calhoun Channel. Set up in 4-6′ of water and work either shrimp or tipped small jigs into the moving water just off the bottom. You need at least 15″ to take a trout but they are worth the effort for they are considered excellent table fare. The waters are still friendly to mangrove snapper all along the mangrove edges…..a whole shrimp here will do a better job than a tiny piece that you’ve been using along the waterways for the still elusive sheepshead.

NEARSHORE: 

Might have bit of a better chance out here……water could be a bit clearer but, unfortunately still fouled by the Okcachobee tainted water release. Pelagic top water fish (mackerel, bluefish, jacks) would probably have moved as far west as they needed to escape that influence. However bottom dwellers out here could have stayed their ground with more staid waters. Worth a try to work some of the first and second reefs, working cut crabs or tads of shrimp tight to the structure for sheepshead, snapper or trout. Might even see an occasional triggerfish out here.

OFFSHORE:

Red grouper has been the red hot bite of here for months. How they react to the tainted water infusion is an unknown. Good chance they will be reviled…….and if they are they will move to deeper water. On a hunch, would recommend moving out to the 70′ water hard bottom and deploy your baits of live pinfish or cut ladyfish on a drift in the faster moving current. Weather should cooperate early week…..so you should have a reasonable chance. Otherwise head out further west to some of the super deep wrecks to work amberjacks on a vertical drop of live bait into the wreck structure and hang on……some of these AJ’s will gross out at over 35 lbs.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 12, 2016 – February 18, 2016

CONDITIONS:

Looks like a front will be visiting late weekend through early week BUT most of the wind out of the east and less damaging to water clarity than westerly winds. Water, hopefully, will stay marginally clear and hold temperature in the 62-65 range which is just a bit above normal for us this time of year. Tides are mild with the absence of a moon phase with the morning outgoing a lot weaker than the afternoon incoming.

BACKWATER:

Action slower in the cooler and unsettled water conditions. Takes a bit of patience as you work for the bite. Sheepshead are the primary bite now with most catches sub keeper size. However there are locations that seem to be holding bigger fish…..the docks along the Marco River on the Capri side in the deeper holes; the Jolley Bridge structure; some of the docks along the west side of Hurricane Pass adjacent to Keeywadin Island. Work them with just a small piece of shrimp or cut crab (too large a bait gives them a chance to nibble off the edges and when you try to set….they get the bait and you get the cleaned hook back). Seatrout are active along the east side of Calhoun Channel on the ICW and will jump on a shrimp worked close to the bottom on the incoming tide. Later in the day try the grass flats in front of Johnson Bay or the flats centered in Henderson Creek just east of the Rookery Bay south entrance. Here the best is working a shrimp under a popper in 4-6 feet of water on a slow drift. Mangrove snapper are staying active and will take a whole shrimp worked into mangrove edge overhangs as long as there is tidal current running. Some redfish around but they are not schooled but singular. Best shot for a red would be in the far reach backwater in the last hour of the incoming tide working a freelined shrimp tight to the shallow edges.

NEARSHORE:

Sea conditions will be a factor here again this week. With white bait having moved deeper in the last few weeks, the mackerel and associates have moved out there with them. Start your Mack hunt in 30-40′ on top water over marked bottom structure with tipped top water jigs worked over a good chum effort. Could well be bluefish, ladyfish and, unfortunately, blue runners in the mix. Bottom action out here could be very good with sheepshead on the move inshore as well as on mangrove snapper moving to a bit warmer water. Best rig for both of these species would be just a bit of shrimp on a circle hook worked vertically on a soft lift technique.

