Marco Island Fishing Report
By: Capt Kevin Bellington
Sea Gone Fishing Charters
Sea Gone fishing Report
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above to view full size
With the past month being super windy,
sometimes super cold.
and at times rainy, some days it's taken brave souls to go out
searching for the big one.
But I can say one thing about Sea Gone's awesome
And with they're bravery has come reward.
With the wind has come murky waters.
And in those waters Trout, Sheephead,
and Snapper are the
fish of the month while Redfish and Snook have been somewhat more
rare. Multiple species
of Trout including Spotted'
Silver, and Sugar Trout have been in
rich supply either working a live shrimp on a 3/0 long shanked hook
across the bottom in the grass flats or under a popping cork.
Using a super small hook (#1) with
live shrimp has been the secret when targeting large Sheephead in
the grass flats and along the mangrove banks.
Mangrove Snapper have been abundant
near the mangroves and have made themselves available when the
Redfish and Snook have been more difficult to find'
have been some Redfish catches using live white bait
shrimp when casting within about four to six inches of the bank.
Outside the passes, Pompano have
been biting on the same rigs as the trout, as well as jigheads
tipped with shrimp.
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Cold fronts have
been sweeping through South West Florida for the last few weeks.
High winds and frigid temperatures have made fishing a challenge
here in the 10'
With the cold
come some changes in our fisheries. Some good,
some not so good.
Falling water temperatures have made Redfish and Snook a lot harder
to find (although one customer managed to find the 35” Snook
pictured) but Trout and Sheephead are biting well. Pompano have
started migrating into the passes and are frequently in good
customers willing to brave the frigid conditions are often rewarded
with nonstop Trout action.
The best option
for a successful Trout trip is live shrimp under a popping cork in
shallow flats or worked on the bottom through the deeper grass
and Black Drum have been found in some unlikely places lately,
namely Trout havens, so be prepared for anything.
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Cooler weather has put the bite back in fishing
here in the 10'
000 Islands. Larger Trout have begun to move into the
bays and grass flats. The method of targeting them is as varied as
the places they have shown up'
but a tipped jig either worked slowly
across the grass or under a popping cork has been hard to beat.
Sheephead to 8 lbs. are frequent tenants of
deep oyster bars'
or Coral rocks on the outside of the pass. Small
pieces of shrimp on extra small circle hooks will give you the best
shot at one of these tasty fish.
Redfish are still holding up in the shallower
water and have been tempted out with live shrimp or cut bait.
Pompano and some small permit have been caught
in clean water'
as well as some Spanish mackerel and Jacks to 3-4
With fishing being as good as it’s been for the
even though we’ve had rain'
wind and cold'
this next week
with temperatures reaching
a perfect 80-85 degrees and sunny'
the fishing should be on
Click on image to view full size
When peoples’ moods swing drastically from one
extreme to another'
we call them Bipolar.
I think that is a perfect analogy to our
fishing here in the 10'
000 Islands lately'
The Sea Gone customers over the last 2 weeks
have experienced the whole spectrum of fishing in Southwest Florida.
From bright sunny days and calm seas just right
for targeting one of my favorite fish Tripletail!!
To blustery windy'
and downright cold! With water temps
falling faster than the New Year’s Ball in Times Square.
But through it all we have continued to locate and catch a
wide variety of fish from Sharks to Silver trout.
Offshore (when the wind permits) we have been
catching good numbers of Spanish mackerel to almost 30”'
species of Sharks on some of the near shore structures.
Macs are easy targets with a live shrimp if you don’t mind
re- rigging often'
as they do wreak havoc on light tackle.
Sharks have been finicky'
and will only bite on
well-presented cut bait with very light leader.
Backwater is a different story'
as most of the
Redfish we were catching on the oyster bars and outside points have
moved further into the back bays and shallow mangroves.
Trout are still active'
especially on days when
the sun warms the shallow waters adjoining the grass flats. Using
live shrimp on a jighead'
or under a popping cork has been the
ticket to getting them to bite.
Pompano and Permit have also been around and
they’ve been caught free lining shrimp just outside the passes.
