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.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 4, 2015 – December 11, 2015

CONDITIONS:

As we start this period we are in the midst of a stalled front delivering rain through the weekend which will be followed by some significant wind. Not good fishing conditions. But that all settles down post weekend. Those winds, again, will be easterly and kind to the fishing conditions. You may see the waters kicked up a bit in the backwater bays and flats especially on the outgoing tides but the incoming should be clean and green. With the lunar phase heading to a new moon at the end of the period you’ll find a very mild morning outgoing tide followed by a moderately robust PM incoming. But neither side is really racing. The early week frontal passage will add another slight dip to the water temps and you should see the first 60 degree water this week.

BACKWATER:

As noted last week, the key factor now controlling species availability is the changing water temperature. As the temperature continues to fall it provides a trigger for many of the species available here to either depart for warmer water or head our way. You should see the snook bite slowing as the linesiders like 70 degrees and above. The bigger snook will slow their feed first and the juveniles some weeks after. Redfish should act the opposite and turn on as the water cools down, especially now in their spawning period. Should see good to great action in the Bay’s i.e. Rookery, Johnson, and Addison working the shallow edges late in the tides with shrimp freelined or set out under a popper. You’ll also notice that it’s much harder to find those big keeper snapper now as conditions change……lots of little ones around however. Best technique on the “take home” snapper is to work the half hour on either side of slack water on you’re favorite spot. The cool down will influence species like sheepshead, black drum, flounder, whiting, seatrout, to kick into action and you may begin to see these species in the weeks ahead.

NEARSHORE:

As conditions settle down post front, look for good action along the first and second string of reefs on pelagics like the mackerel, bluefish, jacks and lady fish out there attacking the bait schools that move into place as fall / winter conditions kick in. Can get into the action in two ways. First, is to stay mobile and work the edges of the surface eruptions of bait and diving birds with a top water jig either cast or trolled on the perimeter of the action. The alternative is to anchor up on a reef spot, toss over a netted block of chum and work those same jigs in the slick that will be drawing and holding those pelagics in the slick. Either method works. But if you chose to anchor up you might have a good chance for something bigger by setting out a live bait running ten feet or so off the bottom. Those cooler water temperatures here are cold up in Florida Panhandle where cobia, kingfish, permit have been summering and they are in transit past here as they feed heading to the winter warmth in the Keys. With a bait in the water you always have a chance.

OFFSHORE:

As has been the case here for months, the best opportunity in deeper water has been on red grouper. With the harvest closure continuing at least until 2016 in federal waters, you’ll be limited to working state waters (0-9 miles from the closest point of land) over hard bottom working a live pinfish or cut lady fish tight to the structure. Keep the drag tight on your reel because the first reaction from the hooked fish is to dive back into it’s hole……once there, it doesn’t come back. Red grouper need to be 20″ overall length to harvest and you can keep two per day.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

November 27, 2015 – December 3, 2015

CONDITIONS:

We are on the backside of the first late fall cold front with cooler temperatures and a resurgent wind. Thankfully that wind which holds at about 15 knots and gusts to 25 knots is emanating out of the east / northeast which keeps the incoming water clean albeit it stirs up the outgoing tidal water. Forecasts show that  those conditions will hold until after the weekend and then ease as the week progresses. No fronts are forecast for the period. The water temperature has tumbled into the 74 – 76 degrees range and holding. The tides are coming off a full moon and ease considerably as the period progresses……. Morning incoming stronger than the afternoon and evening outgoing.

BACKWATER:

The water temperature drop is the key feature in changing our fishing opportunities as we finally enter the fall season. Here we are seeing a change in activity with some specie activity tailing off and some other kicking in. For example…..you will see the hot mangrove snapper  bite begin to tail off replaced by more sheepshead and seatrout action. Will still be some snapper action but most will be smaller. Other species will pick up activity as the water temperatures stabilize. Look for more consistent pompano action in the Passes on both tides. Hurricane Pass, Capri Pass and Caxambas Pass will all show an uptick on pompano action especially in the first and last hours of either tide using either shrimp on a lindy rig or tipped jig worked to the bottom on a drift. Both silver trout and speckled trout to good size are active now along the deeper holes of the Intercoastal Waterway between here and Naples and biting best on small tipped jigs worked on the strong incoming tide. As the water warms in the afternoon they will move off to the shallow flats with seagrass bottoms near Johnson and Rookery Bays. Your sheepshead targets are now a shade bigger and you have a good chance for for 12-13″ take homes ( the spawners arrive in January and easily go 15-18″). Work these with patience and a small shrimp or cut crab bait worked very slowly, in the cooler water, across the bottom. Other species that have begun to poke their heads into the action pool are flounder, whiting, and black drum. So, bottom line, you’re into a whole new facet of the great fishing here on Marco Island.