OFFSHORE:

Will be cleaner water out here but watch the local weather forecast to insure you have stable conditions ahead. There are still some kings and cobia out on the deeper wrecks but they are moving south as the water temperature now continues to decline. Worth a brief try working a wreck with a live runner under chum. Big action continues on red grouper anywhere from 8-9 miles on out over hard bottom on a drift with a live pinfish or cut ladyfish worked tight to the bottom. Keep that reel drag ratcheted tight to prevent your strike getting back into it’s bottom lair. You can keep two of these red grouper per day. Harvest length is 20″ overall.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 5, 2016 – February 11, 2016

CONDITIONS:

More unsettled weather conditions on the way. Cold fronts seem to be arriving weekly and this coming week is no exception. Look for brisk westerly winds with advancing rain/showers come early week followed by plunging air temperatures…….getting old both for us and the fish. The fish are here but adverse to comfortable feeding with the see-saw temperatures and riled up water. Add to that a strong new moon tide that will see the morning incoming max out at a 3.5′ range but the afternoon ebb a bit friendlier in the 2.0′ span. The water quality should be just marginal with the cleaner water showing on the outgoing tide. The water temperature should dip a bit and be close to 61-62 degrees by week end.

BACKWATER:

Some courageous smaller snook are still active even in the sub seventy degree water. With the strong morning incoming tide worth a shot to hit the fast current points in Johnson and Addison Bays with pinfish, live shrimp or artificials on the flood tide. Fun to catch but out of season and too small……careful release please. Still some redfish around. Not schooling now but trying to subsist on well presented bait in the best warmth of the day. Try the shallow edges of Rookery Bay with a freelined live shrimp in the last hour of the incoming….worth a shot. Sheepshead are here; mostly smaller breeders now that will take a tad of shrimp or cut crab worked on a soft lift technique. The mega size breeders have yet to invade the territory. If their cycle replicates prior years, they will show in late February and “do their thing” until late March. Trout are staying active even with the tumultuous weather. The east side of the Calhoun Channel (north of Isle of Capri) has a sea grass bottom and holds the trout action very well. A live shrimp freelined in 4-6 should draw you some action. This is the time of the year that both silver trout and whiting show up to fill the species void. Work off any shoreline or deeper holes with a tad of shrimp on a jig to the bottom for some good action.

NEARSHORE:

Check the weather forecast before you plan a trip out here…….will be quite changeable this week. If doable, should be some nice action on some bigger sheepshead on the major reefs. The Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the Five Mile Reef should provide reasonable chance on sheepshead that will be bigger than the ones now frequenting inshore. Also might find some mangrove and lane snapper here in the deeper warmer water working while shrimp or tipped jigs to the bottom under chum. Have also had reports of some small schools of mackerel showing up out here on the stronger incoming tide. Work tipped top water jigs for these guys.

OFFSHORE:

Ditto on cautions regarding sea conditions out here this week. Inside reefs (8-12 miles west) are holding some nice mangrove and lane snapper that are being taken on tipped weighted jigs worked under chum. Careful: quite a few mutton snapper are in the mix; the keeper size on the mutton a is 16″. Sheepshead to mega breeder size are also beginning to show out here and best worked with shrimp / cut crabs on a vertical lift. In the 9-11 mile range, the red grouper bite is still the offshore rage. Great action with live pinfish / sand perch worked tight to hard bottom on a drift. Gag grouper in the mix; carefully release as they are out of season until mid year.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

January-29-2016-February-4-2016

CONDITIONS:

Certainly nothing placid with this early winter weather. Fronts are frequent and strong; changing temperatures often and churning up the water clarity. All tough circumstances for those who fish. This coming week is marked with rather serene conditions early week but ends with another frontal passage. Water quality should clean up and the hellacious winds become placid until that late week front. However, with all that upbeat news, it gets dampened with a week of almost nonexistent tides……especially the morning ebb tide which is slated to move less than six inches in six hours late week mornings. Water temperature should inch up and be in the range of 63-64 by week end.

