Wes Brush of Anna Maria caught this nice-sized grouper while fishing with Capt. Ric Ehlis near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
Sheepies strong backwater catch; grouper, snapper good offshore
Fishing has slowed a bit in the past week, but there is still a good "bite" out there for the diligent.
Backwater action for redfish, sheepshead and black drum is very good right now. There are also some snook catches coming from the canals and near the seagrass flats in the bays.
Don't forget that trout season is closed until Jan. 1.
Offshore fishing for kingfish, mackerel and grouper is also good, as are the snapper catches.
At Corky's Live Bait, Tackle & Snack Shop on Cortez Road, Annamae Lahay said that Chris and Tammy and their three young children reported great fishing for redfish, bluefish, sheepshead and mackerel. Other reports include pompano, both king and Spanish mackerel, black drum, grouper and snook. She added that the "Paradise Bay Estates Boat Club Fishing Contest" in November brought in a lot of entrants and a lot of fun. Winners were Ed Smedley with an 18-inch-long red, which netted him $15, and a full sweep in the sheepshead category for Jim Huston, who took first, second and third.
At Annie's Bait and Tackle in Cortez, Capt. Marco said he's catching lots of redfish and a few snook in the canals on his inshore charters. Capt. Sam Kimball reports his offshore catch included snapper and a few kingfish.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said the best reports for backwater fishers right now seems to be sheepshead, plus some black drum, redfish on the seagrass flats and mangrove snapper along the Intracoastal Waterway. Offshore bottom fishing for grouper has been running up to the "excellent" category.
Tom at the Rod & Reel Pier said fishers are finding the action to be a bit slow the past few days, but there have been some good catches of sheepshead and stingrays and one cobia came to the dock.
Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said anglers there are reeling in sheepshead, snook, a few mackerel and some small black drum.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he's hearing of lots of black drum catches in the Manatee River, a few redfish being caught around the docks in Terra Ceia Bay, and lots of snook coming onto a hook on the warmer-water days in the bays.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said his offshore charters included mackerel, snapper and tons of small grouper catches. Backwater fishing action included redfish, a few snook and sheepshead.
At Skyway Bait and Tackle, reports include lots of sheepshead from the fishing piers near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, a few redfish coming out of Miguel Bay and near Joe's Island, and there are still some mackerel catches.
Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach, also out of Catchers, said he's hooking up Spanish mackerel and bluefish, which are hitting on shiners from the near-shore reefs and sandbars. Juvenile redfish in extremely shallow water on the mangrove shoreline are also a good bet, as are large catch-and-release trout in the deep holes throughout Palma Sola Bay. There is also good snook action at night under lighted docks anywhere in the bays.
Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he's finding fishing to be very good. He's catching lots of gag grouper, red grouper, scamp, mangrove snapper, amberjack, kingfish, Spanish mackerel, sharks to 7 feet in length, triggerfish, porgys and margates. He also got into a special surprise - a school of giant bull redfish offshore. "We were fishing out to 150 feet, using live pinfish and sardines as bait," he added.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina in Cortez saidhis fishing action remained pretty steady, with a lot of redfish, sheepshead, black drum and a few snook, trout and flounder on the inside. "Shrimp was the most productive bait inshore," he said. "Off the beaches of Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island, there was still some good Spanish mackerel, bluefish and kingfish hookups, along with an occasional cobia. White bait was the ticket in the Gulf if you could get some. The bait is spotty and on its way out for the winter."
Capt. Terry Frankford aboard the Reelin & Chillin said his charters had to work for their catch at the beginning of the Thanksgiving holiday, "but things did start picking up towards the end. The cold weather along with 30-knot winds for a couple days didn't help with the bite. Fishing started to heat up after the weather cooperated, and anglers managed to catch many species including snook, redfish, black drum, pompano and sheepshead.
On my boat Magic, we caught lots of black drum up to 24 inches in length. One or two keeper-size redfish were caught on every trip out, too, as well as lots of sheepshead and snapper.
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.