Fast tides, endless bait start reels hissing
Alex Zwolak with a 30-inch grouper caught under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Zwolak was fishing with Island residents Lori Waggoner and Debi Wohlers. Islander Photo: Courtesy Lori Waggoner.
Tides will be rapid in the morning this week, so small pass crabs should be running with the current in the passes. Tarpon have been spotted occasionally, so anglers shouldy try pitching a crab in front of a silver king for a possible tussle.
Bait is thick inshore and offshore, inviting kingfish, cobia, Spanish mackerel and more to waters around the Island.
Kyle Dodrill from the Sunshine Skyway south fishing pier sad tarpon are under the bridge in full force, along with mangrove snapper, Spanish mackerel, cobia and grouper.
Capt. Warren Girle said offshore, there are a ton of kingfish in 30-50 feet of water, along with Spanish mackerel, grouper, snapper, cobia, Key West grunts and bait pods from 200 yards on out. “There’s so much bait, it’s scary,” Girle said.
Inshore, he said Spanish mackerel and bluefish are busting thick pods of threadfins, glass minnows and greenbacks. He reported a trip in which he caught redfish to 32 inches, trout to 22 and snook to 28.
He added sharks are starting to show off Bean Point and Longboat Pass, mixed with Spanish mackerel and kingfish.
“What do you want to fish for?” Girle said. “It’s all out there.”
Capt. Logan Bystrom recommends fishing bait schools off the beaches for kingfish, Spanish mackerel and sharks with a No. 3 Marlin wire leader and a 4/0 long shank hook with shiners for bait. Bystrom also has been fishing inshore grass flats for trout.
Capt. Zach Zacharias of the DEE JAY II out of Parrot Cove Marina said angling action is back to rod-bending normal. He reported a trio of anglers caught a mess of above-average size seatrout May 6. There were a number in the 20-plus-inch range and precious few under the slot. Earlier in the week he had several trout in the mid-20s. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, and small shark also were common in Sarasota Bay, Anna Maria Sound and Palma Sola Bay. Zacharias has not been targeting snook much, but he has encountered some while searching out redfish. “Speaking of redfish,” Zacharias said, “there are quite a few around the area but a tough nut to crack. I can't quite figure out why they are being so finicky. The water temperatures have reached the 80-degree threshold and summer patterns are coming into play, so maybe the reds will respond accordingly.”
He said there’s a huge variety of bait moving in the bays and along the beaches. Bally-hoo, big threadfin, shad and such are fairly thick. “I witnessed a number of tarpon slamming the larger bait in the ditch from Gilligan’s Island south to the spoil bank at the tip of Long Bar,” he said.
John Keyes of Island Discount Tackle said there have been some jack crevalle caught off the beaches, a few pompano in Longboat Pass, a good offshore kingfish bite past 7 miles and a good amberjack bite around 12-mile reefs.
Capt. Ray Markham of Backwater Promotions reported fishing around the Terra Ceia Bay and lower Tampa Bay area this past week has been excellent for large spotted seatrout. An assortment of bluefish, redfish, Spanish mackerel, and flounder were also in the catch. Tarpon are beginning to show, and, he said, cobia were seen around channel markers near the Skyway Bridge this week.
“Catches of roe-filled female trout are common right now as these big gator trout prepare to spawn,” Markham said. “One of Markham’s anglers caught a trout that tipped the scales at just over 5 pounds and was caught on a CAL 1/4-ounce jig head with a night glow Shad tail by DOA Lures while fishing lower Tampa Bay in 8 feet of water. He said the bottom structure was a combination of shell, sand, grass, rock and live bottom that held plenty of small baitfish and crustaceans.
Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters said the spring-to-summer transition has begun. The speckled trout fishing has been excellent with limit catches on every trip and some to 25 inches. He said shiners have flooded the flats, making the bait game easy. Spanish mackerel are thick in the bay, blacktip sharks are cruising the flats and drop-offs, and tarpon are starting to make a show inside the bay. “With the upcoming big tides this week, the fishing should be red hot,” Howard said.
Dave Sork of Anna Maria City Pier said anglers there have been landing Spanish mackerel, flounder and little sharks.
Jim Malfese from the Rod & Reel Pier said anglers there have been catching some Spanish mackerel and a few flounder in the morning, while a couple grouper under pier have been cutting them off. “They’re not keeper, though,” Malfese said.
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