Sheepshead rule in backwater; gags, snapper good offshore
We're talking dinner here
Coryn Marsik and dad, Tom, were all grins at Coryn's redfish, caught in a canal in Cortez.
Click on image to enlarge
Winter fishing continues, with loads of reports of big sheepshead up to 6 pounds coming in from guides working structures or near the docks.
With water temperatures still cool, work the backwaters or offshore to find the warmer waters - better than 62 degrees - for the best action.
And I'll be at the Sarasota Boat Show at Robarts Arena on Ringling Boulevard in Sarasota at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 7 to talk about fishing around structures Ñ a good topic for this time of year. Hope to see you there.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said offshore fishing is excellent right now, with limit-catches of mangrove snapper and lots of gag grouper caught trolling anywhere from four to seven miles offshore. In the backwater, Bill said sheepshead fishing is in full swing right now, plus there are plenty of catch-and-release trout and redfish for anyone willing to go hunting for them.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said action there included sheepshead, black drum, and a few redfish, with sheepies being the best bet.
Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he's been catching gag grouper to 12 pounds, plus red grouper, scamp, porgys, margates and limit catches of mangrove snapper offshore in upwards of 95 feet of water using using frozen sardines and live shrimp as bait.
Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said he's seeing some snook coming onto the dock at night, plus sheepshead, black drum and a few mangrove being caught almost any time.
Lee Gause at Perico Harbor Bait & Tackle said there are lots of catch-and-release trout being nabbed on the seagrass flats right now, plus a few redfish. Most fishers are using shrimp with excellent results - notwithstanding the fact that the shrimp are big and fat right now.
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he's catching redfish to 24 inches, trout to 20 inches and lots of sheepshead.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said his hit-list for the week included sheepshead, trout and redfish. Lots of anglers are trying for snapper along the shipping channel in Tampa Bay, some with good results, he added.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he's been onto some really good trout bites in the last few days, plus sheepshead to 5 pounds and some hit-and-miss redfish, but he's still able to put his charters onto some big ones.
Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said reds, trout and sheepies were his big winners last week, adding that he's finding most of the best action around structures.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said he's been putting his charters onto sheepshead to 4 pounds, trout to 3 pounds, redfish stretching out to 26 inches, a few mangrove snapper and some flounder last week.
On my boat Magic we have been catching sheepshead to a whopping 6 pounds, redfish to 6 pounds, catch-and-release trout to 4 pounds and a few pompano.
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 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.