Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

March 15th 2019 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: March weather stays right in step with a “little winter” year here …….the week will start off nice and placid and warm and kick up with a a period of disruptive winds and tumultuous conditions through mid week. With all of the latter out of the W and NW, it will probably impact the water quality and well as general fishing conditions i.e. sea state. Creature comfort could well be impacted with some 50 degree early mornings. And that might send a chill down in the climbing water temperature and the arrival of the spring species especially in the backwaters. Would think we would see and 4-6 degree dip in the mid 70 water temperatures through the mid week. The tides are moving toward a full moon late week and both tides will be pulling a three foot tide range by late week. That could well be an offset as a positive to the other pending condition changes.

BACKWATER: Kind of amazing, but the sheepshead, including many spawners are still on their feed. Of some concern, is the fact that usually by early March we’re catching big female sheepshead that are thinning as they had released their spawn………in the last couple of weeks the big caught female sheepshead are loaded with unspent spawn.That could well point to a future problem in their population numbers in time ahead. Pointing to the arrival of the spring fishery, we are seeing more and more signs of Spanish Mackerel mixed with smaller bluefish in all the Passes. They show early on the incoming tide and then scatter inshore to work the numerous bait schools feeding on arriving bait. Pompano are also showing in Hurricane and Capri Passes on either tide as long as there is moving water. Should be a good week for them post rough wind period early week.

NEARSHORE: Those mackerel and blues in the Passes will also be very active on the nearshore barges and reefs. The cut from the Capri Channel to the Sea Buoy has three sunken barges that have a good chance of holding bait and thus a nirvana for the feeding mackerel and bluefish. Run a path over the structure and when the screen clouds with bait / drop a marker and double back up current and get a chum effort going. Give it ten to fifteen minutes to mature and then get those shrimp tipped jigs in the slick and worked right up top on the surface. The chum will attract blue runners beneath and you’ll avoid them by staying tight to the surface waters. The other set of opportunities is working the advertised reefs……the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the legendary Five Mile Reef SW of the Walton. Both areas have serious bottom structure and can hold nice size land and mangrove snapper caught with weighted tipped jigs worked, again, under chum.  

OFFSHORE: Caution here especially early to mid week with potential rough sea conditions. If forecast plays out, should be a “pancake”by late week. News here is the Kingfish….aka King Mackerel are making their first 2019 showing as they depart the Keys and make their way north. These guys are one of the major offshore species that grave the Southwest waters. They are sizable and usual weights would be in toe 25-35 lb range with lots of bigger and smaller. Find an published artificial reef or a wreck and make a visit looking for an assemblage of bait…… that’s the ticket to draw the kings. A blue runner on a wire leader tethered at a 15’ depth in a chum slick on major tackle will get you a workout and a prize of some nice kingfish steaks for the grill!

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

March 8th 2019 Fishing Report

BACKWATER

Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on whether or not your addicted to fishing) this coming week is going to be like a mid summer week in the middle of winter. Look for afternoon temperatures tickling the mid 80’s with little no no wind until the very end of the week……and that wind alert will be moderate and of short duration. There is zero precipitation in the forecast and generally quite docile conditions for one the last official weeks of winter. And to top off this spring break breakthrough week, we will inaugurate Daylight Savings Time on Sunday (spring forward). The tide takes look a tad wacky as the lost hour leaves us over the weekend. That event for the week features a new moon on Friday and then proceeds to ease both ways all week. Most sectors of the tide will be workable but weak. The feature of the enterprise however is the predicted water temperatures, in a historical setting of 62-65 degree temperatures, the forecast has it pegged at between 76 and 78 degrees this week Does that impact the winter species presence….you bet.

MARCO ISLAND. Against all logic of cool temperature spawning action hereabouts, the sheepshead are marginally active with mostly bait robbing small males but a fair mix of some big spawners. Why ? Your guess is as good as mine…….probably want to get the exercise over with despite the inshore temperatures and then make a bee line out to species comfortable depths. Jumping into the picture this last week was a very good pompano bite in Hurricane Pass albeit on the end of the outgoing tide. On small tipped jigs to the bottom. Nice size whiting still showing in goodly numbers just off the Keeywadin beach on the outgoing.