NEARSHORE:

Careful on the sea condition here at least early week. Could be bouncy. Mackerel have taken their position as primaries here on the nearshore reefs and a bit beyond. With scads of bait roaming the inside reefs the mackerel are super active. They are driving the bait to the surface over those reefs enticing the gulls and terns into action as the mackerel and bluefish drive the bait schools to the surface. Would suggest staying mobile and working the edges of the surface bait eruptions with top water jigs worked quickly. Other alternative is running a troll, again through the edges of the action pool with jigs or flashy spoons. Bottom action continues on nice mangrove snapper, some triggerfish and flounder along the reefs. All on weighted tipped jigs under chum. Also this is the last call for gag grouper who move inshore in the cooler water as their season here closes (again) on 12/3/15. Best on the gags is slow trolling a magnum jointed plug just 4-5′ above the bottom.

OFFSHORE:

The cooler conditions will trigger some different actions here also. It gets a lot cooler north of us in the Florida Panhandle where the pelagics summer and they will be “pulling the cork” and heading south to the Keys. So here come the kingfish,cobia, permit and tarpon heading south. The deep wrecks will be the primary beneficiaries of the reverse migration. So, go deep (if conditions permit) and work the deeper wrecks and reefs with live bait worked under chum. All will take a well presented live bait worked under chum. Live bait fish for the cobia, King and tarpon. A live small crab will do it for the permit

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

November 20, 2015 – November 26, 2015

CONDITIONS:

Moving into late fall and we still have summer like conditions. We will be moving into some frontal conditions this weekend but it is still super warm. Look for mild winds and temperatures through early Sunday with some accompanying showers and occasional heavy rain and then the “cold front” appears with steady winds in the teens and gusts to the mid twenties…..all from the east / northeast that will extend through the Thanksgiving holiday. The weekend showers should chase anglers home and the windy conditions may keep them there. Although there should be some good to very good fishing opportunities with the winds staying east and northeast and chilling down the water temperatures. Another plus is the full moon come the holiday that is unusually mild….so you should have moderate tide movement through the week. Water temperatures the then are tumbling slightly into the mid seventies. All in all the water should stay clean and the change in temperatures could restart some action on fall species…….flounder, sheepshead, redfish and black drum.

BACKWATER:

The rather mild front may upset fishing conditions through the early part of the week but then the backwaters should settle down.  Look for some resurgent redfish activity here as the water temperatures slide down. As the reds move back into the bay ( Rookery, Addison and Johnson) work the mid tides in the shallower bays with a tipped light jig over the shallower grasses and then move into the mangrove edges in the late incoming working shrimp under a popper up into the shaded overhangs. There will still be some snook around but most will be juveniles and exciting on the catch but must be carefully released. Snook fall for live bait (pilchards, sardines, threadfin) freelined into edges where there is good current movement. In the Passes look for the pelagics  to return in the cooler water on the first and last parts of either tide. Pompano and mackerel, along with jacks and blue runners should show as they transit the exit and entrance to the backwaters. Work them on small tipped jigs worked close to the bottom. Bottom fishing along the mangrove edges should be good for late season mangrove snapper, flounder, black drum and early season sheepshead. All on shrimp or cut crabs worked into edges and bottom structure.

NEARSHORE:

Sea conditions could be a bit dicey here post weekend but should level out late week. Look for pelagic action (mackerel, bluefish, jacks and runners) to pick up as things settle down. Setting up on structure and getting a good chum effort going may get you good action on all four species. All four are fun to catch; mackerel is the best amount the four for the table. As the seasonal chill takes hold in the Florida Panhandle you may see as urge in the southerly migration even in the nearshore waters with cobia and small kings showing up in your domain. Keep both a live bait in the water and a live bait rigged on a standby rod aboard. The Kings will dive on a soaked bait and the cobia will show on the surface anticipating a live bait surface tossed their way.

