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Date of Issue: May 26, 2010

Fish flats as evening low tides rise

Scott Cullen of Sarasota with a 36-inch snook caught with a MirrOlure in north Sarasota Bay. Islander Photo: Courtesy Mike Davidson

Roger Glass reeled up this blacktip shark at the Rod & Reel Pier last week. Glass has been coming to Anna Maria from the Gatwick area of England for “about 25 years,” he said. But his four-week stay was cut short by a week due to flight delays caused by volcanic ash from Iceland. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy

One of the effects of this week’s full moon will be extreme low tides after about 6:30 p.m. That’s when anglers can set up on a flat just off a pot hole or swash and catch fish as they float onto the flats.

Because incoming tides have been bringing in scattered weeds, anglers should use Berkley Gulp baits, rigged weedless, various weedless jerk baits or live shrimp hooked through the tail. Set up on the flats about an hour before the low tide bottoms out to be ready for when the fish slide on the flats from their holes.

Capt. T.J. Stewart of Cast Away Charters said for the most part redfish have been hit and miss, there are a lot of trout around as well as some nice-size snook in the mid-30-inch range. “Snook are scattered for the most part,” Stewart said. “Where we used to get 30 to 40 snook in a spot, now you’re doing well if you get 5 to 10.”

Stewart said he’s doing well tarpon fishing at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. “And if you aren’t getting tarpon,” Stewart said, “drop down to smaller baits and get all the Spanish mackerel you want.”

Capt. Danny Stasny from Island Discount Tackle said it’s time to break out the tarpon gear. The silver kings are loaded from Longboat Key to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. “Everybody has been buying tarpon rods and reels,” he said.

Stasny said the early-morning top-water bite has been pretty good using a MirrOlure Top Dog Jr. in chartreuse or greenback with a white belly. He’s popped mostly trout, and an occasional snook or redfish off the top.

He said the redfish bite has been quality with schools of 15-30 fish. “A lot of guys don’t know where to go,” Stasny said. “The best thing they can use is a gold spoon. You can cover a lot of water and they’ll hit a gold spoon. I keep the spoon at about a medium pace. I like to use weedless so you can bump it along the grass a little bit.”

He said there are plenty of Spanish mackerel around, and anglers can pull up to the edge of the Intracoastal Waterway where a grass flat meets a channel and start throwing out chum to attract them. On the beaches, Stasny has been seeing cobia, although he’s seen them right off Bean Point, Emerson Point and on the 3-mile artificial reefs.

He added a lot of shark are on the beaches with small bonnetheads and 5-6 foot bull and blacktips. The inshore reefs, wrecks and dredge holes also are loaded with shark.

With incoming tides bringing in grass on the top of the water, anglers will have to pick their days to work, or be prepared with plenty of weedless baits.

Kyle Dodrill from the Sunshine Skyway south fishing pier said anglers have caught a lot of snapper, tarpon, and Spanish mackerel. Grouper and cobia have been hooked occasionally.

Annamae Lahay from Corky’s Live Bait Tackle and Thrift Store said her customers are still reporting Sarasota Bay and Palma Sola Bay are holding Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, small sharks and flounder. In addition, redfish and trout are in the grass flats. She said there are more redfish reports in Palma Sola Bay last week. She also has received reports of tarpon and whiting in Longboat Pass and in Gulf waters, and cobia around the Skyway Bridge. Most people have been having success with large live shrimp, she said.

Derek Olson from the Rod & Reel Pier said there are a bunch of tarpon around the pier that anglers haven’t touched. He said 3-4 foot blacktips and bonnetheads have been caught at night and one angler hooked into a big cobia. He said on May 20, someone caught two monster redfish. Finally, Olson has seen anglers catch a couple mangrove snapper and one snook.

Capt. Warren Girle reported keeper grouper, limits of snapper, and kingfish to 25 pounds offshore. He said there are scattered tarpon on the beach, but they’re in pods of one or two. “I haven’t seen any big schools yet,” Girle said.

Spanish mackerel are thick in 50 feet of water. Girle said he’s been targeting a couple good-size schools of redfish in north Sarasota Bay, along with schooling trout in 3-4 feet of water. Snook are scattered, and Girle said he’s been catching them along with a bycatch of redfish.

Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters said with the heat of the summer increasing, now is the time to adjust to summer patterns. He said the prime time to fish is early in the morning and the evenings. Combine the time periods with a strong tide and anglers can have some productive days on the water.

He reported tarpon have made their move into Tampa Bay and are starting to show on the beaches. “As we get closer to the full moon on May 27, the tarpon will increase in numbers,” Howard said. “Load your live well with a variety of baits for these picky game fish. Pass crabs, blue crabs, pinfish, big greenbacks, threadfins and mullet are some of my favorite baits.”

He said speckled trout continue to be the “go-to, fun fish” for food and numbers He said to fish the edges of the Intracoastal and along drop offs of sand bars for some action. Cobia are around and still hungry. Howard suggests a medium-action pole ready for the tasty predators.

He added sharks are everywhere in Tampa Bay from the shipping channel to the mangroves. He reported a 5-foot blacktip shark that shut down the redfish bite back in the mangroves in 2 feet of water.

“Snook fishing has been very slow as I am just not seeing many fish in their usual haunts due to this winter’s harsh cold,” Howard said. “Let’s hope they will make a quick recovery.”

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