BACKWATER:

If the conditions hold stable this should be the first week of the sheepshead invasion. Have seen some bigger sheepshead in the Marco River working the docks and pilings along the CAPRI side of the river this past week and that should spread out this week. Have to be patient….work a spot for at least 15 minutes before you pull anchor. Use a very small piece of fresh shrimp or cut crab…..not a lot hanging away from the hook point and use the soft lift technique where you lift the rod five or six inches so the bait has some movement on the bottom. Good chance there will be black drum working the same spots and taking the same bait…..they have the same black and white markings as the sheepshead but have a 14” minimum. Seatrout is also active in these cooler water conditions. Early in the day look for them in the deeper holes in any of the Passes and along the the ICW towards Naples. You can work them with shrimp laden lindy rigs worked to the bottom on cast and slow retrieve very slowly in this cold water. There are still some redfish around and active. Best shot for them will be in the last hour of incoming water in the far reach mangroves working freelined shrimp tight to shallow water mangrove overhangs.

NEARSHORE:

With the cooler water temps inshore, the white bait schools have vamoosed these inshore waters for deeper warmer conditions offshore…….thus their prime predators have moved with them. Look for mackerel now in the 30-40′ depth range still feeding on the moving bait. Best shot is working tipped to water jigs over a good chum slick. Very weak tides may be a problem this and if so run that jig 100′ behind the boat on a 5-6 it troll. Bottom fishing should hold some good early season sheepshead action. Most any structure will be holding these fish. Work on a vertical drop with just a tad of shrimp or crab right tight to the structure with a soft lift technique. Also good chance here for lane snapper, triggerfish or trout.

OFFSHORE:

Conditions should be improved out here. Winds are down and sea conditions are moderate…..water clean. Only issue will be the weaker tides. Red grouper haven’t slowed down a bit. Bite continues hot 8-10 miles west of Capri Pass in 45-50′ over hard bottom working cut ladyfish / live pinfish tight to the bottom outcroppings. Can be gag grouper mixed in. They are a great fight but are out of season for the next few months and must be released. Deeper wrecks and reefs still holding a number of late migrating kingfish. Work them with live bait under chum or on a slow troll with a large flashy spoon worked at a 10-15 depth.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

January 22, 2016 – January 28, 2016

CONDITIONS

For our seasonal residents that thought that winter wasn’t going to happen here this year…….whoops!. It’s here now with a vengeance. Chilly for us folks but a plus for the winter fishing. Species that perform well in cold water are in the process of arriving and feeding as we speak. Forecasts don’t show much of a break in the cold and colder pattern, so things should be frequent as far as fronts go but stable overall. Basically cold and windy. This week starts out with the surface water temperature at 63 and trending down as the cold nights continue. The tides drawn by a full moon early week will have a strong morning incoming and a strengthening afternoon outgoing. The winds and fronts will descend again starting Saturday with strong west winds that will surely foul the water for the ensuing 36 hours at least.

BACKWATER

You won’t have to look very hard for your take-home sheepshead. They have arrived. They will be thick along the beaches and in all the passes and the origination point of all connecting waterways. In the days that follow they will spread to most of the inshore waters. Most now will be at least minimum keeper size. Technique is important with sheepshead who hold the record for bait stealing. Use a lindy rig (snelled 1/0 hook tied beneath a size 7 swivel with a 3/4 oz weight threaded on the line resting on the top of the swivel) worked by lifting it frequently 5-6″ off the bottom; if you feel weight on your rod set with a short (5-6″) yank. Then retrieve not allowing the rod to dip down and slack the line. Sheepshead minimum harvest size is 12″ overall length with the tail squeezed. Should also see upgraded activity on sea trout in the deeper holes early on small tipped jigs and then moving to the sea grass flats in the afternoon shallow water “warmth” jumping on shrimp strung under a popper on a drift. Other “activity upticks” in pompano in Hurricane Pass and Capri Pass in clean water tides with small tipped jigs worked tight to the bottom.

NEARSHORE

Need your forecasts this week; couple periods of high wind  and rain could make for a rough trip. The cold turn to water temps could well as sent the pelagics scattering south……along with the assembled white bait. So, big “stuff” may have vacated the premises. Your new target should logically be the cold water sheepshead / black drum that are moving inshore to spawn. Good spots are the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the Five Mile Reef complex further west. If the sheepshead population has arrived you’ll know it short order with the accelerating action level. (Check the backwater section for the technique to be used out here as well). The Capri Barges always seem to draw mackerel as the water chills this time of year. Certainly worth a shot working tipped top water jigs over chum into the moving tide.

