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 .

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 2nd 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Weather is getting downright boring……here we have another mid-winter week with mild temperatures and zero fronts and associated wind and storms predicted. Morning air temps will hover between 58 and 66 and by late afternoon you’ll think it’s mid May with high 70’s in full sunshine. Great for tourism but tough on the “winter” fishing here. With that as a backdrop expect the water temperatures to hold a couple degrees on either side of 70 degrees. That is probably ten degrees higher than normal for this time of year. Will definitely effect the presence as well as the feeding aggressiveness of our winter species. Another plus is a week of mild and non-gusty winds which will keep the water flat and clean. Tides are coming off an early week high tide with a fast moving morning incoming and finishing the day with a much weaker ebb tide.

BACKWATER: Interesting situation developing back here. Question is ….How long will the winter species hold off commencing their spawning cycle as the water continues to be unseasonably warm. On a couple trips last week when we had that “morning chill” air temperature drop, we saw our first spawn size sheepshead in an aggressive feeding mode. Whether that continues, especially in this much warmer week remains to be seen. Certainly possible that the sheepshead, which is our winter target fish especially for our seasonal visitors, will hold off the big bite until a windier and cooler February. In the meantime in the backwaters, all is not lost……a great alternative to the sheepshead is the black drum……a cousin to the redfish, they are considerably larger; deliver a great fight and are fantastic table fare……think blackened redfish. They will feed on the same structure as the sheepshead and take the same baits. But seem to like their shrimp morsel presented on a jig head moved ever to slowly across the structure bottom. And don’t neglect the fact that the lack of raucous wind this coming week will keep the water gin clear which is a key factor in targeting the legendary Florida Pompano. Best will be in the Passes at either end of both tides working a small tipped jig to the bottom on a tidal drift.

NEARSHORE: Experience shows that fish are adaptable creatures and if feeding is a problem in one domain……they will choose another. Think a lot of that is going on right now in our nearshore reef areas. Multiple reports of good to very good sheepshead action on the legendary Marco Five Mile Reef as well as the smaller structure spots along the first and second reefs. Cooler water and abundance of “food” there is the draw. Reefs are well marked on TOP SPOT Fishing Charts and are relatively close inshore and easily accessible. You can well run into nice lane snapper and even a grouper or two on these spots but you might want to concentrate on the prime winter target….the sheepshead. A tad of shrimp or cut crab on a lindy rig dropped vertically to the bottom and worked on a soft lift technique should get you some hot action……hopefully on bigger, keepable fish

OFFSHORE: Unless something weather wise jumps up, this should be one of the best weeks of the young year comfort wise out here. Water should be flat and clean. Those reports we get from those “biting the bullet” and making that long 30-35 mile trip offshore are crammed full of great experiences on big fish. Grouper, both red and gag are at the top of the most sought after list. Loaded up with some live pinfish that you’ve gold hooked on the inshore reefs earlier, the action out deep holds great expectation…….either anchored up on structure or on a tidal drift. Work the pinfish with enough weight to hold the depth and the reel drag ratcheted down tight right into the bottom “stuff”. Red grouper will be tight to the bottom; gags will be working 10-15’ higher up in the water column. And to keep the crew entertained on the way out and back, set some lookouts to scan the waters around the stone crab pot markers for sunning tripletail……spot one; double back quietly and work a dark color tipped jig right up on the surface. Tripletail are a lesser known species but are one of the best on the table. Worth the effort.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

January 26th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Another placid week……stays warm temperature wise but with another few days of bothersome wind. All along,  we’ve said that a dead ringer duplication of 2017 of “too warm” will damage the long awaited true winter fishing back here…..especially here. Water temperatures now scratching 69 –  70 degrees just “ain’t“ going to do it. Sheepshead, black drum and sizable spec trout all move to their ritual spawn when the water holds ten degrees cooler in late January and early February. By early to mid March….there is no more winter here……just spring weather fronts and heated conditions. Great for the bikers and the snow bird walkers but anathema for the angler. Let’s hope the pattern in early February takes a turn in the anglers direction. On the other weather fronts the tides are moving to a full moon with a supercharged morning incoming with many days in excess of a 3.5’ range. A little more moderate PM outgoing that should be workable For the most part the day’s air temperatures start in the mid 60’s and finish up tickling the mid 70’s.