 OFFSHORE:

Conditions permitting at least through mid week. Red grouper remain open in state waters are are showing as quite plentiful. Work the waters at the state water outside edge (seven to nine miles offshore) working a live pinfish or cut ladyfish tight to the hard bottom spots on a drift. Gag grouper, still harvestable till 12/3, are a bit deeper in federal waters and can be caught using the same techniques. On the deeper wrecks, good chance of some of the migrating pelagics (cobia, kingfish and permit) showing on the deeper wrecks and jumping on live bait worked under chum.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

November 6, 2015 – November 12, 2015

CONDITIONS:

Winds are diminished over what they were the past few weeks. Still will be dealing with some gusts to the mid teens from time to time but, thankfully, they all will be east and southeast. That will keep the water, especially the early morning and late afternoon incoming tide clean and green. The mid day outgoing will probably pick up some of the tannic brown color but still should be OK. The tides are going to a new moon come late week but are surprisingly docile…..almost all the tides are under the 2.0 foot range meaning you’ll be able to fish both ways every day. The water temp, cooled in the evening and night and warmed during the hot afternoons is holding in the 77-79 range which is another plus.

BACKWATER:

We just might be coming into one of our best fishing weeks.With easing winds and a moderate tide in early fall conditions, a lot could be in store in the backwater. Clean water will bring the long absent mackerel into the Capri, Caxambas and Hurricane Passes chasing the mammoth schools of bait surging back and forth. And there usually will be some small bluefish mixed in and working the same food. Work both species with flashy tipped jigs on wire leader (both species are toothy) in the top water. Also in the same Passes a good chance the long awaited pompano schools will show. They can be worked with a little heavier jigs, tipped with shrimp and worked close to the bottom on a drift. Bottom fishing along the mangrove edges is still producing some nice size mangrove snapper along with some early season mid-size sheepshead. Here you’ll need some Linda rigs loaded with pieces of fresh shrimp worked tight to the bottom. And last but not least, we still have the redfish active. Best venues for the reds has been the edges of the major bays i.e. website uptime . Johnson, Rookery and Addison working whole shrimp either freelined or under a popper tight to the shallower, shaded mangrove overhangs near the top of the tides.

 NEARSHORE:

Things should be upbeat here as conditions stabilize this week. Look for the surface indicators of bird action and surface bait eruptions which are the giveaway for the presence of pelagics; primarily mackerel and bluefish with jacks and blue runners tossed in. You can stay mobile and work the perimeters of the bait surges with tipped jigs or you can set up on structure holding bait and set block chum to draw the fish and work them with surface jigs or weighted jigs worked vertically. Bottom action out here should be on the upswing also. Wouldn’t be surprised to see some harvest size sheepshead begin to show on the major reefs (Walton, Five Mile and the Capri Barges) along with the expected lane and mangrove snapper, flounder and triggerfish. All on shrimp rigs or weighted jigs.

OFFSHORE:

The Feds closed red grouper harvest in federal waters until year end but, fortunately, state authorities have left our waters open. Red grouper are plentiful on hard bottom anywhere from 6-9 miles due west. (Stay inside the 9 mile limit to stay in open state water). You’ll need live pinfish worked tight to the hard bottom areas for your best chance for success. Gag grouper are open in both domains until 12/3/15 and should be increasingly active as the water cools. Same bait and technique for the gags. Deep water wrecks are beginning to see the first vestiges of the north to south migration with some cobia and kingfish action being reported west and southwest of the island. Live bait and chum are the tickets for these larger pelagics.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

October 23, 2015 – October 29, 2015

CONDITIONS:

The tough winds are gone but we will have moderate winds from the east through the weekend and into the first part of next week…..and then hang onto your hat for late week as the winds will turn westerly (nasty) and kick back up to the twenty knot level. Those westerly winds here in this shallow domain stir up the muddy bottom and deliver water that rivals the color of Starbucks Cafe Latte and impacts the fishing big time. In addition we have a full moon tide come next Thursday with a morning incoming ranging close to 4′. The afternoon outgoing is much gentler. Water temperature is toying with the 78-80 degree level and starting the piscatorial fall activity.

