Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

April 20th 2019 Fishing Report

              ROSE MARINA FISHING REPORT

           PREPARED BY THE MARCO ISLAND

                CHARTER FISHING CAPTAINS

 

CONDITIONS: After a tough beginning to the Easter weekend with that windy / rainy frontal passage, things will settle down but it will take couple days for the water to clear…….causal factor is those strong westerly winds. Would project that things would be settled down by Tuesday. The rest  of the week should be typical early spring marked with some afternoons gusting up a bit but certainly fishable. You certainly noticed the prominent full moon over the weekend and that is a key factor in tide determinant – the tides will definitely be a factor this week…..the morning incoming tide that is usually strong will weaken quickly and be at a volume of less than a foot by week end. Conversely the outgoing tide will strengthen during the week and finish the latter days with a plus 3’ drop. Bottom line you’ll want to avoid the weak morning incoming and if you fish afternoon work the first and last hour of those tides for best results. The water temperature as we begin with week is a degree or two on other side of 79 degrees. Weekend weather will probably dip it a degree or two and then in will recover ending the week circa 80 degrees.

BACKWATER: Best bet as to how the area recovers from the “Friday Front” is that the backwaters will be visually churned up until perhaps Tuesday morning and the fishing slowed both along the coast and up in the backwaters. Come then look for good snapper action along the coastal areas from south of Rookery Bay to the east edges of Hurricane Pass…….with a secondary opportunity in that Pass itself. Should be good hunting for snapper along the eastern edges of the Pass working a 1/2 jig head tipped with shrimp tight to the downed fauna. A drift in the Pass itself with a 1/2 oz tipped jig could deliver a pompano (early in the tide cycle) or a mackerel as the tide matures working a flashy jig or small spoon on a drift. Unfortunately the mega sheepshead are virtually gone………offshore to cooler climes but they leave behind their offspring that have a knack of emptying your bait bucket. Working a spot and that’s all you see….LEAVE. But now the Passes are showing bird and bait action especially early in the first hours of the AM incoming. Worth a early effort to tie on a tipped jig and try a couple of drifts down the Passes…..always a chance at some mackerel or even the sought after Florida Pompano.

NEARSHORE: .Best info from those still trying…….the BIG sheepshead are headed offshore even from their inside reef spots. Now is the time to work the top waters on the nearshore reefs for mackerel et al (bluefish, jacks, ladyfish and an occasional little tunny). The process….. either home in on bird or surface action with tipped jigs or working chum into bottom structure and then working surface flashy jigs on quick retrieves. Both techniques work. Bottom action on the established reefs are also providing results on lane and mangrove snapper as well as an occasional triggerfish or nice size porgie. A nice chum slick will help attract and hold a gathering for you. For the more adventurous, a large chunk for freshly cut runner or mackerel will attract shark action. Make sure the rig is on wire leader and your equipment is strong.

OFFSHORE: Things improving out here as time and temperature erodes the fouling aspects of “dead zones” and bait has returned to many of those ledges and reefs listed on the HOT SPOTS charts. Should continue as better conditions continue. Mid range reefs that have bait showing on the finder should be prime opportunity for good yellowtail snapper action. Get some good chum action down upcurrent and give it a 15-20 minute hiatus to start the draw and then work tads of the chum on #6 circle hooks freelined into the slick with the bail open. Strikes will be strong with immediate run off…….but count to “ten” before you close the bail and initiate the strike. Deeper wrecks and reefs should have action now from returning migrating pelagics and be engaged in solid on both tides on major structure. Bottom action with mega baits same venue could get you some heart stopping action or a range of shark species.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

