Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 29th 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: As 2018 arrives this week it will bring along a gentle turndown in morning average temperatures but with the late afternoon temperatures still holding unseasonably warm…….hovering around 80 degrees. That anomaly will keep the water temperatures at a ungainly 72-74 degrees. Get the feeling that another “too warm” winter is about to happen. That effects the various species that both vacate this area in winter as well as the cold water species that are triggered to move into our waters when they “naturally” chill down into the low 60’s / high 50’s. May be too early to make a full seasonal prediction just yet…….but we’ll keep an eye on it. Otherwise we’re in for a week with moderate winds but gusty afternoons late week……shouldn’t do much to mess up the water clarity. The tides will be dealing with a new moon cycle mid-week which sports a roaring morning incoming as a placid afternoon outgoing. Good pattern for working those hours on either side of the slack water particularly in the backwaters.

BACKWATER: Generally, it’s been a tough go fishing back inside. The pattern has been almost universal……..catch lots of fish but not many keepers. Back to the pattern of “unseasonably warm water”. Here in the shallow pattern of water and bottom features there is a piscatorial expectation that the water will chill down and draw cold water breeders inshore to link up and disperse fertilized roe into sheltered bottom spots.

If the “cold” doesn’t happen chances are they will make whoopie where it does occur i.e. deep. We count on those winter mainstays here to maintain our bragging rights of “year-round” action. The most sought after fish in the group is the sheepshead. When the cold water breeders would show they would consistently size out at 16-18”. Now you’ll empty your bait bucket in short order with endless 9-10”. Bottom line we need the cold snap. As we await the temperature change, there is sporadic

action in no particular pattern for black drum, speckled trout, whiting as well as hold over mangrove snapper working shrimp or live bait into current fed structure spots.  The take is sporadic but a goodly number can reach keeper size which is a sweet spot as we await the cold water backwater action.

NEARSHORE: Sea conditions should be OK early week but some of the late week afternoons could get a little dicey with bouncy conditions. And chance out here there could be a more numerous population of the “cold water guys”…….sheepshead particularly. Worth an effort to try spots like the Walton Reef just a tad northwest of the Caxambas Pass exit for some bottom action for the scattered sheepshead as well as resident snapper and other bottom dwellers. Shrimp laden lindy rigs on a soft lift technique for the sheepshead and shrimp tipped weighted jigs under some light chum for the snapper et al.

OFFSHORE: Sea conditions should be parallel here with the Nearshore forecast with some late afternoon interruption with some gusty wind bursts. Red grouper is still a viable target but needs the cool deeper water…….so a offshore journey for these prized fish would probably start in at least 65’ of water and then work deeper on a westerly drift. Bait is just about always the live pinfish, if available, and if not a couple slabs of fresh cut ladyfish both to be worked tight to the hard bottom outcroppings. Work with heavy gauge tackle on stout rods/reels with the drag literally ratcheted shut. Once on the hook, the reds will give it all they’ve got to get back in one of the bottom liars and cut you off. Else where, have several reports of good to very good action on midrange reefs / wrecks for yellowtail snapper particularly on the incoming tide working tads of chum freelined into a serious chum slick…….keeping the bail open for 10-15 seconds and then set with a vengeance.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 22nd 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: This will be the week that everyone wished for Christmas, including you anglers. Multiple forecasts show pleasant morning temps early week in the mid 60’s and warming nicely to borderline 80 degrees by mid afternoon. That bodes well for time on the water but will probably stifle the pure fishing activity with horrific boat traffic. Later in the week, we will see the temperatures drop with some 45 degree mornings and possibly some rain. That will cut off the boat traffic and provide more possible fishing conditions. That change will also drive some windy conditions our way and impact water clarity. The tides are coming off a new moon and are relatively placid both ways through the period. The water temperature as we start the week is hovering around 70 degrees…..that should hold and dip a little as the weekend cold kicks in.