OFFSHORE

Conditions permitting. Pick your day and time to avoid nasty wind and sea conditions. Red grouper will remain the top target through this change in weather conditions. Only difference is that they will move to their water comfort range……where deeper is warmer. So your starting depth over those hard bottom spots should move deeper ……from 40′-50′ to 50′-60′ working cut ladyfish or threads tight to hard bottom on a drift. Gag grouper will be in your window of opportunity but they are out of season and must be released. Reef spots closer inshore will give you a chance at some nice lane snapper working weighted tipped under chum.

 

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

January 15, 2016 – January 21, 2016

CONDITIONS:

Winter is here….in a modified version with chilly overnights and warming days which should continue through this week. Add to that some hellacious frontal wind over this weekend and we’ll have tough fishing conditions. If there is a good side to those factors it will be that the water temperatures will continue to decline and, hopefully, finally trigger our winter species to take action. Look for the water temperature to range between 65 and 67 by week end and then hold there and stabilize the conditions for the fishery. Some of the tough winds over the weekend will gust to 30 knots and most will be out of the west. Look for fouled (muddy) water especially on the incoming tides….and avoid it. The tides are moderate with a weak morning outgoing and a stronger PM incoming. Overall……weather conditions will stir things up this week.

BACKWATER:

Good chance we will see the first run of mega spawning sheepshead in the Passes and along the Marco River and connecting waterways this week. Their usual haunts will be in amongst the barnacle laden pilings in deeper holes with bottom structure. Best baits are a small piece of fresh shrimp or fiddler crab worked right on the bottom with a soft lift technique (bait to bottom….slow lift 5-6 inches to move bait across the bottom…..repeat…..when tip of rod bends…..set with a compact pull). Cool down should also excite the seatrout action in close in places like the ICW up along the edges of Calhoun Channel; the north end of Canon Island south of ICW marker red #28 and between the docks on Keeywadin Island across from the Naples Boat Club Facility. Take trout on whole shrimp under a popper or on artificial touts. Snook action will slow dramatically but you may see an occasional juvenile. Redfish action will improve and you’ll see more individual fish (not schooled up). Work far reach mangrove edges in the last hour of incoming tides with freelined shrimp. Action on the ever-popular whiting and silver trout will kick in working small tipped jigs off the beaches or in the deeper holes along the various waterways.

NEARSHORE:

Forecasted sea conditions will be tough over the weekend. Should improve mid week forward. Pelagic action continues to hold on bait schools in 30-40′ depths. Mackerel, bluefish, small kings on bottom structure can be worked with tipped top water jigs worked over chum in good tidal current. Bottom action should also begin to show the arrival of the bigger spawning sheepshead in places like the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass; the northwest and southeast corners of the Five Mile Reef Complex and the various Capri Pass barges. Sheepshead on shrimp / crabs as explained in this week’s Backwater Section. With the lingering warmth of the SW Florida coast, good chance there are some major pelagics still heading south to the Keys……so keep a live blue runner or threadfin herring out in the running current. Still a chance for a cobia or kingfish to come along and surprise.