BACKWATER:

Primary message here is to fish backwater early to mid week. After that, with the westerly winds the water quality will tank and so will the fishing quality. Redfish are staying active as fall moves in. Look for schools of reds….mostly medium size traversing the shallower open Bays (Johnson, Rookery with emphasis on Henderson Creek, Addison to Upper Addison) mid tide working artificials or small tipped jigs on the perimeter of the schools. Later, as the tide crests, move over to the shallower mangrove edges and work a shrimp under a popper up close to the tree overhangs. Even as we’re yet far away from the sheepshead spawning season, there are some take home sheepshead showing on the Keeywadin docks and structure. Also black drum in the early season mix. Both on small pieces of shrimp or fiddler crab tight to the encrusted structure. Pompano are day to day (depending on the water clarity) in both Capri Pass and Hurricane Pass working the first and last hours of either tide with small tipped jigs worked to the bottom.

NEARSHORE :

Conditions good through midweek. Avoid when the west winds kick in. White bait roaming the first reef structures.Moving quickly so stay mobile. Pelagic action following the bait. Stay mobile working small top water tipped jigs to the perimeter of bait eruptions and/or bird action. There you will find the mackerel and bluefish assaulting the bait schools and suckers for going after a small tipped jig worked quickly up near the surface. Of course you will need chum to draw and hold the action. Bottom action here is still pre-fall migration, so you’ll want to work for lane /mangrove snapper and perhaps a gag grouper on the structure you are working for the pelagics. Tipped weighted jigs will do the trick but be sure your rigs are immersed in the flow of the chum. Chance for some really good action.

OFFSHORE:

Sea conditions will tank late week. Still have good red grouper action in state waters ; Feds closed red grouper harvest in federal waters suddenly, with no prior notice two weeks ago. So set up at seven to eight mile hard bottom and work a live pinfish or cut ladyfish tight to the bottom on a drift on either tide. The gag grouper are out a little deeper and can be caught using the same bait and technique. Try a start in 50′ of water and work on a drift. The gag grouper are open to harvest until 12/3/15. Some trickle of the south migration has started. A few cobia have shown on the deeper wrecks and jumping on live runners and threadfins worked sight casting. The kingfish action can’t be far behind. Super deep wrecks still holding amberjack action on live bait dropped vertically into the wreck structure.

 

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

October 16, 2015 – October 22, 2015

CONDITIONS:

The devil in the weather mix this week will be WIND. A high pressure ridge north of us will send the winds scooting through here starting Sunday into the 20 mph category. Only positive thing about that is they will all be easterly / northeasterly. That will keep the gulf incoming waters clear but have some impact on our shallow backwaters and the outgoing tide will take a murky hit. Tides are moderately strong but no racing full / new moon tides to contend with. Air temperatures will remain warm and that will hold the water temp near stationary at 81-82 degrees. Lastly, expect some patches of rain mixed in when the wind arrives.

BACKWATER:

You would have to rate the backwater fishing quality as “day to day” and dependent on conditions i.e water color, water clarity, tide strength and temperature. On the good days, the redfish are out in droves and schooling in both sides of the lower water tides then sliding off to the mangrove edges on the high water tides. In both situations you can work the Reds with either a shrimp under a popper or plain freelined. We have also seen for the first time some keeper size sheepshead in the deeper holes adjacent to structure. They take the small pieces of shrimp you are using. We’re still a couple months away from seeing the hordes of sheepshead arrive for spawn. Also expect to see some nice size black drum arrive now and be present in some of the deeper holes. The mangrove snapper are still active and still playing the trick of not feeding until a half hour before and after slack water. Be there when the big ones come out to feed and you can limit out in 25-30 minutes.