NAPLES. That spectacular small redfish action still pervading all along the ICW cuts from the Port Royal Junction to just south of the Dollar Bay access points (both sides). Most of these hatchery escapees are still undersized (and still a restriction in force to release all redfish by the FWC) and certainly bodes well for what our late summer/fall action may look like. Snook to over slot are summer active from Gordon Pass all the way to the Naples docks and working pilchards on fluorocarbon leader with circle hooks worked under showers. Also Hurricane Pass for those pompano and whiting (see the Marco Island section of this report)

BONITA SPRINGS. Reports indicate that the anomaly of spawning sheepshead will be bypassing the traditional water temperature issue and continue feeding to spawn. Great action reported throughout Estero in the deeper holes with good current and adjacency to barnacled structure. Bait…shrimp and cut fiddlers. Either tide. Live bait has been the draw for oversized redfish and snook on east edges Estero Bay working creek edges and junction points on incoming. Redfish still active on edges of incoming tide points circa Matlatcha Bridge with shrimp under popper. Most still undersized.

 NEARSHORE / OFFSHORE  

MARCO ISLAND. If there were a place where the water is a tad cooler this is it…….meaning to attract and hold retreating sheepshead. The first and second reefs should be favorable for big sheepshead action this week working shrimp / cut crabs tight to the barnacled structure on vertical lift. Offshore have multiple reports of big cobia showing on wrecks / reefs with sizable bait schools……a wounded resident bait fish in a chum slick would be the ticket for big fish action. On your way out and back set a lookout at the stone crab pot makers for tripletail on tipped jig. Not much longer on pots…..are pulled next month.

NAPLES. A trip to the east edges of the Gordon Five Reef should provide opportunity for a little more action on cold water retreating species (sheepshead, triggerfish, trout) working shrimp tight to the bottom. Chum optional. Wrecks 15-20 miles that show bait on the finder for yellowtail snapper. Block chum right away…then tad of same chum on #6 circle fed into slick bail open. Post strike drop bail moderate drag. Amazing action. Deep….lots of trying for the elusive keeper red grouper. Even with 30-40 mile runs great action but almost all undersize. Better chance at gags on deep structure spots bottom feed or troll.

BONITA SPRINGS. May reef east edges reporting nice size sheepshead on way west. Shrimp or cut crab into structure vertical lift technique. Two reports on take size triggerfish in the mix; same approach. Mid range published reefs / wrecks now holding good populations both lane and mangrove snapper. Need strong chum effort and patience in getting bite started for nice size lane and mangrove snapper with a few yellow tails also. Cobia beginning to show on mid to deep wrecks / reefs marking bait. On distressed live bait worked tight to bait schools under chum. Medium heavy tackle.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

March 1st 2019 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Well here we are in March and it’s still super hot BUT we may experience a mild respite from the heat this coming week. Forecasts show a dip in those 90 degree afternoons and a moderate drop into  the mid 70’s.that definitely will help the “overheated” fishing conditions. But as usual, you always pay a price for a change and that, unfortunately will be some hellacious gusty winds on Sunday into  mid week with the anomaly occurring both morning and afternoon. Adding to the issue, those winds will emanate from the west and southwest and could be a factor late week on water clarity. If you were on the water over this past week you certainly noticed the ripping  tidalstrength coming a full moon. Good news ! That moon phase has ended and the new moon late week will inaugurate  some much weaker (workable)  tides. Morning incoming will average 2.5 feet and the afternoon  ebb tide will be in the 1.3 foot range…much more workable.