April 12th 2019 Fishing Report

PREPARED BY THE MARCO ISLAND

     CHARTER FISHING CAPTAINS

CONDITIONS: Week will kick-in with some “summer like” super heated conditions with the heat level approaching ninety degrees by mid afternoons. There will be light to moderate easterly winds with some bothersome gusts by late afternoon. That should be right “down the alley” for sportfishers. Then things turn around a bit by mid to late week as the winds go west and the wind increases in velocity. So get ready for some heightened sea surface and churned up water by late week. Probably be worse offshore than in the backwaters but there will still be some carryover. The major factor in determining what lies ahead is water temperature. We need the big bait schools to invade first and then sought after by the pelagics, many of which are in the process of vacation winter residence in the Keys. Thus early week we’re looking at fair weather water temperatures somewhere between 77-79 but the “upheaval” will most likely tumble the temperatures backwards to the low seventies by week end. Tides are another important factor and are unique this week. Tides at the week git-go are extremely weak and as they head to full moon on the 19th really pick up steam and will have to be worked “First-hour and last-hour” as you ply the waters here week end.

BACKWATER: If the water temperature doesn’t tumble too much, we should see some good action for spring/ summer fish species here to chance the bait schools. Already seeing some mackerel with intermixed bluefish and jacks showing in both the Marco Passes. Action is best on the incoming tide and early is better than late. Macks et al will go for a fast moving high visibility bait like a light colored jig tipped with shrimp being either retrieved quickly or trolled at a rapid speed. No matter…either way suggest a mid weight wire leader to prevent cut offs on both the mackerel and the companion bluefish. In the far reach backwaters, the mangrove snapper are still ferociously active and will jump on a well presented shrimp tossed tight to the mangrove overhangs……especially close in the downed trees and fauna. A tip….late in the week when that tide accelerates, you’ll want to fish in the first and last hour of the tides when the water speed is at it’s minimum.

NEARSHORE: .Those pelagics (mackerel,bluefish, sharks) that you are targeting in the back will also be super action on the First and Second Reefs in 15-25’ depths and working schools of bait on structure. Look for bird action and upheavals on surface water as a indicator of their presence.  Plan on either setting up on the reef and getting a chum slick underway and then with a 15-20 minute delay give the effort a chance to work and then get those tipped jigs working in the top water. Stay right up top to try and avoid the nuisance blue runners hovering beneath……The other technique is to head toward that bird action over the top water disruptions and working on the edge of the frantic top water action get those tipped jigs running about 100’ behind the boat running at 4 kts. Lastly, the major reefs…..the Walton and the Five Mile….work the bottom with weighted jigs under just a bit of chum for nice lane and mangrove snappper.

OFFSHORE: Been getting reports that there still are areas offshore that have “dead water” due to oxygen depletion caused by the red tide and the algae depletion. So you’ll have to scoot around and try your spots until you hit paydirt. Good spots will have returning pelagics from the Keys heading to the panhandle ……kings, cobia, permit, sharks and last but not least barracuda. All of these guys love live bait worked in attaracting chum. Blue runners are best for kings and sharks; small crabs are the same for the permit and the cobia will show in the top water and can be worked with a live threadfin on a sightcast on the surface. Last advice….if you’re going deep go early week to avoid those predicted winds late week.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

April 5th 2019 Fishing Report

PREPARED BY THE MARCO ISLAND

CHARTER FISHING CAPTAINS

APRIL 5, 2019 TO APRIL 12, 2019

CONDITIONS: From assembled forecasts for the week, it looks like this first week in April will really be the first week of solid spring weather. Conditions for both temperature, wind and absence of precipitation all come together to provide a great pre-Easter period. With that stability, would hope that the spring fishing comes roaring in with action on our spring piscatorial visitors. As noted in the sector notes that follow, we could well see the final turn of winter conditions and a end to the abnormally slow winter fishing we have all experienced. Even the static conditions i.e. tide and water temperature should prove a positive factor all our anglers. The tides are coming off a new moon but will have a moderate morning incoming and finishes off the evening with a evening ebb tide that will average just under a 3’ fall.

