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Date of Issue: October 01, 2008

Snapper catch termed 'phenomenal' by most fishers

Fishing pic
Double header
Capt. Logan Bystrom, right, and Trey Daughtery reeled in a double header of sailfish while sight casting with shiners Sept. 26 from the Gulf waters 7 miles off of Anna Maria. They also caught kingfish.
Fishing pic
Whopper 'king'
Shawn Duytschaver, owner of Native Rentals in Holmes Beach and a lifelong Islander, shows son Marlin, 1, his 4 1/2 foot long kingfish caught off Holmes Beach from his kayak. It weighed more than 25 pounds and really impressed Marlin. Islander Photo: Julia Duytschaver
Fishing pic
Capt. Mark Howard of Sumotime Fishing Charters was fishing with Kurt Janisch aboard Janisch's "Fight's On" when Janisch, above, reeled in this cobia on live bait over a local wreck in 100 feet of water. It weighed in at 60 pounds and measured 62 inches.

It’s snapper to the left, snapper to the right, snapper here, snapper there … you get the idea.

Snapper, be they lane, mangrove or several other species, are thick near any type of structure in the bays and out in the Gulf of Mexico. There are even good reports of 5-pound snapper coming from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge piers, huge fish for inshore anglers.

Other backwater fishing action includes trout, redfish and snook.

In the Gulf, amberjack are being caught off the deeper reefs. There are also good grouper reports.

And speaking of grouper, I caught two big grouper just short of keeper size on seagrass flats last week, and several other fishers reported similar catches from the shallows of what is usually a deepwater fish coming.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams said that kingfish and big Spanish mackerel are feeding on the big bait schools throughout the shallow Gulf. He’s catching lots of sharks and a few tarpon while the big fish are feeding on schools of threadfin herring. There are also nice redfish populations in Sarasota bay. “Snook will make a better showing on the flats as the water cools,” he said, “and the best bet for snook is night fishing under the lights and all the passes.”

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina in Cortez said the past week has seen “a decent amount of kingfish and Spanish mackerel running along the beaches of Anna Maria and Longboat Key. Stiff easterly winds have kept most boats close to shore, as the Gulf got pretty rough a mile or so from the lee. When the huge amount of bait fish that has summered in the Tampa/Sarasota Bay estuary starts pouring out into the Gulf in the next month or so there should be some top action with all the critters that pass by in the fall.” He’s finding the inshore fishing scene to be excellent for mangrove snapper, redfish, snook and trout. “Slot-sized reds are being found in and around dock and seawall structure from north Sarasota Bay to Palma Sola Bay and near the mouth of the Manatee River. Most of the snook that are filtering back to the estuary have been on the small side, but numerous.” Capt. Zach added that the best flounder fishing of the year is between now and Christmas, with flattie action really picking up in the past few years.

Capt. Sam Kimball out of Annie’s Bait & Tackle on Cortez Road said snapper fishing is phenomenal right now. He’s catching snapper to 6 pounds offshore, gag grouper to 16 pounds, red grouper to 12 pounds, plus amberjack farther from shore. The snapper, he said, are anywhere there’s structure from 6 to 30 miles out in the Gulf.

Capt. Mark Johnston, also out of Annie’s, said redfish action is fair to excellent right now. He’s also catching keeper trout and snook in the backwater, while his offshore trips are producing mangrove snapper and mackerel.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said mackerel fishing in the Gulf is good, and snapper seem to be everywhere. Look for some underwater structures for the best catches. The snapper are coming in a variety of species: mangrove, lane and true American red. Barracuda and sharks are proving to be a problem on the artificial reefs, though, snapping up the snapper before they can reel them to the boat. Backwater action is good for redfish and more mangrove snapper. The “snook bite” is excellent for this time of year, he added.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said fishing has been excellent of late. Big redfish are being caught off the dock, as well as black drum, mackerel, lots of mangrove snapper and keeper-size snook at night. Whitebait is thick near the pier, too, Bob added.

Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier said fishing there also was excellent last week. Anglers have been catching mackerel, black drum, redfish and big snook. Mangrove snapper are everywhere as well, plus a few sharks. 

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said snapper are thick around the dock at the House, and there are also lots of good reports of snapper coming from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge piers, some up to 5 pounds. Mackerel are scattered through the bays, he said, and redfish are just inside the mouth of the Manatee River.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he’s putting his charters onto keeper-size snook and limit catches of redfish. For reds, the tides are playing a big role, with the best action coming on low incoming or low outgoing water.

On my boat Magic, we’ve been catching grouper in the bays - yes, grouper in the bay - plus lots of redfish, snapper near the Intracoastal Waterway and snook.

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 news@islander.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.

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