Matt Whitenack, 16, and brother Drew, 12, caught some nice-sized gag and red grouper, respectively, while fishing offshore with Capt. Larry McGuire.
|... and now, one of each
Kurt Whitenack caught both gag and red grouper while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire. The fish were caught prior to the federal grouper fishing prohibition taking effect Feb. 15, said McGuire.
Whiting, sheepies hit the hooks in a big way
Whiting and sheepshead are the fish du jour to go after right now for backwater action, with lots of hookups being reported just about everywhere. Other inshore reports include redfish, trout and a few snook.
Offshore action is producing some really big amberjack, some at better than 70 pounds, plus snapper, triggerfish, grouper and an occasional cobia.
At Corky’s Bait & Tackle Shop on Cortez Road, reports are good with the rising air and water temperatures and abundant sunshine. Fishers are heading out in droves and the fishing has been "tremendous." In the waters of Palma Sola Bay, anglers have reported lots of redfish and trout being caught using live shrimp and Black Salty’s. In Sarasota Bay near the docks and seawalls, fishers have reported catching lots of sheepshead using Mr. Sheepshead's cooked sand fleas and "Magic Potion," as well as redfish, trout, whiting and pompano on live shrimp. There are also reports of big snook caught with Black Salty's - a new bait available on the west coast of Florida. Offshore, there are good catches of whiting, pompano, snapper and some redfish on live shrimp, as well as some cobia and snook.
Capt. Thom Smith said he’s putting his charters onto small redfish, sheepshead and some good-sized trout.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said it’s sheepshead and reds in the backwater right now, with shrimp being the bait of choice. Offshore action is good for mangrove snapper, triggerfish, lane snapper and some really big amberjack, some of the latter coming in at 70 pounds. There are also good reports of porgies, mutton snapper and yellowtail, Bill added.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said fishers have been catching "tons" of whiting and a few sheepshead.
Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said anglers there have been doing well with sheepshead, mangrove snapper, whiting and a few mackerel, and he added that fishing should start to "really pick up" as the weather improves.
At Annie’s Bait and Tackle in Cortez, Capt. Mark Johnson said sheepshead have "invaded the bays," with catches up to 6 pounds being common. He’s also catching small redfish, and snook fishing is "OK, but most are small." Capt. Sam Kimball said his offshore trips are producing mangrove snapper to 6 pounds, triggerfish and grunts.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said there are good reports of mangrove snapper and sheepshead coming from the artificial reefs, with some of the sheepies topping 5 pounds. There are also some mackerel and whiting being caught, but snook action is scarce.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina said he’s catching lots of sheepshead, mangrove snapper, triggerfish and lots of small grouper. Snook action shouldn’t start to really heat up for another month or so, he predicted.
At Skyway Bait and Tackle, reports include small redfish coming out of Terra Ceia Bay and sheepshead off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge area in Tampa Bay. There are also reports of lots of whiting being caught.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina saidhis charters have been enjoying great weather and great angling action the past couple of days. "The Gulf has been giving up huge sheepshead and lots of ’em," Capt. Zach said, "and also mangrove snapper and gag grouper. Most of the action has been in about 35 feet of water over hard bottom. Inshore it has been more big sheepies, a handful of reds and snook, and some really nice speckled trout to 20 inches." He said he took Dennis Waterson and his wife from Illinois out last week and the couple "slayed some sheepies up to 8 pounds just offshore. Lloyd Johnston and his crew from Minnesota also did well with the sheepies, mangrove snapper and the best flounder catch I have seen in recent memory. The foursome also did well with speckled trout to 20 inches in Palma Sola."
On my boat Magic, we’ve been getting into all the sheepshead you could want, some up to 5 pounds in size, plus mangrove snapper to 3 pounds, black drum to 5 pounds and lots of whiting.
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.