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Date of Issue: December 13, 2007

All reds all the time in the bay; grouper everywhere in Gulf

Fishing pic
Going away redfish catch
Islander Amanda Karge caught an 8-pound redfish while fishing with her family and Capt. Mark Howard aboard Howard’s Sumotime Charters. Her father, Les Karge and wife Mystie, were in town to visit with Amanda before he had to report for his third tour of duty in Iraq.

Redfish action in the backwater continues to be strong and probably the best bet for inshore anglers. What with snook and trout out of season, go for the reds right now. Flounder are also starting to be caught, as are some sheepshead.

Offshore action for grouper is superb, although most catches are running to gags rather than reds. There are also some scamp, cobia and snapper being caught.

I’ve been having a problem with dolphin snagging my catches in Tampa Bay of late. “Fish on” is heard, then just as quickly, “dolphin on the fish.” I had to move three times on one charter last week, only to have the same problem each place. I’ve never had this happen in 30 years of fishing. Go figure.

Capt. Mark Howard of Sumotime Charters said his week has been spent fishing for redfish and grouper. “Inshore, I have been finding redfish around docks and potholes,” he said. “A quiet approach is the key to hooking them.” There are also a lot of catch-and-release trout, ladyfish and mackerel in the deep seagrass beds. Offshore, he’s finding grouper to be very active. While fishing with Islander Kurt Janisch we nailed many gag grouper, scamp and mangrove snapper.

Capt. Thom Smith out of Annie’s Bait & Tackle on Cortez Road said he’s been catching redfish, catch-and-release trout and some small catch-and-release snook.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said redfish are the inshore catch right now. Grouper fishing in the Gulf is excellent, with gags better than reds and the catch coming from the 50-foot depths about 12 miles out from the Island. Kingfish are still around, although only in the 7- to 12-pound range, with one boat reporting a 12-fish catch one day.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said redfish are starting to show up around the pilings. Fishers there are also catching a few mackerel, some small mangrove snapper and some small redfish. “It’s a mixed bag,” Bob said, “but the fish are mostly small.”

Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said flounder, mackerel and sheepshead are the best catches there.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said that big mangrove snapper are coming from near the docks in the Manatee River, as well as redfish and black drum to 10 pounds.

At Tropic Isles Marina, the report is small blacktip sharks coming out of Terra Ceia Bay.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said it’s grouper season for sure in the Gulf. He’s catching gags to 25 pounds and reds to 18. Snapper action is also good, with mangroves to 5 pounds. Also within the cooler with Capt. Larry’s boat are hog snapper, triggerfish and scampt. He’s still catching big kingfish to 35 pounds, with most of the action come from 40 to 125 feet of water, with live pinfish, sandperch and sardines working well as bait.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina said he took Vern Jakes and his crew out on Friday to a varied catch fishing in a number of Gulf locations. “The weather was sublime,” he said, “but the day was a slow starter. For more than two hours we plied reefs and wrecks off Anna Maria Island to no avail. Toward midday off Longboat Key it was ‘Katie bar the door’ for several hours, with phenomenal numbers of chunky bluefish. When you could get a bait past the ravenous bluefish, we also nailed several cobia, Spanish mackerel, grouper and jacks.” He’s also catching redfish, black sea bass, ladyfish, small gag grouper, kings and bonito.

On my boat Magic, we limiting-out on redfish and catching mangrove snapper to 17 inches in length.

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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