BACKWATER: We posed the question last week as to what reaction would fishing have as the water warmed up this current week. Experience over the past few days has proven that the “cold water” species (sheepshead, drum, whiting etc) have taken a backwater hiatus. Would suspect that they have eased nearshore into those deeper cooler waters and await the chill down post some colder weather. You can expect to catch nice sheepshead all along the docks, canals and mangrove edges……most all of which are 1-2” undersize. Would recommend you try deeper holes along the Capri side of the Marco River and the west edges along Collier Creek where deeper water has the possibility of some “take homes” sheepshead. Rookery Bay edges are producing some nice speckled trout working either a small tipped jig or a whole shrimp (split shot weighted) along the channel through Henderson Creek. You might even run into a small snook in the same venue by working live pilchards tight in the late morning incoming tide. Mangrove snapper are still active in the tepid waters and although not as numerous as mid summer……many now have reached keeper size and are great table fare. And lastly, try the edges of Hurricane Pass (Sea Oat Island) early incoming tide with shrimp to the bottom for some nice spec trout……they school up early tide and then disburse when the water picks up speed.

NEARSHORE: Conditions out here should be placid at least until a day or so after the holiday. As noted in the BACKWATER section, good chance for some sheepshead breeders (bigger fish) out here now working structure all along the first and second reef spots. Working a tad of shrimp or cut crab vertically with a soft lift technique should get some nice action on harvestable fish. Also have a shot at other bottom dwellers on the same locale. i.e. triggerfish, snapper, silver trout and even a flounder….all with shrimp or shrimp on a weighted jig. There have been several reports of Spanish mackerel showing on the Walton Reef (off Caxambas Pass) on the early part of the incoming tide with top water tipped jigs pulled quickly over a good chum effort. Some chance you could even see a bluefish or two in the mix.

OFFSHORE: Nice conditions, again, through early week……could get a bit dicey out here late week with some precipitation and wind. Major deep target remains the red grouper that requires a sizeable offshore run to the 60-65’ depth and then working west. You’ll need stout tackle ratcheted down with either a live pinfish or cut ladyfish worked tight to the bottom outcroppings on a drift or anchored up and working into a serious chum effort. Harvestable size limit for red grouper is 20” and bag limit is 2 per day. As you transit west you’ll notice masses of stone crab trap marker buoys on the surface. Recommend setting a lookout and check pots for what looks like a floating piece of paper adjacent to the marker. Good chance that is a tripletail…..cut engine and idle back working a shrimp or a dark colored jig tipped with shrimp tight to the TT. They will give you a good fight and be excellent table fare. They have a 15” minimum for harvest and a bag limit of 2.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 15th 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: We come off the “chill down” this week with the morning air temperatures hovering in the high 50’s to the mid 60’s and getting to a mildly toasty high 70’s by mid afternoon. That will effect the water temp that had dipped to ____ last week and see it rise to a predicted ____this week. All that water temp swing is going to accomplish is confuse the fish. Unfortunately ! We won’t see any fronts / storms this week and just one brief spot of rain late week on one afternoon. The wind will be back and forth with most of the gusty stuff occurring in the late afternoons. Not enough sustainability in that to foul the water, so we should have a plus in generally clean water. We will go through another new moon cycle this week with tides remarkably steady……morning incoming will move 2.8 feet of water and the afternoon ebb will ease and move just a tad over 1.0 feet. All in all a good early winter week for fishing as our island population increases as we near the holidays.

BACKWATER: Think the big question back here this week is “How will the cold water species react to the temperature warm up ?”. Those chilly temperatures last week excited the sheepshead, black drum, whiting, silver trout into anticipated cool water conditions and now the air temperatures kick back up. Good chance that will slow their activity and feeding. Suggest, if you are targeting them, that you work the deeper water spots along the river and connecting waterways where the water is naturally cooler. Find one of those spots along the Marco River / Collier Creek where the water depth approaches 20 feet and you may find some lunkers. Elsewhere it will be hit and miss……..lots of undersized fish with an occasional take home. There is bait in the Passes and should be drawing some mackerel this time of year but reports show the action is slow. Best approach in Capri / Caxambas Pass might be to troll a tipped jig or spoon at 4-5 kts where you see surface gull or surface bait action. Stay off the bottom…..there are legions of catfish just waiting for anything. If you want to wander into the deep backcountry, there is opportunity for action along the edges and bays of Addison. Still some nice size snapper available and probably more take-home size sheepshead  here than the open waters. Sheepshead are “stealers” so you want to use small baits and employ a soft lift technique that will get them to hit the moving bait and allow you to set hook into your retrieve.