BACKWATER: Surprisingly, the bigger spawning sheepshead have held domain position despite the superheated temperatures. Got a scad of reports of good BIG sheepshead action backwaters from all along the Marco River and back into  Collier Creek and in the favoring backwaters of the cuts and bays back in Addison of Landings of mega sheepies in the 13-16″ range. So….bottom line, they got here and were on a reproductive mission and stayed put. Surprising but welcome aberration. Elsewhere in the back country there is continuous snapper action on now long-feeding summer fish. You can work the mangrove edges that contain downed fauna almost anywhere with a bit of shrimp on a Lindy rig with this weeks mild incoming tide being a positive……but try staying somewhere out of those winds come post weekend. Pompano showed up in Hurricane Pass on two Late outgoing tides last week…..they were right in the cut and jumping on small white jigs worked deep. Sure might be worth a try for this coming week also.

NEARSHORE: Sheepshead, for sure, will be on the prowlall along the first reef line this week with the water chilling down a tad and their spawning urge coming to an end. That first line of reefs from the South Seas complex to the Marriott in 20-30′ feet of water should be nirvana for sheepshead (and other species) action. You don’t need bait activity on the finder for the sheepshead……just rugged bottom structure. Use a Lindy rig loaded with a half live shrimp or a cut fiddler crab and drop vertically. Lift the rig a couple inches every few moments and if you feel a tap raise the rig 2-3 inches and wait…….only when you feel weight on the rod do you set with a compact 12″ pull up……if you rip the rod over you’re head, the sheepshead will be gone. Other action inshore could be some super-early season mackerel action circa the Capri Pass barges. Worth a try….get some chum in the water and work a flashy jig up on the surface with a fast retrieve.

OFFSHORE: The winds offshore could well be the “devil” this early week. So get your forecast and radar images before you sail offshore especially late weekend and early week. Best action will be on mid-range wrecks and reefs for mangrove and lane snapper with a few legal size triggerfish and porgies tossed in and maybe even a brace of spec seatrout which have been around over the last week or so. There also could well be strong action on some of the deeper wrecks that are home to yellowtail snapper. They are handled a little differently that other snapper. Go for them with a tad of chum on a small #6 hook fed into a strong chum effort and once you get a strike let them run with an open bail while you count to ten and set the strike. The “tails” are bigger than the mangroves and lanes and will provide a hearty exercise in landing.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 22nd 2019 Fishing Report

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

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

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

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

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 15th Fishing Report

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

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

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

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

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 8th -15th Fishing Report

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

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

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

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

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 30th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: The big frontal blast pre Christmas is in a very slow recovery. In addition to producing winds in the 40-50 mph range it upset the barometric pressure norms big time.  Fish do strange things when that  happens and keep those a secret from us angling mortals. We are just beginning to see marginal norms return in early winter fishing patterns here. Clean water is a paramount ingredient, so first off look for clean water (where you can clearly see the bottom layers of your outboard lower unit immersed). Once that is in place check the water temperature and water flow…..should be running in accordance with the day’s tide predictions. With those factors in place you should begin to get action as you feed baits into the water. The forecasts for this week are positive and should help restore faith in the fishing conditions here on the Paradise Coast. The water temperature should slowly diminish which will trigger feeding for the cold water species here for spawn. Look for movement of that temperature into the low sixties by week end. The tides are heading to a new moon and the water flow should be moderate both ways.

BACKWATER: This is where you’ll find the bulk of the residual muddy water. It will show primarily in spots where the water feed is weak…..tends to keep the cleaner water at bay. Should keep moving till clean water is primary. Sheepshead will be the ascending species here as they swarm in for spawn. Will be small a first but stay with a good action spot …..the big ones hold back but the shrimp in the water will eventually draw the bigger ones. Fish up closer to the stern of the boat…..it’s those shrimp bits their after. Should be fair to good snapper action all along the mangrove edges working a 1/2 oz jig head tipped with shrimp tight to the downed trees and other structure. In the passes (Capri, Hurricane, Caxambas) good chance for pompano action during the first hour of the incoming working tipped jigs close to the bottom on a tidal drift.

