May 11th 2018 Fishing Report
CONDITIONS: As we move into the middle of the month, the two dominant weather factors here, effecting our fishing, are heat and water quality. The water temperature, as driven by 90 degree air temperature afternoons, is climbing into the 80-85 degree range consistently. Result: increased potential for storm conditions albeit mostly isolated t-storms but the long range potential for tropical system development here in the SW quadrant of the Gulf is way too early. The water quality issue of red tide presence is most likely enhanced by the abnormally high water temperature. Those red tide levels, as identified by authorities, for our Marco area is LOW along the beaches this week but measured as MODERATE north of the island from the shore and reaching inland to Rookery Bay. In the general weekly weather predictions, the week is generally rain free with just a few brief stormy periods; the wind holds easterly and moderate until mid week with some afternoon gusty periods. The tides are anticipating a new moon early week which will drive some super strong afternoon outgoing water flows.
BACKWATER: Think snook ! First….remember the harvest for snook is CLOSED until September and rightly so. The snook are is spawning mode; love the heated water and this is their nirvana for feeding heavily. And that nice early first light incoming tide along the beaches should show good to excellent action working live bait just west of the surf break. As the morning rolls on, they will be working the current points along the mangrove edges as well as structure (docks, piers). Please use circle hooks exclusively to enhance a safe and quick release. The mangrove snapper, to good size, love these conditions and will be feeding heavily along most all mangrove edges and structure. They will feed on both tides and the larger fish will show in the slower water periods i.e. an hour on either side of the tide change (slack water). Usual bait for the snapper is fresh shrimp but they will jump on all live bait correctly presented as well. Look for deeper backwater action on sea trout and species like black drum in the creeks and cuts in Rookery and Johnson Bay, on either tide, working cut bait along the bottom where there are varying depths and ample structure.
NEARSHORE: Thus far, this has not been a robust tarpon season here. Get reports of some action in the Passes and associated inland waterways but not the “barn burner” we have experienced in past years. But still worth a shot as the season here has historically run through the third week of May. Back half of a cut catfish for bait and no chum (to avoid sharks). The mackerel and companion bluefish and jacks are holding out along the nearshore reef spots and barges and provide good exciting action. Key is locating bait schools and then commence a good chum effort, giving 15-20 minutes for it to work and then get small tipped jigs on light wire leader cast into the current with a rapid retrieve. Stay up in the top layer of water to avoid the legions of blue runners feeding below. Good bottom fish action on snapper, both lane and mangrove, reported on the corners of the Five Mile reef as well the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass with AM incoming best.
OFFSHORE: With virtually no forecast of storms and reasonable wind, good week to head out here. Just one caution……some gusty wind periods in the afternoons will make the mornings the better choice here for action as well as creature comfort. Beginning to see the vanguard of the pelagic migration show up on the deeper reefs and wrecks that are holding bait schools. Expect to see kingfish (king mackerel), cobia, sharks and, on some spots, barracuda. All can be had working live bait (blue runner best) under a good chum effort and the cobia, which will show on the surface, on a deft cast of a live threadfin right at them. The closer in reefs SW of the island are producing nice catches of lane and mangrove snapper working weighted jigs under a good chum effort.