2012 wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
With Howling winds and frigid temperatures the fishing was tough to
say the least. Couple
this with a full moon cycle'
and the bays and backwaters here in the
000 Islands were almost dry. But
our customers would not
be deterred and
But with the New Year the prospects are looking
up. The dropping water temps
it can only mean one thing …….Trout and lots of them !!
If you can find even the
tiniest patch of clean water'
you can find Trout.
Spotted Sea trout to 20” are
being caught in most of the cuts and deep channels.
Silver Trout and Sugar Trout
are in good supply and easy to catch using a tipped jig dragged on
the bottom. Pompano are showing up in better numbers and are always
a great catch using the same jigs'
regular Shrimp rigs.
Sharks are less abundant with the colder water'
but on a recent “Shark Hunt” we were fortunate to come across a
school of Bull Redfish a few miles offshore.
One behemoth was 39” and
weighed 23 lbs. Another just slightly smaller at 36” and 20 lbs.
One was taken on a medium
shrimp and the other with a cut Jack.
Our weather here in the 10'
000 Islands has been
all over the charts. From cold grey skies to blistering heat'
a matter of 2 weeks. But it has made the fishing interesting if
Redfish are still being found'
but mostly in
unlikely places. Oyster bars and deep water have been a good bet'
using jigs or buck tails tipped with shrimp.
Trout are still roaming on and off the grass
flats. Sizeable fish are
eager to eat a juicy shrimp suspended from a popping cork and
drifted on an incoming tide.
Sheep head are moving further up into the
backwater and are easy to find on a moving tide.
My personal favorite has arrived in good numbers'
For the first time in at least 10 years I am
seeing multiple fish on almost every spot.
For those of you who have not had the pleasure of
making the acquaintance of this formidable fish'
they can humble you
with blinding speed and awesome strength.
But if you are patient you will be rewarded with
the best tasting fish the Gulf has to offer.
Cold weather means hot fishing for spotted sea
Cold nights have dropped water temps into the
low 60s. Trout are good cold water targets because they develop
patterns that you can predict and prepare for.
Trout instinctively look for places that the water is warmed
by the sun to help them control their body temperature.
In the morning trout can be found on grass
flats in less than 3 ft. of water.
As the sun moves higher they will fall back into deeper water
along the edges of the flats.
This is where I usually look for them in the afternoon.
I look for moving water between 5 and 7 ft. with some sea
and use tipped jigs under a popping cork with at least
a 36” leader (I sometimes increase the leader length slightly
according to the clarity of the water.)
If they are a little shy you can also drop to the bottom and
and jig the shrimp up off
the bottom with a quick motion'
then allow it to sink back down
Sea Gone customers have been catching fish in
pretty good numbers over the last 2 weeks'
but a bout of red tide
combined with below average water temps have had the bite fall off
over the last few days.
Warmer days in the forecast should revive other
species to previous levels.
start to November kept the fishing confined to the back bays and
but that is not all bad.
been the fish of choice for most anglers here in the 10'
Plentiful and tasty'
these voracious hunters can be taken with any
number of baits or artificial lures.
the ever popular live shrimp is always a good choice'
retrieving a shrimp on a jig or weighted hook is probably the most
But if you
are ready to test your skills you can try any number of spoons or
soft plastics. It takes a little more finesse but the rewards have
been worth it '
with several Gator Trout in the 22-24" range in the
last two weeks but more in the 15 to 19 inch range.
are beginning to show up in the passes and around the pilings in the
bays and harbors. Several Sheepies
upward of 5 lbs have been caught.
The trick to
catching Sheepshead is knowing when to set the hook '
I suggest "JUST
BEFORE HE BITES" as they
are known to steal baits'
having very large teeth and hard bony
jaws. It is sometimes
difficult to get a solid hook set on them.
been fairly easy to find'
but size varies widely from day to day.
Live shrimp worked very slowly in close to the mangrove banks is
your best bet.
Fall has fallen and the water temperatures are drifting downward'
and that means HOT fishing!
I am starting to see pretty good Trout returning to the grass flats
in the 10'
000 Islands and some of the inlets and passes. Live shrimp
on a popping cork have produced good results'
as well as live
Pilchards under a float.
Black Drum are showing up in the deep cuts along the Mangroves and
drifting live shrimp on the bottom works best.