OFFSHORE:

Marginal sea conditions out here this week. Be careful. But if you do get out you’ll find continued hot action on red grouper. Now, with the chill down, the Reds will move to the warmth. Warmer water is deeper water……so good chance they have slid west to 50′ of water over hard bottom at about 9-11 miles offshore (federal waters) which has reopened for harvest of reds effective 1/1/2016. Harvest size is 20″O and the bag limit is 2 per person. Work the Reds with live pinfish or cut ladyfish tight to the outcroppings in the hard bottom at anchor or on a drift. Bottom fishing can also produce sheepshead, lane snapper and triggerfish this time of year on weighted tipped jigs.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

January 8, 2016 – January 14, 2016

CONDITIONS:

It’s more back and forth weather conditions. The cool week turned warm for a couple days but will dip and hold a temperature range of 65 – 55 by late week. That will chill the water down a bit……moving it from the low seventies to the mid sixties. Don’t think that will be enough to trigger a turn on of traditional winter fishing but at least it looks like it will be consistent. There is more periods of rain during the week, so keep a watch on your on-line weather before you start the engine. The tides are passing through a new moon period and will be stronger than normal. Look for a stronger morning incoming than an afternoon ebb tide. Winds all week are classified as moderate to strong with variable direction. Waters should stay reasonably clean but don’t bet on it.

BACKWATER:

Still haven’t triggered the mega sheepshead move inshore. Have some 12″ (barely) spawners showing but very few. Most of the sheepshead action is sub-harvest size. Conditions forecast for this week looks like nothing is going to much change. You’ll get lots of action but not a lot of sheepies in the box. Better chance is on mangrove that are staying summer active along all the waterway edges tight to the mangrove overhangs on both tides working shrimp with great patience. Small snapper are always there but the big ones seem to hold off until the tides slow which is usually a half hour or so on either side of slack water. But you always have a shot at something else. Redfish are still active but not as numerous as they were in the late fall. The shallow mangrove edges as the incoming tide ends working shrimp under a popper would be the best chance of success. There are still some seatrout around and active feeding early in the deep cuts along the Marco River and connecting waterways. Here you’ll need tipped jigs or touts worked deep in the cuts on morning incoming tide. Bottom line: not the greatest of fishing conditions……but be persistent and patient for results.

NEARSHORE:

Conditions are indefinite, so you’ll want to pay attention to local forecasts this week. Gag grouper are active inshore as the water cools but harvest is closed until July 1st. Fun to catch and carefully release now. Seeing some mackerel, so get that chum bag in the water and begin working those top water jigs right up top avoiding the runners and jacks typically holding below. And always a chance here now to find a migrating kingfish or cobia feeding on the enormous bait schools. Keep a live blue runner on wire in the slick for the kings and ready rod with live threadfin if the curious cobia show up on the surface.

OFFSHORE:

With conditions stable for that deep water trip you’ll want to jump on the sustaining opportunity for red grouper now open in both state and federal waters. Working a live pinfish or cut ladyfish on hard bottom anywhere from seven miles on out should get you great action. With totally open waters, you should have no trouble hooking up with some nice size harvestable red grouper. Good to great table fare and you can harvest two 20″ per day. Deep wrecks for amberjack which are one of the toughest fights in the salt using a live bait worked vertically right into the wreck for the best chance of a hook up.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

January 1, 2016 – January 7, 2016

CONDITIONS:

Endless summer continues here in SW Florida. That nice warm air and brilliant sunshine may put a smile on your face but it has confused the fish and knocked them off their activity this late 2015. The unusual heat will continue into the weekend and then by Sunday we’ll see a change. A moderate front will bring a day of rain followed by a chill down with morning air temps in the 50’s that morph into 70 degree afternoons and will probably drop the water temp from it’s current 75 degrees down to just a tad under 70. It’s a cool down but without the intensity to get the fish species back in sync. The winds behind the front will hold easterly and strong most of the week churning up the backwaters especially the outgoing. And to cap it off the tides will be virtually non-existent both ways until the end of the week.

BACKWATER:

The major inhabitant that we count on as great action i.e the spawning sheepshead is still holding in the cooler water offshore. If you target them in the backwaters now you will empty your bait bucket with 10″ fish. Better to hold off and see if January weather normalizes for the “sheepies”. Better bet is to focus on the still numerous mangrove snapper working the shoreline spots at low water and ganging up along the mangrove edges at high water. Good chance at some keepers here using small whole shrimp or netted white bait. You might even see some nice size flounder in your mix. Both species are great table fare. There are hordes of white bait holding locally that show up in Capri Pass and the first inshore portion of the Marco River…..their arrival is announced by arriving pelagics from mackerel, pompano, kingfish chasing the bait and diving gulls and Pelicans gobbling up the leftovers. Try to drift through this melee working either a tipped jig down 10-15′ or a live or cut bait 10′ off the bottom. You may get surprised at the action and possibility of getting something to take home.

