Kings show off Island beaches
Larry Bethke caught this 60-pound cobia while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters. As Capt. Larry tells it, "We were catching snapper and I was reeling in a 2-pound mangrove snapper when a school of huge cobia came up trying to eat it. Bethke immediately dropped in a 10-inch lane snapper he'd just caught. One of the monster cobia grabbed it and took off. Then another big one grabbed it and the fight was on. An hour later, I gaffed it and got it in the boat just as the hook fell out." Bethke was using a light spinning rod, 25-pound test line, a 1/0 hook and the snapper for bait.
|Ready, set, bait
With October comes the post-season fever of Major League Baseball and opening day of stone crab season. The harvesting season for Florida's stone crab claws — only claws at least 2 3/4 inches in length can be taken and the crabs are returned to the sea — begins this Oct. 15. And, in Cortez, that means a lot of activity, as stone crab fishers set and bait their traps prior to the harvest date. Dennis Sell is loading his traps with pig's feet. Islander Photo: Edna Tiemann
The fall kingfish run is in high gear, with the big, fast fish being caught about a mile off the beaches in the Gulf of Mexico. Sizes run up to 20 pounds, with bigger fish being caught farther from shore.
Snapper also are still around both inshore and offshore. Grouper are also still coming on strong in the Gulf.
Mackerel are almost jumping on the dock at the Island piers, or so the jubilant reports proclaim. Seriously, macks and jacks are thick, with silver spoons serving well to bring in the catch.
Backwater fishers are catching lots of redfish and snook. Flounder are starting to show up, too, as are some early sheepshead.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said it’s been a mixed bag of fish for anglers there — mackerel, snapper, snook, redfish and small flounder.
Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier said the biggest mackerel he’s ever seen came to the dock last week, a 28-inch monster. There are lots of “mack attacks” taking place at the pier, although not all measure up to the big one, plus bluefish and catch-and-release redfish — the release being the result of reds over the slot limit. Sheepshead are starting to show up around the pilings, but snapper action has slowed a bit at the pier, Dave added.
At Annie’s Bait & Tackle on Cortez Road, reports included good catches of big snapper, barracuda, big sheepshead and lots of mackerel coming to the docks.
Danny Snasny at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said the kingfish run has begun, with fish in the 10- to 20-pound range being caught about a mile off the beach. The farther out you go, the bigger the fish seem to be, he said. The grouper and snapper catch is still great offshore as well. Backwater fishers are catching snook and reds on the higher tides near mangroves. Mackerel and jacks are thick by the passes, Danny said, with a fish coming on the hook on almost every cast. “The mackerel bite is off the chain right now,” he said, and silver spoons are the best bet for the best hookups. He’s also seen a few small pods of tarpon off the beaches, probably a part of what some call a resident population of silver kings in Tampa Bay.
Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he’s finding fishing “fantastic offshore of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. We are catching lots of big gag and red grouper, scamp, amberjack, kingfish, large sharks, barracuda, cobia up to 60 pounds and all the mangrove, yellowtail and Vermillion snapper you want to catch.” Capt. Larry said his best action is out around 35 miles in the Gulf, “but there are keeper grouper, snapper and kings closer in.” He said “catch-of-the-week” honors go to Larry Bethke for a 60-pound cobia.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina saidthe early kingfish run is on. “Numerous kings up to 40 inches have been taken mere yards from the beaches of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key,” he said, adding that “mixed in with the kings are truly large Spanish mackerel up to 27 inches, sharks and bonito. It will not be long before some departing tarpon schools will join the fray, with cobia coming in as well. Bait is thick all along the beaches and all you have to do is fish near the bait to be successful. A low-range tide early in the morning seems to be the ticket to success.” On the inshore scene, northern Sarasota Bay, Palma Sola Bay and around the mouth of the Manatee River have been providing his charters with good catches of redfish, trout, snook and snapper. He’s also finding a few flounder, “but they are scattered and big ones are rare.” Capt. Zach added that bait is thick almost everywhere.
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.