NEARSHORE: Better seasonal conditions here and generally a little cooler water. Probable chance that as the backwater warms this week the cold water fish will find food and refuge in the deeper / cooler waters of the first and second reef spots. A little chum will help if your target is lane and mangrove snapper……followed by shrimp either on a lindy rig or weighted jig. Other species that may jump at that opportunity are triggerfish, flounder and trout. There is also opportunity for sheepshead out here on the Walton and Five Mile Reefs working a vertical drop with a tad of shrimp or cut crab tight to the bottom, again, with a soft lift. Would think a good chance at more keeper sheephead out here now.

OFFSHORE: Sea conditions should be fine out here with just a couple afternoons when it may get a little bouncy. The pelagics, save a few kingfish, have high tailed it to the winter grounds in the Keys. If you are working a deeper wreck that is showing bait schools on the fishfinder, there is still a chance for kings. Take a chance at set a live bait on wire leader at 10-15’ depth under a float in a good chum effort……you never know!  Some good reports in the flat sea conditions of sighting tripletail hugging the stone crab trap markers. On your way out and back, set a lookout and if sighted, double back, cut engines and work the marker and connecting line with a tipped jig or even a freelined shrimp. Tripletail are one of the best on the table.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 8th 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Weather conditions do not stand still this time of year ‘round these parts…..and this coming week is going to prove that axiom true. Expect the week to start with a “slam-dunk” weather front that will drop the morning temperatures to 50, with tons of rain and rain up into the 20mph variety. But, as typical this early winter period, the weather issue will fade and late week conditions will return to chilly mornings but afternoons tickling 80 degrees. Unfortunately, the return of the good weather will not trigger immediate good fishing conditions……the murky water will have to clear first. The tides will be coming off the full moon and strong early weekend and then fading to moderate range and speed mid and late week. Water temperatures are a “you-pick-em”…… will dip over the rough weather period but how much they recover are still a mystery. Pick might be just in the high 60’s.

BACKWATER: Will be an interesting week back here. Early weekend will have mild weather and clean water with a good chance at pelagics i.e. mackerel in the Capri, Hurricane and Caxambas Passes working tipped jigs close to the bottom on a tidal drift; first hours of either tide usually are best. But all that will change as the predicted weekend weather kicks in. In fact, would seriously recommend taking a hiatus from your favorite sport until late Sunday or early Monday morning when conditions are expected to settle down. Think the quest for those pelagics will be done and gone come later that week until the water clarity level improves. So the targets will shift from pelagics to seasonal bottom dwellers. Would think the chillier water will entice the bigger sheepshead to feed and that could trigger at least a couple days of good action on keeper size sheepshead. You’ll want to work them on either just a tad of shrimp or a piece of cut crab tight to the bottom on a soft lift technique. Good chance there could be black drum feeding on those same sheepshead spots. They are a excellent fish to catch with a tough fight and great on the table as a drum species with the same quality of seafood as the legendary redfish. You fish for them with the same technique as the redfish. For sportfishing, the smaller snook are still very active with the water temperatures above 70 degrees. If you can net a supply of pilchards or sardines and work the mid-day incoming tide current points in places like Rookery Bay or Johnson Bay you could get some nice action.Other action that has been prominent is on spec trout that have been very active along the ICW around the south side of Marker #R28 just south of the evident sand bar.

