Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

March 22nd 2019 Fishing Report



CONDITIONS: The adage that March is probably the most unpredictable weather month in the year…….and here on the Paradise Coast that has played out in a straight flush this year. We’ve had just about every facet of weather related issues……with the thankful exception of snow and ice. But for anglers it’s been a back and forth paradise, especially with the unpredictable and (sorry weather news shows) unforecastable situations. As we enter this last March hurrah, we see a stunning beautiful weekend that roils into a couple of days with roaring winds with gust velocities tickling mid 20 mph speeds. Might suggest a weekend fishing trip and then defer to shopping or movies early week…….those winds will muddy the waters especially backwater and in the 1-3 miles offshore. The water temperatures are hovering in the low seventies but that will change as April rolls in with spring species of mackerel (inside), bluefish, pompano and BIG mangrove snapper. Otherwise the this weather week will be kind with moderate tides both ways heading to a new moon late week

BACKWATER: Post late weekend, and as the winds subside, would encourage some backwater angling where the tides are normally tide friendly with reasonable water flow and, more importantly, where the water is generally cleaner. Could well be there are still some of the winter holdouts… drum and spawned sheepshead holding in the deeper holes all throughout Addison Bay, Johnson Bay and as far north as the local centerplace of Rookery Bay. Working a cut crab or a small shrimp tight to feeding structure for the drums…….barnacles, crabs, should get you a nudge or two…….hold off the short compact set until you feel the weight on the end of the rod. Elsewhere, the bigger mangrove snapper will show all along the mangrove edges especially where there is downed timber……all of those guys on tipped lindy rigs or tipped jigs. Finally, allocate some time to work the Passes during the first and last hour of either tides for the arriving pompano, mackerel working tipped jigs on a drift.

NEARSHORE: Feeling is that there is a number of retreating sheepshead spqwners waiting it out on the first line of reefs………South Seas to the “J.W.” and continuing to feed. Now this is late March and the big sheepshead spawners have done their business in the chilled down winter and have gone off their voracious reproduction feed BUT in the last two or three weeks have personal experience and received similar reports that the spawners have not deposited roe and are still eating for the neewbies.

Wonder what effect that wil have on what has been a super generous sheepie population????…….Bottom line for the time being the “big ones” are still hanging around. Elsewhere, we are seeing hungry mackerel on first and second reefs on structure holding bait. You need to spot ‘em on the finder first and then get them in the mood with a good chum effort. Good catches on a 4 KT troll towing a spoon or flashy jig just past the edges of the very evident schools or on open water top water jigs soaking the tidal current.

OFFSHORE: Topsy-turvy out here now………you meet long term anglers that have spent the better part of a lifetime “loving” the waters and fishing results in the offshore (usually measured from ten miles on out) who are seriously disappointed with current results. Time and time again, the lament is “couldn’t get anything like the usual action we got at reef after wreck last week”. But “hope springs eternal” and many think this migration from the Keys with returning pelagics could well turn the dead reefs / wrecks back to full volume. That could well happen but the known depletion of oxygen caused by algae infusion and red tide over those terrible months this last fall and winter has yet to turn itself around. Enthusiastically, there is hope as the great summer species like kingfish, cobia, permit, and the long awaited return of sizable red and gag grouper once again will take hold as summer kicks in on all burners.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

March 15th 2019 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: March weather stays right in step with a “little winter” year here …….the week will start off nice and placid and warm and kick up with a a period of disruptive winds and tumultuous conditions through mid week. With all of the latter out of the W and NW, it will probably impact the water quality and well as general fishing conditions i.e. sea state. Creature comfort could well be impacted with some 50 degree early mornings. And that might send a chill down in the climbing water temperature and the arrival of the spring species especially in the backwaters. Would think we would see and 4-6 degree dip in the mid 70 water temperatures through the mid week. The tides are moving toward a full moon late week and both tides will be pulling a three foot tide range by late week. That could well be an offset as a positive to the other pending condition changes.

BACKWATER: Kind of amazing, but the sheepshead, including many spawners are still on their feed. Of some concern, is the fact that usually by early March we’re catching big female sheepshead that are thinning as they had released their spawn………in the last couple of weeks the big caught female sheepshead are loaded with unspent spawn.That could well point to a future problem in their population numbers in time ahead. Pointing to the arrival of the spring fishery, we are seeing more and more signs of Spanish Mackerel mixed with smaller bluefish in all the Passes. They show early on the incoming tide and then scatter inshore to work the numerous bait schools feeding on arriving bait. Pompano are also showing in Hurricane and Capri Passes on either tide as long as there is moving water. Should be a good week for them post rough wind period early week.

