Jerry Mayer, 9, left, and Danny Krokroskia, 9, caught black tip and lemon sharks while fishing with Capt. Justin Moore.
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Winter has hit fishing: Sheepshead, reds and grouper offshore
Fishing in general has been following typical winter-time patterns, with sheepshead being the best bets. Trout season opened up as of the first of the year, and there are already some good reports coming in on good-sized catches from the backwater, as well as nice-size redfish and a few flounder.
Offshore fishing for grouper and snapper is also good, with most catches coming from less than 100 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico.
For up-to-the-minute fishing reports, I'll be on 1490-radio at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 8, with Capt. Thom Smith to talk about winter fishing.
And I'll be giving a free fishing seminar at 11:30 a.m. Jan. 15 at the Manatee Civic Center in Palmetto on winter-time fishing. Hope to see you there.
Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said sheepshead was the No. 1 catch of the week there. "It's typical winter fishing, slow and steady," he explained, adding that there were also a few flounder, snapper and bluefish caught from the pier.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said the weather is fine and the fishing is even better, with sheepshead coming around the bridges, piers and docks in huge numbers. Trout and redfish are also a good bet in the backwaters. Offshore fishing for grouper is excellent right now, with most of the big fish being caught in less than 100 feet of water out in the Gulf of Mexico.
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he took one charter out and caught more than 20 redfish, plus some big trout to 20 inches.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said fishing is somewhat slow there, but there are still lots of sheepshead and black drum coming in, plus some redfish.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said one boat came in with eight legal-size grouper and other vessels were coming back with several trout in the 24-inch range as well as a few sheepshead from the Manatee River.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he's putting his charters onto sheepshead, redfish and trout in the past week, with trout season again open.
At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, fishing reports have greatly improved in the past few days, with lots of trout, reds and sheepshead coming back to the dock, as well as grouper and snapper from the offshore anglers.
At Sunshine Skyway Bait and Tackle, reports are coming in that lots of legal-size grouper, some up to 26 inches, are "invading the piers," plus there are lots and lots of sheepshead being caught up to 4 pounds.
Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said he's catching redfish around the docks and sheepshead on the artificial reefs, plus some catches of small snook that were released due to linesiders being out of season.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said he's catching redfish to 25 inches, sheepshead to 4 pounds, trout to 19 inches, plus grouper and snapper.
On my boat Magic, we caught sheepshead, black drum, trout, a few redfish up to 27 inches and lots of small grouper.
Good luck and good fishing.
Capt. Mike Heistand is a 20-year-plus fishing guide. Call him at 723-1107 to provide a fishing report. Prints and digital images of your catch are also welcome and may be dropped off at The Islander, 5404 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include identification for persons in the picture along with information on the catch and a name and phone number for more information. Snapshots may be retrieved once they appear in the paper.