NEARSHORE:

You can tell the white bait is returning to the first line of reefs et al but watching the number of sea birds surface feeding. That being the case you should spot lots of surface bait eruptions caused by pelagics feeding from beneath……..seeing a few of such events but not enough to prove the mackerel et al are here en masse. So best is to get yourself parked on a major reef (Walton, Five Mile, Capri Barges) where the bait is probably the thickest; set your chum and give it a chance to soak in then work the top water with tipped jigs. Beneath…..if we’re seeing some very early sheepshead in the backwater you may see them on the reefs also working a shrimp rig to the bottom. By product here also might be some nice lane and mangrove

OFFSHORE:

Even though the predicted winds are easterly, sea conditions could get a little dicey out here come Sunday on. Getting out there today or Saturday might be a smart idea. NEWS: the Feds closed the harvest of red grouper slam bang last week in federal waters (9 miles from closest point of land). So, you need to be sure where your location is…..exactly. Red grouper has remained the hands down favorite all summer and now into fall. You can get into the hard bottom where they hang out as close in as 7-8 miles. Look for the bottom surface eruptions which are telltales for the hard bottom and then work a heavy rig with a live pinfish right to the structure. Gag grouper will be out deeper in 55-60′ of water (the Feds did not close gags but their “season” ends 12/3/15 anyhow) and you work then with the same gear and bait. Worth a shot. Last but not least, we’re still a couple weeks away from the pelagics (cobia, Kings, permit) making their southbound fall migration. So keep a watch on fishing reports and be ready to go when the migration starts……it’s light’s out action all around.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

October 09, 2015 – October 15, 2015

CONDITIONS:

With the winds from the hurricane well out to sea and the tropical T-storms beginning to abate…….maybe this week we can get our fishing conditions back to normal. We have a way to go in cleaning up the tannic stained backwater as well as some of the mud bottom scraped up by those early week winds. The winds this week are moderate especially in the mornings but then some upsurge from late morning until nightfall – all has to do with the differential between the air and water temps. The moon will be fading to new late week but those high tide levels we experienced the last couple weeks are gone.  Tides this week will be livable. Water temp continues to ratchet down from near 90 late summer to 80-82 in most places this week.

BACKWATER:

October has always been the top redfish month and this years performance looks like a repeat. Although the excessive west winds stained the water last week, and slowed the good redfish bite that will change this week for sure as the water conditions stabilize. The reds are schooling in good size groups and move along the oyster bars and structured bottom on the lower half of both tides. You can work these schools by staying mobile and work top water artificials or tipped jigs ahead of their movement. Use mid weight gear especially if you run into one of the over limit size schools. On the top half of either tide move back along the mangrove edges circa Johnson Bay, Rookery Bay, Henderson Creek and Addison here. Here it’s a free lined shrimp worked into the shallow shaded mangrove edges. Shrimp under a popper works here to. Good chance that pompano and permit will show in the main Passes and cuts from Hurricane to Caxambas mainly showing in the first and last hour of either tide. Bottom fishing is interesting: still have the mangrove snapper working the shorelines but now you can add flounder, seatrout, and even some nice size black drum. All on shrimp worked to the  bottom.

NEARSHORE :

Big change here on conditions week to week. Should be flat with very productive tides both ways. Bait schools continue to arrive on major structure and the pelagics are never far behind. Mackerel is the dominant species in this group with bluefish and jacks not far behind. Key to locating the pelagic gang is twofold ……presence of bait on structure and a couple blocks of chum in your cooler. Having both will give you best chance for hot action. Get the chum in the water quickly and give it 15 minutes or so to work drawing the fish…..then go to work with top water tipped jigs worked right into the tide drawn slick. Bottom fishing remains strong on the circuit of reefs out at five miles (aka Five Mile Reef). Weighted jigs worked over chum a foot or so off the bottom will get you the best action.

OFFSHORE:

Flat conditions out here also this week. There has been some activity on the pelagic migration but most is occurring north of us north of Ft Myers. Probably best use of time and effort to concentrate on the great grouper action we continue to enjoy down here in SW Florida. Easy to do……….red grouper are as close in as eight miles due west of our Passes over hard bottom and can be fished with live bait worked tight to the bottom outcroppings. Best live bait is small pinfish or if not available, some ladyfish. You can work anchored up or a drift where the tide or wind gives you some nice motion. Gag grouper are out a little deeper and are still available for harvest……they too are well worth the effort. Suggest keeping a close watch on the local fishing reports and when you see cobia and kingfish beginning to show get the big gear out and go for the deep wrecks.