NEARSHORE:

With the forecasted conditions going in the tank late weekend……..best to get your trip in Friday, Saturday or early Sunday. Those same hordes of bait move back nearshore on the outgoing tide and in turn attract some major pelagics nearshore (kingfish and cobia) and some of the minor species (mackerel and bluefish). You’ll need chum to draw and hold the action and live bait on stout leader to get them aboard. Key spots are the Capri Pass wrecks / barges ; Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the three corner spots on the Five Mile Reef. If you switch over to bottom fishing do the chum thing again and work weighted tipped jigs into the slick……lane and mangrove snapper, flounder, triggerfish and maybe a seatrout or two will be your targets here.

OFFSHORE:

Ditto on your timing out deep with a front coming through. Go Early ! Red grouper have been the “go to” species this year. Most cannot remember a better year of results, both catch and keep,  on this delectable species. AND the Feds have reopened the federal waters for red grouper harvest effective January 1, 2016. That means you are not restricted with a nine mile offshore limit which should go hand-in-hand with even better results starting this week. Simple process; live pinfish / cut ladyfish on a drift over hard bottom with stout gear and a ratcheted down drag setting. Second good news: the amberjack harvest season has reopened. AJ’s hold deep on wrecks and can be had by dropping live bait vertically right into the wreck structure and “hang on” many of these AJ’s can go 30# plus.

From all the Captains….here’s to all our readers for a Happy and Healthy 2016 for all!

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 18, 2015 – December 24, 2015

CONDITIONS:

Unusual weather conditions continue to prevail. Here we are in the middle of December with a water temperature hovering between 73 and 75. Unprecedented to say the least. Fish are puzzled as to where they belong……..more on that when we get into the fishing sectors following. This week we will have a rough front come early weekend that will rough up the waters with lots of wind and some downward movement of air temperatures. Then it eases off mid-week until the rough weather resurges over Christmas. The tidal strength eases off thankfully with the afternoon incoming a bit stronger than the AM mild outgoing. Water clarity will take a beating from the windy conditions with the outgoing more churned up than the incoming.

BACKWATER:

The weather conditions have the fishing in the backwaters confused. Various species are unsettled with the unusual water warmth. Right now the bigger sheepshead should be moving inshore as water temps dip……..but they are holding offshore. Seatrout should be super active but, although they show an uptick in activity, they are nowhere near normal winter activity levels. Best action is on the warm water favorite mangrove snapper. They are feeding best as the fast tides ease on either side of slack along most mangrove edges taking a small shrimp worked slowly across the bottom. Pompano are also a primary target fish now and showing in both Capri and Hurricane Passes on either end of clear water tides. Work the pomps on a drift with small tipped jigs bounced along the bottom. There is lots of sheepshead activity on backwater spots but almost all are juvenile size that just help empty your bait bucket. Best to wait till almost slack water and work tight to bottom structure……if there is a rogue keeper that’s where and when you’ll find them.

NEARSHORE:

The repeated surges of wind strength this week may make the Gulf sea conditions a bit uncomfortable this week. The inshore reefs in depths of 25-35′ are temporary havens for sheepshead avoiding the backwater heat. Good chance spots like the Five Mile Reef complex and the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass will provide a good sheepshead bite with a fair to good chance at some take homes. Work the fish with just a tad of shrimp or cut crab on a soft lift technique tight to the bottom structure. On those same spots you may also see mangrove snapper still on their feed as well as some flounder and a triggerfish or two. All of those species as delights on the dinner table and well worth the effort. Those major reef spots holding lots of white bait can also be havens for the southbound migrating pelagics. You’ll want to keep a blue runner or a jack crevelle in the water on wire leader, especially if you’re using chum. You might light into a cobia or a kingfish hungry and heading south._