NEARSHORE: As explained above……go fishing on the right days. Most probably post weekend. Water clarity just might be less impacted off shore and, if so, could be the temporary dwelling for the inshore pelagics. Look to spots like the Capri Pass barges as an excellent starting spot for a look see. Key will be finding bait schools on the fishfinder or reasonably clean water. You’ll need some precise anchoring and s good chum slick before you commence some top water jig action with fast moving retrieves just over top of the chum flow. Can also be some bottom action on the same venue on bottom fish i.e. sheepshead, snapper and trout. Elsewhere look for good action early morning on the Walton Reef just west of Caxambas Pass for early morning action on mackerel up top and sheepshead and snapper action deep.

OFFSHORE: As mentioned above….pick your day carefully this week. Still getting a few reports of late season kingfish showing on the deep wrecks that show bait schools holding. Scanning your potential spot with a pass-by observing the fishfinder will provide the necessary evidence. A live blue runner tethered on a wire leader under chum ought to do the trick for some excellent (and strenuous) kingfish action. Also remind those going deep the monitor the surface water surrounding the crab pots for potential action on the infamous tripletail. Find one…..go quiet…..double back and work tipped dark colored jigs tight to the marker.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

December 1st 2017 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: This week finally delivers a nice quiet environment, especially for fishing. Forecast calls for very light easterly winds till late week with just one spot of predicted rain and even temperatures of mid-60 mornings that ease up to 80 by late afternoon. As an aside still think we will some of those gusty wind afternoons but most will be easterly and not as troublesome for anglers as the western variety. However one trouble spot will be the force of the morning incoming tides. They are predicted at close to a four foot range……that means in circa six hours the water level will rise close to four foot. Fish either go off their feed or go and hide somewhere when that happens. The late morning / afternoon tides will be more gentle and fishable. But it is still warm around here for December……water temp holding 73-75 which effects the cold water fish (sheepshead, drum, whiting, trout) bite. But, lastly, be thankful that the red tide that is enveloping the Sanibel waters up north of us hasn’t decided (yet) to move south. The significant red tide puts the KABOSH on fishing

BACKWATER: The word last week that the expectations on a strong late fall bite was upon us…….was a bit premature. As soon as last week’s temperatures took a 4-5 degree upturn the big keeper sheepshead bite took a downturn. We really won’t have our real sheepshead action until the water temp dips to the mid 60’s. In the meantime the sheepie runts will do a good job in emptying your bait bucket. But, as the wind has stabilized and the rain stopped, the water quality (clarity) has improved and the long awaited return of pompano and mackerel are beginning to show in all of our Passes. Look for action in the early stages of both tides….(the first hour or so). Drift the open waters working small tipped jigs that can reach or near-reach the bottom on a tidal drift. Both species hit with a vengeance and are as exciting to catch as they are to consume. Elsewhere, the small snook are still active and chasing surface bait all over the place. They go for pilchards as the #1 choice but will take most any live bait. Look for them where the current is running and the water surface is dimpled with bait. Most all will be small… if you’re targeting them might want to switch over to circle hooks to enhance a safe release. Redfish like these conditions we’re currently experiencing, and, as a result, have been pretty active over the last couple of weeks. Work them on the last stages of the incoming tide way back up in the bushes working a live shrimp tight to mangrove edges …….right into the shaded areas. Good fight on redfish and good on the table as well.

NEARSHORE: With a mild east wind, conditions should be good out here this week. And now getting some positive reports that mackerel and some bluefish are beginning to show is great news for our winter fishing here. Make a run along the first and second reef areas with the fishfinder on full power. Some of the reef spots will light up the screen with assembled bait and that’s where you want to fish. Anchor up-current and get a chum block in the water pronto. Working tipped flashy jigs quickly in the top waters should draw action. Both blues and macks should be iced quickly to retain quality.

OFFSHORE: Good week to make the long run offshore if you’ve been hankering to do so……nice and flat with minimal predicted storms. If you’re heading out to either the grouper hard bottom to the wrecks and reefs you’ll be traveling through areas littered with stone crab traps that have surface markers. Set a lookout on your boat on the way west to scan these floats for sunning tripletail. If sighted, do not disturb, run on and drift back working a tipped dark colored jig right to the TT’s domain. These are formidable fish that are legendary on the table… worth the effort. Will give you a bonus if you’re fortunate enough to put a red grouper or two in the box later on.