NEARSHORE: Those mackerel and blues in the Passes will also be very active on the nearshore barges and reefs. The cut from the Capri Channel to the Sea Buoy has three sunken barges that have a good chance of holding bait and thus a nirvana for the feeding mackerel and bluefish. Run a path over the structure and when the screen clouds with bait / drop a marker and double back up current and get a chum effort going. Give it ten to fifteen minutes to mature and then get those shrimp tipped jigs in the slick and worked right up top on the surface. The chum will attract blue runners beneath and you’ll avoid them by staying tight to the surface waters. The other set of opportunities is working the advertised reefs……the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the legendary Five Mile Reef SW of the Walton. Both areas have serious bottom structure and can hold nice size land and mangrove snapper caught with weighted tipped jigs worked, again, under chum.  

OFFSHORE: Caution here especially early to mid week with potential rough sea conditions. If forecast plays out, should be a “pancake”by late week. News here is the Kingfish….aka King Mackerel are making their first 2019 showing as they depart the Keys and make their way north. These guys are one of the major offshore species that grave the Southwest waters. They are sizable and usual weights would be in toe 25-35 lb range with lots of bigger and smaller. Find an published artificial reef or a wreck and make a visit looking for an assemblage of bait…… that’s the ticket to draw the kings. A blue runner on a wire leader tethered at a 15’ depth in a chum slick on major tackle will get you a workout and a prize of some nice kingfish steaks for the grill!

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

March 8th 2019 Fishing Report


Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on whether or not your addicted to fishing) this coming week is going to be like a mid summer week in the middle of winter. Look for afternoon temperatures tickling the mid 80’s with little no no wind until the very end of the week……and that wind alert will be moderate and of short duration. There is zero precipitation in the forecast and generally quite docile conditions for one the last official weeks of winter. And to top off this spring break breakthrough week, we will inaugurate Daylight Savings Time on Sunday (spring forward). The tide takes look a tad wacky as the lost hour leaves us over the weekend. That event for the week features a new moon on Friday and then proceeds to ease both ways all week. Most sectors of the tide will be workable but weak. The feature of the enterprise however is the predicted water temperatures, in a historical setting of 62-65 degree temperatures, the forecast has it pegged at between 76 and 78 degrees this week Does that impact the winter species presence….you bet.

MARCO ISLAND. Against all logic of cool temperature spawning action hereabouts, the sheepshead are marginally active with mostly bait robbing small males but a fair mix of some big spawners. Why ? Your guess is as good as mine…….probably want to get the exercise over with despite the inshore temperatures and then make a bee line out to species comfortable depths. Jumping into the picture this last week was a very good pompano bite in Hurricane Pass albeit on the end of the outgoing tide. On small tipped jigs to the bottom. Nice size whiting still showing in goodly numbers just off the Keeywadin beach on the outgoing.

NAPLES. That spectacular small redfish action still pervading all along the ICW cuts from the Port Royal Junction to just south of the Dollar Bay access points (both sides). Most of these hatchery escapees are still undersized (and still a restriction in force to release all redfish by the FWC) and certainly bodes well for what our late summer/fall action may look like. Snook to over slot are summer active from Gordon Pass all the way to the Naples docks and working pilchards on fluorocarbon leader with circle hooks worked under showers. Also Hurricane Pass for those pompano and whiting (see the Marco Island section of this report)

BONITA SPRINGS. Reports indicate that the anomaly of spawning sheepshead will be bypassing the traditional water temperature issue and continue feeding to spawn. Great action reported throughout Estero in the deeper holes with good current and adjacency to barnacled structure. Bait…shrimp and cut fiddlers. Either tide. Live bait has been the draw for oversized redfish and snook on east edges Estero Bay working creek edges and junction points on incoming. Redfish still active on edges of incoming tide points circa Matlatcha Bridge with shrimp under popper. Most still undersized.


MARCO ISLAND. If there were a place where the water is a tad cooler this is it…….meaning to attract and hold retreating sheepshead. The first and second reefs should be favorable for big sheepshead action this week working shrimp / cut crabs tight to the barnacled structure on vertical lift. Offshore have multiple reports of big cobia showing on wrecks / reefs with sizable bait schools……a wounded resident bait fish in a chum slick would be the ticket for big fish action. On your way out and back set a lookout at the stone crab pot makers for tripletail on tipped jig. Not much longer on pots…..are pulled next month.

