The water temperature went to 70 degrees today ! It’s almost as if we’re past the winter…….and all of that without the traditional temperature plunge that sends the winter species scurrying inshore to propagate. Guess we take what we get. Week ahead has more of the same with a frontal hiccup mid week with some nasty winds…..some out of the northwest which will tend to foul the water clarity a bit. Otherwise expect more of the same slightly chilly mornings and summer like afternoons. Winds will be reasonable and out of the east until then. The tides are coming off a full moon and will be exceptionally weak especially the morning outgoing with later week tides with less than six inches of movement in six hours. The afternoon incoming will be stronger. The water temperature should stay in the 68-70 degree range through the period.
Unusual conditions persist. The traditional cold water action has vanished. With water temperatures never getting below the 62-64 range here, the mass sheepshead invasion of spawners moving inshore never happened. There has been some heightened activity in that regard in the last week but nothing like the norm. But still worth a try in the deeper waters of the Marco River docks and structure points with a tad of shrimp or cut crabs…..this week on the afternoon tide. Also the Keeywadin docks are a worthwhile target to nail a mega sheepshead on the same baits. Looks like speckled trout have jumped in to fill the sheepshead void. Better action on the trout than we have had for years. Good spots are the edges of Calhoun Channel just north of the Isle of Capri; the flats off Henderson Creek in Rookery Bay and the north end of Canon Island south of Marker #28 in the ICW northbound. If the warmer weather holds or escalates, keep an eye open for some serious snook action. The linesiders reactivate in 70 degree water and will be feeding heavily after their short winter solstice. Live bait is the key here worked on shallower current points. Finally, don’t forget the silver trout and whiting action, so typical to usual winter action that are a hot target off the beaches and the holes along the ICW working small tipped jigs deep.
Weather conditions out here should be reasonable this week with the exception of the front running through here midweek. Good reports of bigger sheepshead on the Isaac Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass worked with shrimp / cut crabs on a vertical soft lift technique. Just might be that with the warmer water inshore that the big breeders stayed on the deeper cooler reefs out here. Also seeing white bait reassembling out here which bodes well for some hot pelagic action (mackerel / bluefish) in the weeks ahead.
Red grouper……….for the first time in a long time the bite seems diminished. Causal factors: perhaps the fouled water leaching from the Okeechobee drain off or the unusual water temperature issue. Hopefully it will snap back quickly. But still worth a try working live pinfish / cut ladyfish over hard bottom 9-11 miles due west of Capri Pass. Nice size lane and mangrove snapper to 15″ have been the “go to” species as the grouper take waned. They are being worked on structure with tipped weighted jigs a couple feet off the bottom under chum. Deep; still have reportable action on good to excellent amberjack action on wrecks using a vertical drop of live bait right into the structure.