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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Fishing
fishing cut martin
Wow! Whoever said there aren’t any big kingfish out in the Gulf hasn’t been fishing aboard the Happy Hooker One Charters out of Cortez. John P. Martin, left, needed help from First Mate Todd Best to hoist this 60-pound king, caught after a 30-minute fight that pretty nearly stripped all the line off his reel — all 500 yards of it. Other action that day included three more kings, 40 mangrove snapper, 12 Spanish mackerel and two cobia.

Big trout hitting now, since season is closed, of course

The near-perfect weather last week attracted people and grouper to the beaches. Red and gag grouper are moving closer to shore, with good catches reported as close to the Island as 7 miles out.

Kingfish action has slowed a bit, although for those willing to work for the big kings the payout is fish of 25 pounds or so.

Backwater fishing for redfish continues to be excellent, snook fishing is fair although the linesiders caught are generally small, and there are also some good catches of 4-pound flounder being reported from the Terra Ceia Bay area.

And, since trout season is closed, of course, some really big fish are being caught and released right now.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said there is lots of bait hanging around the pier, and it seems to be attracting some really, really big redfish, black drum, plus a few sheepshead are lurking near the pilings.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish charters said he took Jarad Sellers and friends on a four-hour midnight trip and caught 30 mangrove snappers to 6 pounds using cut sardines as bait. He also took Bill Mackson and friends out to catch a nice batch of gag grouper to 20 pounds, limit catches of mangrove snapper to 6 pounds, sharks to 6 feet in length, and hooked into a few kingfish, in about 60 feet of water.

Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said lots of sheepshead are starting to show up as the winter season starts. There are some good hookups of keeper-size snook, mackerel some days, and a few mangrove snapper.

Lee Gause at Perico Harbor Bait & Tackle said that now that trout season is closed, some really big ones are being caught and released along the Perico seagrass flats, plus a few keeper-size snook, but redfish seems to be the best bet for waders and boaters alike in the backwater.

Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he went south last week, near Longbar Point in Sarasota Bay, Buttonwood Harbor and Sisters Keys, and caught redfish up to 26 inches in length, plus lots of smaller reds. He also put his charters onto a couple keeper-size snook, and catch-and-release trout are "all over the place" right now.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said a few kingfish were caught last week for those who wanted to work for them, despite the fact that the water last week was still a little warmer than it should be for good action. Farther offshore, grouper have moved to within 7 and 15 miles from shore, with good reports of gags caught up to 15 pounds. Inshore action for redfish is still the best bet, with the best action coming from seagrass flats.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said lots of catch-and-release trout are being caught in Terra Ceia Bay. Snook — at least the big ones — are still hard to catch, but there are lots of reds coming to the dock as well as some flounder to 4 pounds.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said they’ve caught a few kingfish to 25 pounds out in the Gulf, redfish in the bays and enough snook to keep his charters happy.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said he’s caught some good-size snook. Kingfish action has slowed a bit, but redfish are taking up any of the slack.

Capt. Matt Denham on the Rip-Tide out of Catchers said he's finding he doesn’t have to go as far out in the Gulf to catch good-size red and gag grouper. Weather has been perfect in the past few days for him, and they caught grouper to 25 pounds, plus mangrove snapper to 6 pounds.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said he put charter Rich Futch onto kingfish to 25 pounds, mackerel to 30 inches in length, some bonita, plus snook, catch-and-release trout and redfish, all caught on one trip.

Capt. Sam Kimball said he’s been catching mangrove snapper to 7 pounds, gag grouper to 12 pounds, mackerel to 12 pounds, plus banded rudderfish and triggerfish. He’s finding kingfish action to be on the slow side, though.

On my boat Magic, we have found that redfish remain our mainstay, with hookups of up to 20 fish per trip common. We’ve also caught some catch-and-release trout to 24 inches in length.

Good luck and good fishing.

Capt. Mike Heistand is a 20-year fishing guide. Call him at 779-9607 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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