February 3rd to February 9th 2017 Fishing Report
ROSE MARINA FISHING REPORT
PREPARED BY THE MARCO ISLAND
CHARTER FISHING CAPTAINS
CONDITIONS: Fairly obvious now that we are not in a normal winter pattern here this year. Sustained seventy to eighty degree temperatures in the first week in February is not normal. Great for walking the beach or sunning at the pool but not so hot for the anglers stalking the “winter” fishing. This week, other than a day and a half late week with some wind and a little rain (weak front) it’s “Summertime”. Morning temps in the 60-65 degree range and then kicking up to circa eighty by mid afternoon. The tides are heading to a late week full moon draw but will not have the hellacious tides we experienced a couple weeks back. Tide ranges, both ways will be just over one foot. The warmth should bring the water temperature up in the mid-seventies and the lack of sustained west / northwest wind will keep the water flat and clean.
BACKWATER: The overarching factor back here, as you might have guessed, is the heated water temperature. As the normal pattern goes….as winter approaches, the warm water and pelagic fish, by nature, head south (The Keys) where the water is warmest. Then as the water chills down the cool / cold water fish hanging in the depths offshore head inside. Species like sheepshead, black drum, speckled trout, whiting and silver trout move into the backwaters and provide a (usually) great winter fishery……especially for our winter visitors. And unless we get a radical cold snap in late February or early March this year that either isn’t going to happen or will occur so quickly that it will be a non-event. So, you “gotta do the best you can with the conditions you got.” Here goes some tips…..the mangrove snapper are staying around in the warmth. Mostly runts but if you pick your spots and timing there can some nice 11-12″ versions for your cooler. Good snapper spots in Rookery Bay….the Keeywadin Docks….. Addison Bay points……Johnson Bay working the edges with good current with small pieces of shrimp. And the best time to be working the snapper is just before the slack tide and just after. When the water slows the big boys come out to play. There are some take home size spawner size sheepshead around and they are clustered on deeper spots with good bottom structure. Look for spots like that in Rookery Bay, along the Marco River and connecting waterways and the deep holes along the ICW working just a small bit of shrimp or cut crab tight to the bottom. With the warmth the speckled trout will be on the 4-6′ shallows earlier in the day in places like Johnson Bay approach and the west edges of Upper Addison Bay. Use a drift in 4-6′ with a shrimp suspended under a popper. Good luck !
NEARSHORE: Better chance of handling the warmer water conditions here. The 20-35′ water depths will carry cooler water. Mackerel and bluefish have, for some reason, been scarce this year but these out-of-character warm water conditions could well resurrect some pelagic action in close. Keep an eye open for bird action on the first reef line….that is a giveaway that macks and blues are forcing bait to the surface. Get a jig or flashy spoon in the water and troll the perimeters of the bait eruption. Keep an eye on the fishfinder and mark large concentrations of action with a marker…..circle back; get some chum in the water and work those top water jigs. Down below in the same venue, where there is structure, always a chance for sheepshead action. Cooler water here than inside and they may be hanging outside. Small bait on a vertical drop with a soft lift technique.
OFFSHORE: Of the three fishing domains that are offered here…..the deep (cooler) water out here is best now. Red grouper action in the 20-25 mile range in 50-60 ‘ of water hard bottom has had sustained action all fall and early winter. Easy technique of using live bait (pinfish and cut ladyfish) best tight to the bottom either over structure or on a drift will get best action. If you do anchor up on structure might want to do some “chunking” but dropping pieces of fresh cut bait right to the bottom as a specific species chum. Red grouper have a size limit of 20″ overall for harvest and you can keep two per person per day. Remember to release all gag grouper as thier season is closed for a few more months.