Pompano have been a welcome catch in clear water on the outgoing
tides. A chartreuse jig worked very slowly has been the ticket for
these tasty fighters.
Redfish are still in good supply along the shorelines and around
Sharks are just about everywhere especially the bonnet head variety.
Grouper are still in 40- 50 ft of water on the near shore wrecks and
ledges and live Pinfish are always a good bet for bait.
Click photo to view full size
September fishing in the 10'
000 islands can
and frustrating at the same time.Afternoon rainstorms
have kept the water temps
but at the same time it has been difficult at times to find
clean water resulting in an abundance of our whiskered friends the
Fishing for Redfish has been pretty steady
here in the Marco Island area. Using anything from top water to cut
bait. I am still a big
fan of using what works for you'
in my case that’s a live shrimp on
a “legend” rig'
a variation on the popular Carolina rig. This is
probably one of the most versatile rigs in my box.
Fishing along the outer edges of the Mangrove islands'
small movements are the key to attracting the hungry reds. Too much
action only increases your chances of a break off on the oyster
Trout are still available'
Storm Debbie and Hurricane Isaac did considerable damage to the
grass beds on the exposed islands making it a bit harder to find
large fish.Offshore has been the real hot spot these last few weeks'
with good catches of both Gag and Red Grouper being caught in 40 +
Trolling has produced the largest Gag
grouper using large lipped plugs on small wrecks and ledges.As
always the late summer is SHARK time here in the islands with plenty
of action for both the beginner and experienced
Fishing in July is
usually one of my favorites'
but T.S. Debbie put a damper on our
fishing plans for almost 10 days.
Before the storm
fishing was beginning to pick up in the 10'
000 Islands with good
numbers of Snook'
Snapper and Redfish caught inshore using live bait
and cut bait on the outer islands and in the passes.
Pompano and Flounder
were in good supply fishing slow moving baits in the sandy bottoms.
starting to look good as well with the opening of Gag Grouper the 1st
There were lots of keeper sized Gags in 20-35 ft. of water
Since the storm the
bait schools have scattered and the fishing has slowed a bit. But we
are still catching some Grouper and nice sized Mangrove Snappers on
the near shore reefs.
Starting into our
summer pattern of afternoon showers'
so mornings are the best bet to
get out and catch some fish.
May was a mixed bag of weather and conditions
that made fishing the 10'
000 Islands fun and productive.
Fishing live shrimp on the bottom in the
backwater produced a nice mix of Reds and Trout with a few large
Snook for good measure.
Gulp Shrimp were also popular with the Redfish in tight to the
New Penny and Natural were the colors that produced the
Near Offshore is beginning to heat up with lots
of Sharks as well as some large schools of Spanish Mackerel'
that are always a great target using everything from
shrimp to silver spoons.
In the last few days we have been catching some
very nice Mangrove Snapper on live shrimp in the fast moving waters
of the outer island cuts.
the wind is still a factor in the fishing here in The 10'
Although we've had our windy days'
it has been
letting up long enough for the water to clear and the fish to move
back to their normal feeding patterns.
Plenty of action in the backwaters from
Caxambas Pass to Dismal Key including Spotted Sea Trout as well as
Silver Trout caught in large numbers over the grass flats and near
the mangroves with live shrimp on long shanked hooks or shrimp
tipped jigs. Pompano'
Southern Kingfish are in good supply.
Can you say SHARK? On the last 4
our customers have caught and released at least 40 sharks including
an 11 ft. Tiger Shark '
as well as numerous Lemon'
and Nurse Sharks from 4 to 7 Ft.
Cut ladyfish on 8/0 or 10/0 circle hooks with a wire leader '
5000 series plus bait runner reel and a hefty rod is the ticket to
getting these fighters to the boat.
We have also been getting our share of Snook
recently. Here's a
picture of Steve who caught his 40" Snook
with us on a trip last week.
Caught with a live shrimp in a small pool right in the
mangroves he wrestled this monster out long enough for pictures'
Mr. Snook was released unharmed back to his home.
Tarpon are showing up in larger numbers
although they're acting somewhat finicky and we're starting to see
some large schools of Bull Redfish a few miles offshore.
