Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

November 24th 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: This week brings rather standard fall weather. The morning temperatures dip into or tangent to the 50’s but then as the blazing sun under clear skies heats the environment we are in the mid 70’s by mid afternoon. That pattern that has been with us for a few weeks is holding the water temperature between 72-75 in the backwaters and a little chillier in the deeper offshore waters. There is no rain in the forecast for the week so those current water temperatures should hold. The only “fly in the ointment” this coming week is the incessant gusty wind that shows early and stays late. Look for gusts in the high teens most afternoons. That wind will definitely effect the water clarity especially in the shallow backwaters and coastal points as it stirs up the sandy/muddy bottom. The tides are moderate both ways all week with the exception of the Passes where the winds have a tendency to accelerate the water speed. Lastly, just north of Marco et al, near Sanibel, they are experiencing a rather nasty strong red tide event which has a major negative effect on fishing. For the moment it’s holding in that domain but could leach down our way. Local news TV weather reports will keep you advised.

BACKWATER: Somewhat surprising is the fact that the larger sheepshead have started there seasonal “bite”. That is unusual this early and with the water temp still above their comfort level in the mid-60’s. You can find them where there is moving water and bottom structure that holds marine growth (barnacles, shells etc). Just a tad of shrimp or cut crab is the bait of choice…….both of which are more readily available that the more exotic baits like tube worms. Use a soft lift technique as vertical as you can make it……..feel the nudge; wait till you feel the weight and set the hook. Sheepshead have a minimum take size of 12” with the tail squeezed. In the same backwater spots, there is continued action on nice small snook (taking the same baits) and redfish. Most of the latter are small but always a chance of a take home. For the redfish, you’ll want to freeline a whole shrimp up tight to the shallow water line edges with the period of the high tide best. Have a couple reports of scattered spec trout being taken along the ICW waterway between Marco and Rookery Bay. The trout will fall for a smaller whole shrimp mooched along the bottom with the outgoing tide best……look for spots where there is sea grass evident on the bottom.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  NEARSHORE: Expectations for the fall / early winter mackerel / bluefish run are still on hold. Would assume, the massive bait schools that draw that pelagic actions, are still putting themselves together. Get a few scattered reports of singular catches on the first and second reefs with macks hitting weighted jigs intended for deep holding lane and mangrove snapper. The most consistent action now is on those last mentioned species working those weighted jigs tight to bottom structure on spots like the Five Mile Reef and the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass. Need a deep set chum effort here to draw the action. Also, excellent chance that the sheepshead bite inshore will extend to those close in reefs just off the beaches using the same baits and technique are mentioned in the backwater info.

OFFSHORE: Conditions out here will be probably better in the mornings vice afternoons with the gust forecast picking up mid day and building. Still a few pelagics hanging on the bait schools deep with the water temperature remaining moderate. Chance for some kingfish on those deep water wrecks working a live runner in wire, under a float in a good chum effort. Bottom action on lane and mangrove snapper should sustain on the reefs and smaller wrecks in the 8-12 mile range SW of the island. Easy pickings working weighted jigs under chum. Deeper (55-65’) still have good action on red (and some gag) grouper on hard bottom drifting a live pinfish or cut ladyfish tight to the outcropping.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

November 17th 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Thanksgiving week comes replete with the season’s first temperature drop. If the forecasts are accurate, the air temp will plummet over ten degrees post weekend……mornings will be in the mid 50’s but the warmth will return during the day and we’ll be back to toasty late afternoons. For fishing that overnight chill down will also chill down the water. Those 66 degree water temperatures will drop to circa 62.  And since we are in what the rest of the world calls winter, we will see action from that sector of the fish population that cherishes the cold. We will also see some additional windy periods which will have a tendency to churn up the waters and add some difficulty to visibility especially in the shallow backwaters. The tides come off a new moon early week and sport a early morning low tide and then a fast rising incoming tide. Will be an exciting week with a holiday crowd thrown in for good measure.

BACKWATER:  The cool down should provoke some long awaited action from some larger winter species i.e. sheepshead and black drum.  Being both cold water activists, we should begin to see the more mature members of both species as the water chills down. They are both bottom or near bottom feeders……so first, above all else, make sure you rig your baits to work in the that zone…..on the bottom or just above where their food is available. Sheepshead particularity love barnacles …their jaws and teeth are made for that action. So, working a dock or a series of bottom structures that have naturally accumulated these underwater growths puts you in the drivers seat. Tease them with baits dropped to the bottom and worked slowly on a soft lift technique on either tide. Best baits that are readily available are “store bought” live shrimp or easily captured fiddler crabs scooped up along the beaches. Just a tad will do as a bait worked tight to the bottom with a vertical lift. The black drum, which has the same muted black and white vertical stripe markings, are in the same feeding domains but move a lot more cautious to the bite. Once on, however, you’ll know you’ve got something special aboard with a much tougher fight and larger size than most sheepshead. These are a most desirable take home species. Cousins of the revered redfish, they produce the same delicious filet baked or blackened. Other cold water species that may show this week is the silver trout and whiting. These are medium size fish that will school in deeper cuts just off the beaches or along the waterways and are very active taking tipped jigs in a good moving current. Both species are great table fare and the best feature is there is no size limit and an astronomical bag limit that is seldom reached.