BACKWATER: Think the fishing back here will be hit or miss this week……Fortunate enough to hit a spot where bait is assembled and the tide speed is reasonable; then you should do well. The killer will be that roaring early morning incoming tide. Would highly recommend that you plan your action for the last hour of the incoming and the first hour and a half of the more reasonable late morning ebb tide…..and work spots that show vestiges of surface bait action. You could run into most anything in those time frames with the best chances on spawner sheepshead, black drum and even a spec trout or two. Now, the water should be relatively clean early week and there are whiting and silver trout active just off the beaches up around Sand Dollar Island and along the outside edges of Hideaway Beach. They will be there on either tide and jumping on a small shrimp tipped jig head wiggled across the bottom. And then in the deeper backwaters ……Johnson Bay……Upper Addison bay in late morning cresting tides working the shallower edges could turn up a juvenile snook or even a concealed redfish feeding tight to the mangrove overhangs. Best attractant here would be a whole lively shrimp freelined tight to the overhangs in the waning tidal flow.

NEARSHORE: Many times, think fish think like us. If you were a fish seeking cooler water, you’d probably make a beeline to deeper cooler water ala the nearshore reefs. Couple of quasi secretive reports indicate that is exactly what is happening. Best venue close in for this fishing espionage work would be the Walton Reef located just 1-2 miles NNW of the Caxambas Pass exit. This is a BIG reef with lots of depth and structure. (TIP….do not toss that anchor until you see flat bottom on the fisfinder) Some mornings you’ll see surface action (mackerel, runners and jacks) right up top…..get some chum in the water and work those flashy top water jigs rapidly in the surface water. Soon thereafter, switch over to the lindy, shrimp bit laden rig and get it tight to the bottom on a soft lift technique for sheepshead that have fled the backwaters for these cooler climes. As you work the bottom here, still have a good chance for some nice lane and mangrove snapper here as you work the lukewarm waters with tipped jigs under chum.

OFFSHORE: Good conditions offshore for most of the week……you’ll want to avoid those couple of days post weekend where we have some dandy winds that will be kicking up. But pick the right day; load up the fuel tanks and head west. Have glowing reports of grouper action up to forty miles out on 70+ water depths working live pinfish / cut ladyfish tight to the bottom. The water is chilled down out this far and sparkly clean. Anchor, even on just a rough bottom out here would do the trick on both the red and some gag grouper action. If you pinpoint a wreck out this deep, it will surely harbor yellowtail snapper which are a delight to catch and even better on the table. A starting chum slick will wake the “flags” up and then feeding them bits of the chum itself freelined into the chum slick will get ‘em going. Tip: Leave bail open…..they will take but not swallow bait for the first 5-10 seconds…then slam the bail shut and hang on with an moderate drag set. Fun ! and even better on the table.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

January 12th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: As we slide into this second weekend of the New Year and it gets a tad warmer, don’t be dissuaded with the token weather respite…..we have more cold and wind headed our way post weekend that will chill us back down and slow the lunge to the water by our anglers. Weekend will be pleasant then cold temperatures and riled water forecast for three days. As you probably guessed the steady dose of cold has plummeted the water temp. At early morning a couple of days back, we recorded a water temp that varied between 58 and 60. That’s in contrast a couple weeks back when we were in the balmy high 60’s that stretched to just over 70. Winds will be an issue also as we chill down post weekend……look for NE winds in the teens with gusts well into the 20’s. The tides are heading to a new moon late week and have moderately strong morning incoming and a weak early afternoon outgoing.