BACKWATER: Water temperature should be the major change agent this week. With a steady diet of mid 80 degree water these coming afternoons will drive the basic water temp into the low 80’s. That will, hopefully, drive the spring species to chase the flood of bait schools that typically arrive in these conditions. Would expect to see the Spanish mackerel schools throughout all three Passes especially on the morning incoming. Working a flashy tipped jig on wire leader on a drift should enable some solid action. Another spring opportunity should show with pompano right at the very start of that morning incoming tide right at the Gulf Passes and be very active for an hour or so as they traverse the bait rich cut snd then scatter on connecting waterways …….best opportunity is while they are congregated in the Passes and being worked tipped small jigs worked right off the bottom.

NEARSHORE: A repeat from last week……..good chance there will be some yet-to-spawn sheepshead of considerable size still hanging out at the First and Second reef spots off the hotels/condos in 20-25’ of water. That anomaly won’t last forever as they eventually will make their way due west to cooler climes. Right now, they will still take a well presented tad of live shrimp or a cut crab. Otherwise, there should be a good presence of mackerel and bluefish mixed in with jacks and blue runners that are surface feeding on scads of bait. You’ll need a good chum effort to draw them and then it’s top water fast retrieves of flashy tipped jigs worked right in the spreading chum effort. If you do get into action…..might want to put a large fresh cut bait out on heavy gear just off the bottom……you never know what all that mackerel action is attracting.

OFFSHORE: Still seeing mixed action deep. There are still wide areas which have not totally recovered from the effects of red tide and algae infestation which has apparently depleted oxygen levels in the water……almost all species of fish avoid such a domain. So it’s a hunt to find good to very good action. A key is to look for bird action on a given spot……..birds will find the surface bait and that is the key to active pelagic fish feeding beneath. Also another positive trend is the activity of the returning pelagic fish emanating from their winter digs in the Keys. Once you find a working spot make sure you record the Lat/Lon as that benefit should last as other areas near it also recover.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

March 22nd 2019 Fishing Report

  ROSE MARINA FISHING REPORT

 PREPARED BY THE MARCO ISLAND CHARTER FISHING CAPTAINS

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…..black 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

BACKWATER

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.

 NEARSHORE / OFFSHORE  

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.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 22nd 2019 Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Absolutely amazing !!!! What else can you say about this winter weather here. No wonder every “Tom, Dick and Harry” from up north have invaded our domain. Fished today and the water temperature was 76………going back into past years fishing records that temperature would hover between 62 and 64 at this part of the year. For fishing that really effects the winter focus here on big spawning sheepshead as well as colder climate seekers like whiting, silver trout and speckled trout. Obviously what we’re left with are “warm water dwellers” and primary in that grouping is the very active mangrove snapper. Which, bottom line, is not an absolute tragedy , but what we’re missing is catching the mongo big spawning sheepshead. The various forecasts we review have no change in temperature in the forecast for the coming week as well as zero rain. And to top off a mirror image week the full moon will wane and leave us weak but manageable tides both ways. If you’re into walking the beach this is nirvana / if you itching for some good winter fishing……..well let’s wait it out…..maybe March will give us a chill down.

BACKWATER: With the heat we’re getting some hellacious wind periods. And that has added an element of distress in the backwaters with muddy occluded waters that really slows the bite. Anywhere near the Passes these last two days, the good bite stopped cold about one hour after the incoming turn. Fish can’t feed on what they can’t see……simple as that. If you move into the more remote backwaters (Addison Bay / Johnson Bay / Rookery Bay) where that inshore stained water usually dissipates somewhat you have a much better chance for some action. There are nice size mangrove snappers to be had working a simple shrimp laden lindy rig into a gold spot with lots of downed brush that has good current flow. Elsewhere a couple to tips…….up on the edges of Keeywadin Beach on the outgoing tide working a shrimp to the bottom on the outgoing tide will get you some nice size whitings (fun to catch; good chow; no size limit and an out of site number restiction)

