February 10 to February 16 2017 Fishing Report
ROSE MARINA FISHING REPORT
PREPARED BY THE MARCO ISLAND
CHARTER FISHING CAPTAINS
CONDITIONS: As they say…..”the beat goes on”. The weather here stays late spring mild with just intermittent hiccups of faux cold fronts that stir up the populace and the water conditions for a day or two. As I finished a charter trip this noon the water was a tepid seventy degrees……In early February ??. So those, so-annual angling events such as arrival of the spawning sheepshead; the invasion of the hungered Spanish mackerel and the onslaught by squadrons of whiting and silver trout in the deep waterholes has been put on hold. Hopefully a cold winter has yet to arrive ?….but with every passing day, I’m afraid the chances grow slimmer. So we start this coming week with seventy degree water temperature; light easterly and southeasterly winds and tides heading into a full moon that will strengthen a bit but promise little for an improved bite. On the down side could even see some winds and rain late period as part of a moderate front that just add to the issue. Oh well, spring is just a little over a month away and hope springs eternal.
BACKWATER: Most sought after virtue back here these days is patience. It takes all of that that to work the beloved backwaters between Marco and points south to Gullivan Bay and north to Naples. The customary strong change of winter water temperature that has driven the sheepshead inshore spawning migration has not happened…..in it’s place is a lackluster invasion here and there of this species. Work a venerated spot for a while and you may get one or two of those winter visitors that meet or slightly exceed the harvest size……most of what you’ll see are undersize versions that are ravenous and help empty your bait bucket. It’s hard to imagine that at this time of the seasonality that mangrove snapper may be your best bet. But it plays out ! Look for nice size mangrove snapper on those spots you fished this summer……they are still there in the warmth. Work a small or cut shrimp in spots like the Hurricane Pass waterway along Sea Oat Island and adjacent Keeywadin Island. Or closer in all along the edges and points in Addison Bay, Three Island Cove and Bear Point. They are feeding on points where there is faster moving water. Mixed in with them on many points are spec trout, black drum and small snook and an occasional redfish. All on a simple rig of freelined shrimp with just enough weight to get to the bottom. Also an alternative to the “sheepie” action on early and late tide flow is in Hurricane and Capri Passes working pompano if the water is gin clear on tipped jigs run tight to the bottom.
NEARSHORE: Although, as mentioned, that the winter Spanish mackerel invasion nearshore, is missing…there is mounting evidence that the stalled sheepshead invasion backwater may be partially halted on deeper Reef structure out here. Worth a shot, especially early parts of this coming week when the winds are projected as nil. Two good starting points would be the mammoth Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the Northwest and Southeast corners of the Five Mile Reef. Set up is easy. Don’t need any attractant. Just get some shrimp or crab pieces into the drink on a vertical drop (20-30′) give in 10-15 minutes working the lindy rig with a soft vertical lift technique. You’ll feel a tap….do not try to set….just lift the rod 3-4 inches and wait for weight on the rod….then a compact set (12″) and begin the retrieve never letting the line go slack. Other chances out here are on mangrove and lane snapper as well as on occasional triggerfish (all to be released this year) and possibly a nice flounder.
OFFSHORE: To borrow a phrase from a famous movie this is “Where the Fish Are”. Will take a good run deep. Spots that are reporting great and varied action are minimum twenty miles west and maximum thirty five miles deep. Action is excellent out there. Cobia, Kingfish, yellowtail snapper, grouper are just a few of the species that are showing up in huge sizes and in great numbers. It’s a long haul but the weather has been non threatening and safe. Worth a shot if you’ve get a craft of adequate size and multiple engines. Take along a heap of live bait netted at the sea buoys and a supply of chum plus major tackle. Think this is where the major species retreated into clean water when we had the inshore warm up plus the adverse conditions created by the Lake Okeechobee toxic water releases. If you’ve got the equipment this is an excellent opportunity.