BACKWATER: We talked last week about the possibility that those 50 degree water temperatures could trigger the spawning migration of the mature sheepshead…….well, sorry to say that didn’t happen. On two trips this past week, it was the same old, same old aggressive sheepshead runts. Good way to empty your bait well but not much heading to the table. But that’s fishing………we did see some nice take home spec trout up along the Keeywadin docks and the edges of Sea Oat island on the eastern edges of Hurricane Pass. They fell for touts tipped with shrimp and worked in the 4-6’ bottom creases where they is some remaining seagrass bottom. And while trying some of those deeper depressions for sheepshead we did latch on to a couple smaller black drum that jumped on the cut shrimp intended for the absentee sheepshead. Your other cold water opportunity will be on silver trout and whiting…….just off the beaches where there is good water flow….. the outgoing tide seems to top the incoming for action on these two specie

NEARSHORE: Watch the wind early week, it will kick up some strenuous sea conditions. Morning incoming late week should be ideal for set up at the Walton Reef just off Caxambas working the bottom for (hopefully) sheepshead of size not ready to take the plunge inshore just yet. This reef LARGE and holds all kinds of bait which in turn draw your targets…..lane and mangrove snapper / sheepshead (again, hopefully) gag grouper (live bait worked 10-15’ above the bottom structure as well as triggerfish, trout and an occasional whiting and sea trout. The morning incoming tide will be the stronger of the two and that should line up with fairly reasonable sea conditions. Don’t neglect those large reefs off the Marriott that can hold action even in poor conditions.

OFFSHORE: Ditto on keeping an eye out on developing conditions early week. Need a fairly long run (20+ miles) due west and honing in on hard bottom patches for potential red grouper action. And you may need to inch a little further west to get sustained big grouper action. For reds, the technique is to soak a live pinfish or cut ladyfish tight to the bottom outcroppings on a tidal propelled drift. Keep the drag tight to prevent the red from nailing your bait and then heading back into their lair and cut you off. Closer in wrecks and some reefs for nice size yellowtail snapper that will school up in a nicely maintained chum effort. Slip a tad of the chum on a #6 small hook and freeline the offering right into the slick. Yellowtail hit like a ton of bricks and run before swallowing the bait. So keep the bail open for 15-20 seconds then flip it down and hang on.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

January 5th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: While the midsection of the country froze to death over the New Year it was rather pleasant here until NOW. That front that passed through a couple of afternoons back it going to have us playing make up COLD here this week. Expect to see morning temperatures this week in the low 40’s and then inching up late afternoons to the low 60’s….and then as the cold spell passes on, look out for gusty winds that will rock and roll waters through late week. Will be, overall, a tough week of fishing conditions that will take some effort and precise scheduling to hit the water at the right time. You can look for the water temperature to tank late week and gradually recover in the remainder of the week. At it’s low point the water temp should drop to the low 60’s and then gradually inch back up to the upper 60’s by week end. But watch out for water clarity issues…those late afternoon westerly winds will quickly turn the water to Starbucks caffe latte.

BACKWATER: But in all this cold water mayhem this week there may be a silver lining…….in some years past, the sudden drop in the water temperature (as expected this week) will suddenly trigger the pent-up spawning sheepshead action to take action and they will stream inshore to do their thing. So, hope springs eternal, and just maybe we’ll get a late Christmas gift. If so, work those deeper spots along the Marco River / Collier Creek and onward along the northbound ICW for sheepshead action, that may now include a parcel of these good eating fish that you can take home. Technique (as repeated) is with a small tad of fresh shrimp on a small hook work a bait vertically on a soft lift technique…..feel the nudge and lift, setting the hook on the lift and crank ‘em aboard. Other action has been showing increasing activity on spec trout along the edges of the ICW’s Calhoun Channel in 4-6’ of water over seagrass with best on incoming tide working a small tipped jig or a whole medium size shrimp under a popper on a drift over seagrass beds. Trout have to be a minimum of 15” O for harvest and with a upper limit of 20”. Black drum also are starting to show in more frequency. Looks like the sheepshead with silver and black vertical stripes but with no teeth and a distinctively different dorsal fin. Great fight and size / cousin of the redfish (red drum) / great table fare blackened. They will show in the same waters and conditions as the sheepshead.