NEARSHORE: Waters here should also chill down as this week progresses. Bait should be more active and moving toward a schooling motive. That should draw the marauding pelagics to the feast. Look for surface action all along the first and second reefs…..i.e. bird action with terns and gulls diving on surfaced scraps or pelicans doing their “diving” thing. You should also see surface eruptions when bait is chased to the surface by attacking mackerel and bluefish from beneath. You can anchor up…..get some cum in the water and work them with tipped top water jigs or stay underway with a tipped jig towed 100 yds astern through the bait eruptions…..both techniques are exciting and usually productive.

OFFSHORE: Cool water action pattern continues out here. On mid range reefs and wrecks you will still have bottom action on snapper both lane and mangrove with the added possibility of early season larger sheepshead. You can work all of that with some chum worked into the structure followed by tipped lindy rigs or jigs right down to the bottom. Deeper the major wrecks are still an inviting stopover spot for the now south migrating pelagics…….you can fully expect to see a king or a cobia even this late as the cooler water is just setting in. A live bait set at 10-15’ in a good chum effort should get you some action. Use major gear and be ready for a struggle.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

November 10th 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Fall weather is slowly taking over our fishing conditions. It’s not only the refreshing drop in early morning temperatures but it’s the associated plummet in humidity. And you can’t forget the cessation of those rip-roaring T-storms that send us all scurrying. But on the negative side we are beginning to see the pattern of WIND. This week, for the first time in awhile, we’ll be confronted with wind (but more definitively gusts) that arrives mid morning and works the area for all of the late morning and afternoon. Those gusts make boat handling complicated and fouls the water clarity especially in the shallower backwater. Forecasts show afternoon gusts in the 20-25 mph range by week end. But on the bright side there is zero rain in the forecasts that will eliminate missed days on the water. The tides are in the middle of moon phases and reasonable both ways and the water temps should hover in the low 70’s neighborhood. Bottom line……good week to try out your late fall fishing skills.

BACKWATER: The fall species of fish favorites are showing up right on schedule. Those summer mainstays …… the snook are still borderline active but as the water dips into the mid 60’s in the coming weeks they will fade into quasi hibernation mode. Still get fair action on the juveniles but the slots will be scarce. Replacing those favorites in the coming weeks will be the fall and winter lineup of cool / cold water species. Dominant among that grouping is the sheepshead. During spring and summer months there were everywhere but true juvenile in size. Now, using the same bait and same locales you have a good chance at a take home fish…… and as the water continues to chill they will get larger as they head inshore to spawn. In the same venues you will now see their “look-alike” black drum. The drum can fool ID because of the same black/ white striping but they are distinctively different in size and fight to capture. Both species will go for small pieces of shrimp or crab worked on a vertical soft lift technique. Redfish will be the other dominant fall species as, they too, like the cooler climes. Reds like the shallower water especially over mud bottom and often will be feeding in schools. Their go-to bait is whole shrimp or live pilchards worked freeline or under a popper. Bottom feeding species like the silver trout and whiting will begin to show in the deeper holes and cuts just off the beaches and along the channels and waterways. A tipped weighted jig twitched on a slow retrieve will be their downfall. And not to forget one of the favorites the spotted sea trout which thrives in the cooler climes and will be deep in early morning cool and move to the shallow (4-6’) grass bottom flats in the warmer afternoons. Trout will fall for a tipped jig or an artificial tout.     

NEARSHORE: Waters in the 20-30’ range just off the beaches are also a great spot of sheepshead action beginning now, as they pile up on the reef structure feeding on bottom growth. As in the backwater use a slot lift technique with either shrimp or cut crabs as good available bait. Bottom action mixed in with the sheepshead will be on both lane and mangrove snapper as well as whiting and silver trout. All on small tipped jigs. If you work live bait to the bottom on dominant reefs like the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the Five Mile Reef there is a good chance you’ll run into gag and some red grouper working live bait tight to the structured bottom.

OFFSHORE: On the deeper wrecks in 60 foot depths you’ll experience the fade out of pelagic action on kings and cobia as the vanguard of those species are headed south on their annual migration as the water chills down. Need stout tackle……live bait……chum…..and patience for these larger species. As the water temperature continues to decline, the red grouper becomes the primary target in deep water. They are a great catch both from the action and on the dinner table. You work them using a live pinfish or cut ladyfish worked tight to the hard bottom on a tide induced drift. Another great target deep is the yellowtail snapper that hold on bait laden wrecks and become very active in a good chum slick. They, too, are great table fare.