NEARSHORE: Will have flattened out here and be more comfortable as the week’s forecast on mind is all mild. Some question as to any continuance of the summer mackerel action out here. Macks are more a warm water species……but still worth a quick try. If you move over a reef and note bait hordes on the fishfinder…..dump a block of chum overboard and drift back over the reef. Get hookups ? Move back and drop the anchor. Play the spot till the action stops or the catch changes to blue runners. Major reefs (Walton / Five Mile) are holding inbound sheepshead, some of take home size, so worth a try. No chum here just a vertical drop of a cut crab or hunk of shrimp right to the bottom. Work with a constant soft lift technique and set when you feel weight. Most of catch yet will be small but the big ones will move in just like in the backwaters. Same reefs have a good chance for late season snapper action. Tease with a good chum effort and then work the area with shrimp tipped weighted jigs just off the bottom.

OFFSHORE: Could well be some left over swells from the past storm that may make the deeper water uncomfortable. Deep the action has been focused on wrecks with migrating kingfish heading to winter grounds in the warmer Keys. Using the Hot Spots Chart select a wreck sitting admidst ledges and changes in bottom topography; get some chum in the water asap and deploy a live blue runner on wire leader and under a float so it is tethered in 10-15’ depth. If kings are there; you’ll have action. While you wait work the bottom (away from the runner) with shrimp on weighted jigs just off the bottom for lane and mangrove snapper and maybe even an occasional yellowtail. And, as mentioned in previous articles, on the trip out and back, set a lookout and keep a eye on the crab pots. Tripletail love to sun there right on the surface. Work them with light tackle with darker color jigs.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 23rd 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Christmas week weather is always a bit iffy and this year will be no different. Coming off a rather  menacing weather frontal passage last week, we will be dealing with  the aftermath of pummeled water clarity especially inshore…..near and offshore will be a different peril of rough water as the winds subside. So, best advice will be to focus on the latter part of the week when the water clears inshore and flattens in the Gulf. A plus, however, is the absence of the red t de and algae

laden water which has been a frequent  deterrent to fishing quality  here and up to our north. We will be going through a rather strong full moon cycle over Christmas and as a result some of the morning incoming tides will present a range of water level change in excess of 3.5 feet…..that will present a problem other than at the very beginning and end of the tide cycle. The afternoon  outgoing tides will be meek and very fishable. Would project that the storm conditions late last week with  ferocious winds will tumble our water temperatures  into  the low 60’s and encourage more action by winter  species as described in the sector forecasts.

BACKWATER: As the wind tails off over the weekend, the muddy I stained water will dissipate. Would think, if the forecasts hold true, we will see cleaner water post Christmas Day. The first  to clean up will be backwater spots well off the main current  flow i.e Addison Bay, Johnson Bay and there along the mangrove edges there should be good action on late season snapper and the arriving  sheepshead. Most of the latter will still be undersized but you can expect at least a few keepers. The snapper fall for a tipped jig worked slowly across the bottom  ; the sheepshead a tad of shrimp on a lindy rig worked ever so slowly on a soft lift technique tight  to the bottom….the sheeps head will frequent  a little deeper water….think bottom  dropoff……than the snapper. You can also begin to target the speckled trout as the winter season progresses. They become very active in the cooler conditions and their “food” of choice are critters that feed in the bottom seagrass. Couple of good spots for seagrass are along the ICW just at the entry by La Penisula on the Isle of Capri known as Calhoun Channel and just south of ICW marker #R28 on the north end of Canon Island. Drift either area with a live shrimp well under a popper.

NEARSHORE: Be a little rough here into the first part of the week as the front makes finalpassage. Forecasts show the wind veering east post Christmas Day and that will help subside the rough water. Probably a good spot to consider late week. When you do make the trip make sure you give the Walton Reef (a marked location on HOT SPOTS CHART available at the marina Ships Store) a try. Good structure there will hold arriving sheepshead with a goodly number of them in “take home” size. They can be worked with a small piece of live shrimp or tad of cut crab dropped vertically  to the bottom and then worked on a verticallift. Other note able action will be on schools of mackerel and bluefish plying the small reefs all along the Marco First and Second Reefs. You’ll pick up location in 20-25′ of water from South Seas complex to south of the Marriott. Look for bait working those spots and set up an action spot with a chum effort followed by working the surface with small tipped jigs on a fast retrieve.