NEARSHORE: Watch mid to late week sea conditions. If viable, working those first and second reef lines off the beaches can produce some of those size desireable sheepshead making the move inshore but holding on cool water reefs nearshore. Work them with the vertical lift technique with a tad of shrimp or cut crab as their enticement. Hopefully there will be size there this “cool down” coming week. Other activity in this venue will be early morning action on pelagics racing through the near offshore bait lines of sardines/ threadfins and falling for your well presented tipped top water jig worked in chum. Good shot here for some mackerel and bluefish early morning.

OFFSHORE: Just keep an eye on conditions this week. Rough seas aren’t the answer for good fishing. Early or late week should be the targets when the the tough conditions abate. Deep (65-70’) hard bottom should be a productive arena for red and some gag grouper. Reds will be tight to the bottom structure and jumping on a live pinfish or cut ladyfish strips worked close to the bottom outcroppings on a tide inducted western drift. Need stout tackle with drags set tight to prevent the reds from ducking back into their favorite lair after being hooked. Gag grouper will off off the bottom by 10-15’ and working the higher reef surfaces. Can use the same bait bit keep them moving in the higher current flow. A little closer in, on the wrecks and artificial reefs, there has been some significant yellowtail snapper action even as the water chills down. Set up on wreck / reef and work chum first and then deploy small tads of chum freelined on #6 hooks into the slick with the bail open. Yellowtail will take bait and run…..wait and close the bait and set. Great fight and better table fare.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 29th 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: As 2018 arrives this week it will bring along a gentle turndown in morning average temperatures but with the late afternoon temperatures still holding unseasonably warm…….hovering around 80 degrees. That anomaly will keep the water temperatures at a ungainly 72-74 degrees. Get the feeling that another “too warm” winter is about to happen. That effects the various species that both vacate this area in winter as well as the cold water species that are triggered to move into our waters when they “naturally” chill down into the low 60’s / high 50’s. May be too early to make a full seasonal prediction just yet…….but we’ll keep an eye on it. Otherwise we’re in for a week with moderate winds but gusty afternoons late week……shouldn’t do much to mess up the water clarity. The tides will be dealing with a new moon cycle mid-week which sports a roaring morning incoming as a placid afternoon outgoing. Good pattern for working those hours on either side of the slack water particularly in the backwaters.

BACKWATER: Generally, it’s been a tough go fishing back inside. The pattern has been almost universal……..catch lots of fish but not many keepers. Back to the pattern of “unseasonably warm water”. Here in the shallow pattern of water and bottom features there is a piscatorial expectation that the water will chill down and draw cold water breeders inshore to link up and disperse fertilized roe into sheltered bottom spots.

If the “cold” doesn’t happen chances are they will make whoopie where it does occur i.e. deep. We count on those winter mainstays here to maintain our bragging rights of “year-round” action. The most sought after fish in the group is the sheepshead. When the cold water breeders would show they would consistently size out at 16-18”. Now you’ll empty your bait bucket in short order with endless 9-10”. Bottom line we need the cold snap. As we await the temperature change, there is sporadic

action in no particular pattern for black drum, speckled trout, whiting as well as hold over mangrove snapper working shrimp or live bait into current fed structure spots.  The take is sporadic but a goodly number can reach keeper size which is a sweet spot as we await the cold water backwater action.

NEARSHORE: Sea conditions should be OK early week but some of the late week afternoons could get a little dicey with bouncy conditions. And chance out here there could be a more numerous population of the “cold water guys”…….sheepshead particularly. Worth an effort to try spots like the Walton Reef just a tad northwest of the Caxambas Pass exit for some bottom action for the scattered sheepshead as well as resident snapper and other bottom dwellers. Shrimp laden lindy rigs on a soft lift technique for the sheepshead and shrimp tipped weighted jigs under some light chum for the snapper et al.