OFFSHORE:

Again, conditions permitting. Best action possibility here remains targeting red grouper in state waters defined as from 0-9 miles offshore (Harvest for red grouper closed in federal waters now).  Red grouper action has been good to excellent and sustained at that level most of this year. You’ll need some live pinfish for bait and major tackle to work the hard bottom areas due west of Capri Pass on a drift. Get the pinfish tight to the bottom outcroppings on stout tackle with drag down tight. With pelagic migration south underway also presents an opportunity to tackle some big cobia / kingfish feeding on deeper wrecks. There you will need larger live bait (blue runners / jacks ) worked under chum.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 11, 2015 – December 17, 2015

CONDITIONS:

Finally, we have a week where things are easing back to normal, if you can call mid afternoon air temperatures of eighty degrees in mid December normal. The better normals are an absence of thunderstorms; a lessening of ripping winds and a return to average strength tides. So, hopefully, this week will be the “start of something big”.  Look for the winds to lie down to at least a customary 8-12 knots and blow primarily from the east / northeast. That will be the primary factor in keeping the water clean…….at least the incoming. The outgoing could could still get tossed around and picking up some brown haze. The easing of storm conditions will also aid in cleaning the the water crucial to the early winter bite and last but not least the slower tides will enhance the catch probabilities with less raging tidal flow. So, let’s see how it goes; this coming week will be a clue as to how our important mid-winter fishing is going to work out.

BACKWATER:

Backwater species have two activity triggers …….first is cycle of the year and the second is water temperature. For example, nature is telling the bigger sheepshead spawners that this is winter and get ready to have at it and the water temperature trigger is telling them “whoa” the water temperatures are too warm so hold on. That happens for every species. And as we turn the corner into the winter solstice the fall of the water temperatures will be the key. This past week we have begun to see some winter species peek their noses out. You see nice speckled trout showing in the sea grass bottom shallow spots like West Johnson Bay edges; Addison Bay by the eastern most navigation marker and the Rookery Bay /Henderson Creek flats. Action is there using a shrimp under a popper on a shallow water drift. The whiting and seatrout are also beginning to show along the deeper holes on the ICW heading to Naples using a tipped jig to the bottom. These are two frequently overlooked species……great table fare with no regulatory size limit or bag limit. Add to the list….black drum……spawning sheepshead….flounder……to add to the continuing action on mackerel, pompano and snapper. And all that will happen when the water continues to chill down

NEARSHORE: 

The benefit out here on the condition change to winter hopefully will periods of reasonable east winds to keep the sea from engulfing your fishing expedition. With flat seas you’ll see the white bait explosions above the mackerel bite more clearly (and the same for the telltale diving birds). You can work those eruptions working tipped top water jigs right to the perimeter of the action pools on a fast retrieve. Could also see bluefish, jacks and little tunny in the mix working the white bait on either tide. The weather north of us in the Florida Panhandle is obviously cooler than SW Florida so the pelagics summering there are in process of heading back to the Keys…….they go through our nearshore and offshore waters and are feeding. Good chance at spots like the Five Mile Reef and the CAPRI Barges to capture one of these delectable creatures. A pinfish on stout leader and circle hook worked under chum could well do it this time of year. Average size of a cobia now would be between 20-30# and a memorable fight.

OFFSHORE:

Ditto out here deep on the benefit of light winds and flat seas. Grouper has been the go-to-fish out here all year and it will continue into the winter season but only in state waters defined as 0-9 miles off the nearest point of the mainland. The Feds closed their deep water portion a couple months back. But, no sweat,…….work the range of 7-9 mile hard bottom due west of Capri Pass with a live pinfish or cut lady fish on a drift or anchored up with chum. Note: gag grouper are now closed to harvest in both domains…..state and federal.