OFFSHORE: Refer to the Nearshore Section as to the expected sea conditions. Will be a increased degree of wave height out here. Reports indicate that best action now is on kingfish (king mackerel) that are slowly moving from the Panhandle waters and heading south for the winter “warmth” of the waters in the Florida Keys. They will stop to feed on our wrecks and reefs in the 30-50′ depth levels and will favor those spots that are holding bait. Best approach is to set up forward in the water flow and get a good chum effort  going first and then with a small blue runner as bait, tether it on wire leader at 15-20′. Another approach is to set the same bait on a slow troll around the wreck/ reef. The kings are tough and toothy…..so be careful in handling. On the way out and best from your fishing destination, keep an eye out for floating tripletail sunning on top by the crab trap markers. Work them with mid range tackle and a dark colored tipped jig.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 15th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Tough to decide as to whether we’re in summer or winter these early winter days. But nobody that has escaped the frigid ravages up north is complaining. This week will be no exception. Starts off with a little rain and mild temperatures and ends with gusty winds and falling air temperatures. Those mildly chillier temperatures is what the anglers are looking for……they will help drive the water temperatures down and enhance the migration cycle of the determined spawners offshore to make their move inside. If the forecast plays out look for the water temperatures to be bouncing between 62 and 65 by week end. We are already seeing some winter fish action here…so this will enhance the action. A side factor of benefit to all here is that the cooler water temperatures will be a deterrent to any further invasion of red tide and fouled algae waters to invade our waters. With light winds through late week the sea conditions, especially offshore, should be very favorable. And lastly the tides will not be a factor this week with a moderate flow both ways that will keep ‘em feeding.

BACKWATER: Noticeable change in seasonal conditions over the past two weeks in the backwaters. Getting stable, steady action now on sheepshead, albeit most still undersized, it bodes well for the weeks and months that lie ahead. We’ve stated in prior weeks reports that there is now solid evidence that the catastrophic water quality along the Gulf edge up north, has “driven” the fish to cleaner water here. We are seeing both species and volume of fish that we haven’t seen here in some years.The cold water species lead the way. As mentioned lots of sheepshead action albeit yet small but that a key the big spawners will soon follow. Also seeing species like porgies and flounder mixed in the backwater edges where there is good current flow and loving those shrimp presented on a lindy rig as well as on the back end of a small jig. Right now the action could well be best out along the Gulf edges (Johnson   Bay……Keeywadin Island…….Kice Island for all these species working that morning incoming tide. All the water temperature drops your action will be further inside (Rookery Bay …..Addison Bay) on the same baits and techniques.

NEARSHORE: Should be comfortable nearshore at least through mid week. The inshore reefs are seeing more of the “take home”sheepsheads because on the way inshore those first and second lines of reefs hold lots of bait and the sheepies are readying for reproduction and need all the energy they can get. Now, if you’re new to this domain, the use the techniques you use back home for walleye and bass…..you gotta adjust your technique. The sheepshead will approach your bait and start to nibble on it / you won’t feel it / and then after a stretch you’ll retrieve to find your shrimp or crab gone. So….give this a try. Once your bait is on the bottom do repetitive 2-3” lifts very softly…..you’ll feel a nudge. Do not yank and try to set until you feel weight. Feel weight; a solid 6” strong pull vertically and start the retrieve. Keep the rod at a 45% angle and totally steady – let the rod do the work. If you pump the rod you will slack the line and bye bye sheepie. Try it……bet you’ll land em.