Fishing in the Ten
Thousand Islands can be as challenging as it is rewarding'
February has been proving that.
High winds and a few
days of cold weather can disrupt the patterns of several of our
targeted species as it did the first couple of weeks. Redfish were
one of the most affected by turbid water and falling water
moving out of the usual haunts and proving very
Speckled sea trout
were quick to abandon the shallow flats
for more shelter and food'
making them harder to locate.
Other species are
less affected by the rapid changes and can almost always be found in
and around the passes and channel cuts.
Sheep head are a perfect example and have been an easy catch
on long shank hooks with live shrimp threaded on.
As the weather has
so has the fishing.
Pompano are becoming
a regular catch as the water begins to settle and the temperatures
begin to inch upward.
Using a jig head with cut shrimp has been the ticket to good numbers
of pompano around the passes.
returned to familiar spots and seem hungry as ever.
pinfish or shrimp fished near the mangroves are
keeping them interested.
Sharks are showing
up off the beach and are always fun on light tackle.
They may grab the bait straight up or look out!
And reel fast ‘cause they may be after your prized catch!
2012 Fishing Report
Winter decided to rear its
ugly head in the first week of January.
We had a short cold spell that lasted a couple of days'
causing water temps to hover just above 55 degrees.
With the cooler water'
finding fish was not a
but getting them to eat proved to be a bit more
live shrimp very slowly near the mangroves provided the best results
while long casts with tipped jigs and popping corks onto
the grass flats was the key to slot sized trout who's season just
opened Jan 1st.
With our water temps returning to normal'
Dick from Columbus with a Tripletail
trout are still chewing in the passes in protected deep channels and
keeper sized Sheephead
are showing up in good numbers. Tipped
jigs are still producing good action for most of the area from
Caxambas Pass to the Everglades.
I admit it. I got
lazy and took a few days off in the last few weeks and it just threw
my whole schedule off.
I haven't posted a
fishing report and I apologize.
Well fall has fallen
and so have the water temperatures here in Marco and the 10'
islands. The water temps
are fluctuating between 70 and 77 degrees depending on the tide and
depth. With the drop in
temps we are also reminded to slow our presentation down to account
for the slower metabolism of our target species.
With crisp breeze
mornings comes the fall fishing season (my favorite by the way)'
the return of a few of our favorite species such as silver trout and
sheep head. Spanish
mackerel are plentiful off the barrier islands and in the entrances
to the backwater.
Redfish are as thick as flies on the points and in cuts around the
oyster bars. With trout
it is great to have other species to target.
Most of our trips
have resulted in multiple species usually between 10 and 15
Live shrimp is the
bait de jour because they are working on about every species we have
targeted in the last ten days.
Redfish will also chow down on cut ladyfish presented in the
sandy holes around grass flats'
as well as a few nice snook!
Soldier Fishing" tournament this past Saturday hosted at the Calusa
Click on photos to view full size
was privileged to be a part of the "Take a Soldier Fishing"
tournament this past Saturday hosted at the Calusa Island Marina.
This second annual tournament was for active and veteran
military and their families to enjoy our fantastic fishing in the
waters of Marco Island/Goodland'
Fishing the 10'
000 islands area allowed all aboard to catch a
huge variety of species and sizes that are available in our fish
Kevin Bellington was honored to be at the helm of the Sea Gone 1
Sergeant Dana Juarez and her two sons'
these "jarheads" (per MSgt Dana) had little fishing experience'
three managed quite well and soon became very competent fishermen.
On the list of species caught were two very respectable
redfish and black drum as well as flounder'
and many more. MSgt
Dana and her sons were quite amazed at the action.
They mentioned that they caught at least sixteen different
types of fish.
Randy Vest was at the helm of the Sea Gone 2 and was thrilled with
the opportunity to take
Sergeant Alonzo Cherry'
and their six year old son
out for a day on the water.
MSgt Alonzo was already a proficient fisherman and got to
show his six year old a thing or two.
From then on'
Alijah proceeded to "tear ‘em up".
We were excited
to be a part of the "Take a Soldier Fishing" tournament and are
looking forward to being able to take our dedicated servicemen and
women out again next year.
We are forever in their debt.
and rain have kept most of the Sea Gone customers in the protected
backwaters of the 10'
000 Islands in the past 2 weeks'
were treated to a good mix of inshore species.