NEARSHORE: If there is a place that those mega sheepshead will hold out with the hot backwaters, it’s the first and second lines of reefs just off the condos and hotels along the beach. These are all old reefs that have built up barnacle laden environments that are piscatorially attractive. Big winter fish heading offshore quite likely might investigate here. Worth a chance working a shrimp or cut fiddler bait tight to the bottom on a soft lift. The Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the legendary Five Mile Reef always hold promise. In these current conditions, still have a good shot at bottom action on mangrove and lane snapper as well as more the more elusive species like triggerfish and porgies (that are now prevalent hereabouts).

OFFSHORE: Going deep still makes sense…..these inshore winds are driven by temperature differential that are more evident inshore than offshore. So what you see as you transit the Passes may dissipate as you move west. Deep wrecks can be holding some returning pelagics that vamoosed south in the fall and now sense the abnormal warmth. Chance for some kings and cobia even this early. Set up on a wreck that shows bait on the finder and then anchor up and get a chum block going pronto and follow up with a frisky blue runner tethered on a 15th weighted leader and see what develops……..kind of early in the season but this is an unusual season. Other, more evident activity, would be action on yellowtail snapper which are evident here and full time feeders all year. Set a spot and get the block chum is the water pronto. One on flow, bait up with a tad of the same chum and feed it into the slick freelined with the bail open…on a strike let the run do 10-15 seconds and then close the bail and set for a great fight.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 15th Fishing Report

CONDITIONS: Heading into a rather typical winter weather week here in mid February…..very variable. Mornings early week will dawn with air temperatures in the low seventies but the end of the week those temps will have dropped to the mid forties. That has severe effect on winter fishing here. The winter species (sheepshead, whiting, silver trout) don’t know which way to go …….feed or run. We’ve got to get a stable “cold” water spell to get a constant bite of the “lunkers”. Otherwise on conditions, there is no rain or storms in the forecast. Little bit of afternoon gusty winds over the weekend but then calms out late week with most of the wind direction coming out of the south. The tides are enduring another tussle with the full moon cycle but this time around no crazy high or super low tides. All in all a pretty good week on the water with more snapper around (warmer water) than we usually see this time of year. Yearning for a cold snap before spring sets in and get the classic sheepshead bite in here for anglers.

BACKWATER: Seeing an enormous number of smaller sheepshead all though our backwaters but an absence of the “lunkers”…..as mentioned in CONDITIONS, the prime cause is the absence of low 60 degree water here. Snapper seem to be dominant with a better than average chance at capturing some keepers. Best spots are where there is bottom structure and good tidal flow. Try Addison Bay edges and back into Three Island Cove for good water flow. Rookery Bay east edges has also been producing some good results on moderate numbers on mangroves working shrimp tight to shallow structure. Redfish are also active on the same venues. Most are small (under 18”) but that makes no difference ……they all must be released now due to excessive kill we had with the red tide/algae fiasco this last year. The warmth has also kept some snook around and they can be worked with live bait up along Rookery Bay and over in Johnson Bay on shallower current edges with incoming tide best.

NEARSHORE: Fishing the reefs out here has been benefitted with the overall warmer water conditions. Sheepshead have moved onto these deeper and cooler spots to feed on bottom structure. Have reports of good to very good action on the major weeks…..i.e. the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the southeast and northwest corners of the Five Mile Reef. Working a shrimp or cut crab vertically just touching the bottom on a vertical lift technique can draw action on some bigger members of the species. Also have a chance on same spots for nice size mangrove snapper as well as triggerfish and maybe even some displaced sea trout. Have reports of good snapper action, both lane and mangrove, on the south part of the Keeywadin Reefs working tipped weighted jigs just a foot or so off the bottom on the incoming tide. Good idea to set up the action soaking a block of chum on the surface to accelerate the action.