OFFSHORE: Sea conditions should be parallel here with the Nearshore forecast with some late afternoon interruption with some gusty wind bursts. Red grouper is still a viable target but needs the cool deeper water…….so a offshore journey for these prized fish would probably start in at least 65’ of water and then work deeper on a westerly drift. Bait is just about always the live pinfish, if available, and if not a couple slabs of fresh cut ladyfish both to be worked tight to the hard bottom outcroppings. Work with heavy gauge tackle on stout rods/reels with the drag literally ratcheted shut. Once on the hook, the reds will give it all they’ve got to get back in one of the bottom liars and cut you off. Else where, have several reports of good to very good action on midrange reefs / wrecks for yellowtail snapper particularly on the incoming tide working tads of chum freelined into a serious chum slick…….keeping the bail open for 10-15 seconds and then set with a vengeance.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 22nd 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: This will be the week that everyone wished for Christmas, including you anglers. Multiple forecasts show pleasant morning temps early week in the mid 60’s and warming nicely to borderline 80 degrees by mid afternoon. That bodes well for time on the water but will probably stifle the pure fishing activity with horrific boat traffic. Later in the week, we will see the temperatures drop with some 45 degree mornings and possibly some rain. That will cut off the boat traffic and provide more possible fishing conditions. That change will also drive some windy conditions our way and impact water clarity. The tides are coming off a new moon and are relatively placid both ways through the period. The water temperature as we start the week is hovering around 70 degrees…..that should hold and dip a little as the weekend cold kicks in.

BACKWATER: We posed the question last week as to what reaction would fishing have as the water warmed up this current week. Experience over the past few days has proven that the “cold water” species (sheepshead, drum, whiting etc) have taken a backwater hiatus. Would suspect that they have eased nearshore into those deeper cooler waters and await the chill down post some colder weather. You can expect to catch nice sheepshead all along the docks, canals and mangrove edges……most all of which are 1-2” undersize. Would recommend you try deeper holes along the Capri side of the Marco River and the west edges along Collier Creek where deeper water has the possibility of some “take homes” sheepshead. Rookery Bay edges are producing some nice speckled trout working either a small tipped jig or a whole shrimp (split shot weighted) along the channel through Henderson Creek. You might even run into a small snook in the same venue by working live pilchards tight in the late morning incoming tide. Mangrove snapper are still active in the tepid waters and although not as numerous as mid summer……many now have reached keeper size and are great table fare. And lastly, try the edges of Hurricane Pass (Sea Oat Island) early incoming tide with shrimp to the bottom for some nice spec trout……they school up early tide and then disburse when the water picks up speed.

NEARSHORE: Conditions out here should be placid at least until a day or so after the holiday. As noted in the BACKWATER section, good chance for some sheepshead breeders (bigger fish) out here now working structure all along the first and second reef spots. Working a tad of shrimp or cut crab vertically with a soft lift technique should get some nice action on harvestable fish. Also have a shot at other bottom dwellers on the same locale. i.e. triggerfish, snapper, silver trout and even a flounder….all with shrimp or shrimp on a weighted jig. There have been several reports of Spanish mackerel showing on the Walton Reef (off Caxambas Pass) on the early part of the incoming tide with top water tipped jigs pulled quickly over a good chum effort. Some chance you could even see a bluefish or two in the mix.

OFFSHORE: Nice conditions, again, through early week……could get a bit dicey out here late week with some precipitation and wind. Major deep target remains the red grouper that requires a sizeable offshore run to the 60-65’ depth and then working west. You’ll need stout tackle ratcheted down with either a live pinfish or cut ladyfish worked tight to the bottom outcroppings on a drift or anchored up and working into a serious chum effort. Harvestable size limit for red grouper is 20” and bag limit is 2 per day. As you transit west you’ll notice masses of stone crab trap marker buoys on the surface. Recommend setting a lookout and check pots for what looks like a floating piece of paper adjacent to the marker. Good chance that is a tripletail…..cut engine and idle back working a shrimp or a dark colored jig tipped with shrimp tight to the TT. They will give you a good fight and be excellent table fare. They have a 15” minimum for harvest and a bag limit of 2.