NAPLES. A trip to the east edges of the Gordon Five Reef should provide opportunity for a little more action on cold water retreating species (sheepshead, triggerfish, trout) working shrimp tight to the bottom. Chum optional. Wrecks 15-20 miles that show bait on the finder for yellowtail snapper. Block chum right away…then tad of same chum on #6 circle fed into slick bail open. Post strike drop bail moderate drag. Amazing action. Deep….lots of trying for the elusive keeper red grouper. Even with 30-40 mile runs great action but almost all undersize. Better chance at gags on deep structure spots bottom feed or troll.

BONITA SPRINGS. May reef east edges reporting nice size sheepshead on way west. Shrimp or cut crab into structure vertical lift technique. Two reports on take size triggerfish in the mix; same approach. Mid range published reefs / wrecks now holding good populations both lane and mangrove snapper. Need strong chum effort and patience in getting bite started for nice size lane and mangrove snapper with a few yellow tails also. Cobia beginning to show on mid to deep wrecks / reefs marking bait. On distressed live bait worked tight to bait schools under chum. Medium heavy tackle.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

March 1st 2019 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Well here we are in March and it’s still super hot BUT we may experience a mild respite from the heat this coming week. Forecasts show a dip in those 90 degree afternoons and a moderate drop into  the mid 70’s.that definitely will help the “overheated” fishing conditions. But as usual, you always pay a price for a change and that, unfortunately will be some hellacious gusty winds on Sunday into  mid week with the anomaly occurring both morning and afternoon. Adding to the issue, those winds will emanate from the west and southwest and could be a factor late week on water clarity. If you were on the water over this past week you certainly noticed the ripping  tidalstrength coming a full moon. Good news ! That moon phase has ended and the new moon late week will inaugurate  some much weaker (workable)  tides. Morning incoming will average 2.5 feet and the afternoon  ebb tide will be in the 1.3 foot range…much more workable.

BACKWATER: Surprisingly, the bigger spawning sheepshead have held domain position despite the superheated temperatures. Got a scad of reports of good BIG sheepshead action backwaters from all along the Marco River and back into  Collier Creek and in the favoring backwaters of the cuts and bays back in Addison of Landings of mega sheepies in the 13-16″ range. So….bottom line, they got here and were on a reproductive mission and stayed put. Surprising but welcome aberration. Elsewhere in the back country there is continuous snapper action on now long-feeding summer fish. You can work the mangrove edges that contain downed fauna almost anywhere with a bit of shrimp on a Lindy rig with this weeks mild incoming tide being a positive……but try staying somewhere out of those winds come post weekend. Pompano showed up in Hurricane Pass on two Late outgoing tides last week…..they were right in the cut and jumping on small white jigs worked deep. Sure might be worth a try for this coming week also.

NEARSHORE: Sheepshead, for sure, will be on the prowlall along the first reef line this week with the water chilling down a tad and their spawning urge coming to an end. That first line of reefs from the South Seas complex to the Marriott in 20-30′ feet of water should be nirvana for sheepshead (and other species) action. You don’t need bait activity on the finder for the sheepshead……just rugged bottom structure. Use a Lindy rig loaded with a half live shrimp or a cut fiddler crab and drop vertically. Lift the rig a couple inches every few moments and if you feel a tap raise the rig 2-3 inches and wait…….only when you feel weight on the rod do you set with a compact 12″ pull up……if you rip the rod over you’re head, the sheepshead will be gone. Other action inshore could be some super-early season mackerel action circa the Capri Pass barges. Worth a try….get some chum in the water and work a flashy jig up on the surface with a fast retrieve.

OFFSHORE: The winds offshore could well be the “devil” this early week. So get your forecast and radar images before you sail offshore especially late weekend and early week. Best action will be on mid-range wrecks and reefs for mangrove and lane snapper with a few legal size triggerfish and porgies tossed in and maybe even a brace of spec seatrout which have been around over the last week or so. There also could well be strong action on some of the deeper wrecks that are home to yellowtail snapper. They are handled a little differently that other snapper. Go for them with a tad of chum on a small #6 hook fed into a strong chum effort and once you get a strike let them run with an open bail while you count to ten and set the strike. The “tails” are bigger than the mangroves and lanes and will provide a hearty exercise in landing.