Tipping jigs with shrimp produces good
quantities of Flounder and Pompano to 17 inches in the sandy bottoms
around Marco Island.
Live Shrimp rigged on the bottom were the
ticket for quality Redfish and Black Drum and some Sheep head in the
cuts and ledges of the bays.
Bait is plentiful in the Gulf and Ladyfish have
been in and around bait pods'
providing lots of action for our
The Catch of the week was an 8+ ft Tiger Shark
caught on a whole mullet by a young lady from Northern England while
on a near shore trip with her family.
April was not going out like a lamb it was
going out blowing . But for the customers that were ready to fish
the rewards were worth the effort.
The month started off with a few Pompano
showing up on the outer edges of the sandbars and the mouths of the
passes. Throwing pink buck tail jugs tipped with shrimp
were the ticket for these feisty fighters.
Large trout are still around '
but the wind has
had the water churned into a brown soup and targeting these
beautiful fish has proved to be difficult at times. Lighter tackle
and proper boat placement has been key to success with trout as they
hold up on the grass flats in shallow water.
As the Month progressed so did the
opportunities for large fish such as Snook to 45 inches as well as
many over slot Redfish to 30 plus inches.
Sharks were plentiful near shore and we caught several in the
6-8 foot range on cut bait trailed far from the boat over structure
I am humbled by the beauty and strength of
these magnificent creatures and grateful for the chance to test my
mettle against such a worthy adversary.
May will be even better when we finally settle
into our summer weather patterns and the water clarity continues to
Even with the extreme low tides and the chilly temperatures the
Sea Gone team managed to find fish.
With two cold fronts rolling into the area and the water temps
hovering just above fish kill levels at times'
there are still fish
to be had in the Marco/10k Islands area for the anglers brave enough
to endure a chilly boat ride a little farther south.
Friday the 10th started with a drizzle and ended in a
downpour that muddied the backwaters and effectively turned off the
bite for a few days. Managing only sheep head and a return of the
dreaded catfish for a couple of days'
we were concerned that
Christmas week would be a bust.
But by mid week the sun had done it's magic and the water temps
began to rise back to acceptable levels. The bite was back with
plenty of action on live shrimp fished on the bottom on a rising
tide. We started seeing an increase in redfish and trout in the bays
and deeper inlets. Also catching some sugar trout and whiting in the
flats and cuts in the bays. And thankfully not a catfish to be seen.
December 18th brought another cold front with
basically the same result'
but the front was short lived'
was back very quickly'
and Christmas week turned out to be very
successful for our out of town guests.
Our offshore bite has been spotty within 9 miles but there are
still a few Gag grouper in 30+ feet of water. And although sharks
have been everywhere offshore for the last six months'
it seems they
may have taken a short vacation themselves.
Thursday December 9'
Weather has been a big factor in the Marco Island fishing scene.
Thursday afternoon was no exception. Mark and Heather from
Toronto were scheduled for an afternoon trip with their three
children for some backwater fishing. The rain was supposed to let up
by 1 P.M. and it was supposed to clear up. Welcome to South West
Florida! By departure time it had been decided that it might be just
a little too cold for the young ones '
so Mark and Heather got a
bundled up and braved the chilly 51 degree temps.
First stop in the bay was unproductive with live shrimp'
only a meager bite by snapper and catfish. Off to the outer islands
where the wind was blowing briskly at 15- 20 knots and carrying a
Two small reds and a couple of jacks greeted us.
Moved on to a channel with a good flow of incoming water inside
the pass and hit the jackpot with steady action from Redfish and
Trout to keep them both busy. I realized that they were well on
their way to an inshore slam '
and really wanted to see them get it.
Finally after some trial and error casting to the mangrove roots
Heather hits pay dirt with a reel screaming run from under the bank.
Two more runs and the big Snook was beginning to show signs of
but he had one more trick that he hadn't tried yet. Along
side the boat on the surface he gives his best Black Marlin
impression and Tail walks about 15 feet out and spits the hook.
but happy with the memories we headed back to the
marina for some welcomed warmth.
Capt. Kevin Bellington
Sea Gone Fishing Team