OFFSHORE: With the blustery winds confined to the weekend, you should have nice flat water and comfortable conditions if you run deep. Most of the action now is on snapper on wrecks and reef spots that hold and attract snapper, both lane and mangroves……some sheepshead too , but reported to be scattered and in low numbers. Best chance deep, with the pelagic migration from up north finished, will be on bottom dwellers. Super deep 70+’ hard bottom still has some scattered grouper action…but it all depends of water temperature and current flow. Worth a try. For red grouper it’s working a live pinfish tight to the bottom structure over defined hard bottom of a tide induced drift. Important you’re working bottom with defined outcroppings on your fish finder. Gag grouper will be working on higher defined structure spots and be interested in a tethered small jack or runner freelined right into the crevices of the stuff. Lastly,…..crab pots are still deployed and those surface markers are nirvana for tripletail. Set a lookout as you make the run out and back……double back and work the surface with a tipped dark color jig.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

February 8th -15th Fishing Report

CONDITIONS:  The week kicks off with excellent winter conditions……..Mornings will range from 65 degrees to 70 late morning and then heating up to 80 plus real feel by late afternoon. But don’t get complacent as the wind kicks in mid week and will be buffeting the waters with steady 20mph gusts out of the northwest and due west . So as a result the water temperatures will be unfamiliar for the sheepshead and then the water will cloud up to muddy come late week. All that indicates that the fishing that’s top notch early week and then take a dive as the last part of the week kicks in. On the positive side, there is very little precipitation forecast thankfully, and once the wind eases we’ll get our good conditions back very quickly. And lastly, tides are coming off a new moon early week and are reasonably moderate both ways and won’t effect fishing

BACKWATER:  The warmer water will effect the sheepshead bite this week. Can see a slowdown in the big fish with the water warming to close to 70 degrees. Can give it a try as the spawn season in still in place and they need to feed. Would confine your attempts to deeper water and near, if not on top or structure (docks, waterway markers, piers etc) working a hunk of shrimp or cut crab tight to the structure in moving water. Should also be some nice (smaller) redfish around and jumping on shrimp or cut bait worked tight to the mangrove edges especially in the latter stages of the incoming tide. Good venues would be Addison Bay and Johnson Bay when the water depth is passable. Also take a chance on some nice whiting by working the outgoing tide tight to the edges of Keeywadin Island . A bit of shrimp on a jig will do the trick here.

NEARSHORE: With this week’s warm up look for the sheepshead to head to the deeper cooler nearshore reefs. Those in 20-25’ of water just off the beaches to be the prime spot. Once to mark structure on the finder; anchor up and get a bait (cut shrimp or cut crab) in the water and work it with a soft vertical lift technique. Keep some motion in the offering and once to feel the “tap” simply lift the bait 2-3” and when you feel weight that’s when you set the hook. Don’t try to set on that first tap……you’ll lose the bait and  get an empty hook back. Might try the Five Mile Reef SE corner for some nice lane and mangrove snapper action. Do so while the tide is running strong either way way and use some block chum to attract and draw both mangrove and lane snapper as well as some intermingled triggerfish and porgies (that’s right…..porgies here now). And always a chance out here to see some red grouper…..most undersized but you always have a chance at a take home.

OFFSHORE: Deep will be OK comfort wise until that wind kicks up late week. Wrecks that show bait holding have been providing good action on some smaller kings as well as some good bottom action on mangrove and lane snapper as well as some hot action on yellowtail snapper. Good idea to get some chum down early and give it a chance to work before you move off. Chilly water slows the fish movement down. Yellowtail snapper action is a blast to experience. Unique however, is the method……yellowtail will take your bait; not swallow the bait and run like the blazes……so keep your bail open and count to ten before you close the bail and set the hook. Good fight on the yellowtail and good size and great tablefare. Other target out deep now is tripletail who hang around the stone crab trap markers. See one sunning on the surface; double back quietly and work with a dark colored tipped jig right on the surface.