OFFSHORE: Should be a good week at least for the first part of the period. Best is deep deep. If you can make it out due west at least 30 miles where you can work the yellowtail snapper and some hefty mangroves adjacent to the numerous artificial reefs as well as good action on red and gag grouper with live bait worked tight to the bottom outcroppings on a tidal drift. When you start back pick out a wreck or two in the 20 mile that the finder tells you in holding bait and tether a blue runner on wire at circa 20ft in a good chum slick for very active kingfish on their way to the winter “stomping grounds” down in the Keys. On those long trips back and forth set a lookout as you near set crab trap pots and keep an eye open for sunning tripletail. Easy: just double back quietly and work a tipped jig on the surface tight to the pot.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 7th 2018 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Looks like we could be info a redux of the fouled water dilemma that we suffered through this summer. Multiple reports this week of dead dolphin and bottom feeders prevalent in waters just north of Marco. Personal experience this past week shows water here that tainted color but very little respiratory discomfort for those on the water. We’ll just have to wait and see how the issue plays out this week. My bet as the water temperature dives down in the mid 60’s and beyond is that we see the threat of red tide and algae infected water dissipate. Advice: stay tuned using the MY.FWC.COM web site or the local Naples daily publications. General weather this week is winter typical with a front roaring through early week with some diving air temps and stronger and gustier winds. The latter may foul the water especially in some backwater spots that need to be avoided. The new moon tide will provide a good medium strength morning incoming tide but then dissipate and give you a weak afternoon water flow.

BACKWATER: Expect to see an “early” arrival of the sheepshead spawn cycle in this domain this week and beyond. For reasons only known to them the medium (keeper) size sheepshead have arrived here early. Experience over the past week or so indicates that if you hit a spot with good small sheepshead action…..stay put……it takes a little time but the bigger ones (12-14”) will show as they gravitate toward the bait and action. Work a spot in the 8-10 foot depth range that has good tidal flow with the incoming showing best. Good chance on those same spots for mangrove snapper action with some bigger fish finishing their summer feast. Elsewhere, you might begin the try the waters just off the beaches (think Sandollar Island / Sea Oat Island) for the beginning phases of whiting and silver trout action. Need good relatively clean moderately fast water working tipped gigs tight to the bottom. Last but not least the spec trout are in the process of turning on all along the Calhoun Channel and the island edges up north by Canon Island. Look for moving water in 6-8’ depths and a grass bottom and work a tipped jig under a popper on a drift.

NEARSHORE: Want to stay close to the wind forecasts if your planning to venture anywhere in the Gulf this week. Could get rough early week if those predicted westerly winds show up. Action here is holding pretty steady with good to very good pelagic action on incoming tidal waters on inshore structure like reefs and shallow wrecks. Best here is a early immersion of block chum and allowing a 10-15 minute soak time before beginning to work tipped jigs on a fast retrieve up above the falling chum bits. Be patient…..once they show, they will sustain the action on mackerel, some bluefish, jacks and blue runners. Looking for bottom action for snapper, grouper (possible) then get the coordinates for the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the legendary Marco Five Mile Reef. Late summer action is still prevalent in both spots. Will, again, need a chum effort followed by either cut large baits to the bottom or after lifting your chum to the surface work tipped weighted jigs and work just off the bottom.

OFFSHORE: Ditto on watching the wind forecasts before making a long offshore effort. Deeper wrecks are still experiencing the intermittent action on southbound pelagics (kings, cobia, permit et al) attracted to bait rich wreck sites.You’ll need to acquire some frisky live bait inshore (blue runners, pinfish, thread herring) and deploy it on wire leader and stout tackle tethered under a float at 15-20’ immersed in a strong chum effort. If the targets appear on the surface, rig up a smaller live bait and commence to top water retrieve. Cobia, will most likely, approach your activity right on the surface. This also is the prime season for tripletail and, as previously mentioned, it’s a good idea to assign one of your crews as lookout as to move through the crab trap markers looking for a floating TT sunning , Take with medium weight tackle working a dark color jig right on the surface. Good action with great table fare appeal.