Fishing – 07-20-2011

Inshore, offshore fishing results rise despite high temps


Inshore fishing around the grass flats and beaches of Anna Maria Island is still producing good numbers of spotted sea trout despite rising water temps.

Early mornings and shallower water are the best to target trout. As the day goes on, move on to deeper flats where these fish tend to take refuge from warmer water. On the higher tides, you can target redfish and snook close to the mangrove edges. Chumming with live shiners is a surefire way to lure these fish to within casting distance. Once you get them chummed up, aim at the boils indicating a fish just ate a chummer.

Offshore fishers are heading out to depths of 150 feet of water, targeting multiple species of snapper — red, mangrove, vermillion, lane and yellowtail all appear on the list. Red grouper as well as gag grouper are still abundant offshore. Both are being caught in good numbers. Other reef fish reported include Key West grunts, trigger fish, hogfish, and jolt head porgies.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business charters is fishing both nearshore structure as well as the flats of Southern Tampa Bay in search of a variety of species.

Nearshore, Gross is catching mangrove snapper and Spanish mackerel using small shiners as bait. For the snapper, Gross likes to use a No. 2 live-bait hook due to the small size of the bait he’s using. For Spanish mackerel, he switches to a 1/0 Aberdeen hook, which has a long shank to prevent the macks from biting through his leader.

On the grass flats, Gross is catching a mixed bag. Typically, Gross is starting on the rising tides fishing for spotted sea trout in depths of 4-6 feet of water. While targeting trout at these depths, Gross is hooking into flounder as well as blacktip sharks in the 3-foot range. As the tide rises, Gross is moving closer towards the mangrove-lined shore, and he’s finding catch-and-release snook with good results.

Capt. Sam Kimball of Legend Charters is fishing both offshore and nearshore, resulting in numerous species coming to the boat. Starting offshore, Kimball is catching red grouper in the 12-14 pound range using live shiners. Also offshore, mangrove and lane snapper are becoming more abundant. Limits of mangrove snapper up to 5 pounds have been an average catch. Hogfish in the 5-pound range are being caught in the same areas. Kimball suggests switching your bait over to live shrimp to target them.

Moving to nearshore structure, Kimball is targeting Key West grunts, porgies and triggerfish. Small pieces of frozen squid or cut shrimp work great for these reef dwelling delicacies. Spanish mackerel are being caught on live shiners fished on a flat line behind the boat.

Dave Cochran at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing the best fishing action occurring in the early morning and evening hours. Spanish mackerel are exploding through bait schools passing by the pier on both the incoming and outgoing tides. On days when the bait congregates around and under the pier, mangrove snapper are being caught in decent numbers. Flounder are being caught using small white bait fished on the bottom around the pier pilings.

Capt. Josh Peurifoy of Capt. Josh Charters is fishing around the nearshore reefs, catching limits of mangrove snapper. Small shiners are the ticket to lure these tasty little snapper into biting your hook. Also on nearshore structures, Peurifoy is catching Spanish mackerel in the 20-inch range. With the abundance of goliath grouper on the nearshore reefs, Peurifoy is rigging keeper-size Spanish mackerel on a 14/0 hook and consistently catching and releasing goliaths in the 100-pound range.

Inside Tampa Bay, Peurifoy is targeting tarpon using live pinfish and threadfin herring for bait. When asked how the bite has been in the bay, he says, “It’s still pretty darn good out there.” Tarpon in the 80- to 120-pound class have been the norm with an average of four to five fish being hooked per trip.

Also in the bay, Peurifoy is catching spotted sea trout on the deeper grass flats. He’s chumming trout with live shiners. “Sometimes you need to get those fish fired up a little,” claims Peurifoy. “Plus it gives you a target to throw your bait to.”

Capt. Warren Girle is finding schools of redfish in Sarasota Bay cruising the shallower flats around the schools of mullet. “There are new fish that have moved into the bay,” says Girle.

These schools of reds contain slot fish with some larger ones mixed in. Girle plucked a 26-inch redfish from one of the schools, as well as some smaller-sized fish, all using white bait. Moving to the deeper flats, Girle is catching limits of spotted sea trout with the biggest coming in at 24 inches. Also apparent on the deeper flats are bluefish and ladyfish.

In deeper water, Girle is catching all the red grouper he can handle. The nearshore structures are loaded with juvenile fish. Along with the red grouper, Girle is catching mangrove snapper up to 20 inches. Key West grunts are in the mix in these same areas, as well as some Spanish mackerel.

Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Charters says the summer time pattern is in full swing and the action has been good on his recent charters. High temperatures and humid weather have made fishing early in the morning and late in the afternoon the more comfortable and productive option for the inshore waters when targeting catch-and-release snook, redfish and speckled trout. Howard suggests looking for the redfish and snook in the shade of the mangroves on a high tide and in the deep potholes during low tide.

Howard says speckled trout have been scattered with catches coming in 4-6 feet of water, with some big-sized gators landed on last week’s trips.

Howard says shark fishing continues to be an excellent option as a lot of sharks have moved into the bay and off the beaches. “Pound for pound, sharks are some of the hardest fighting adversaries on the water,” Howard says. “Caution and care must be used to release these apex predators unharmed after a battle.”

“Looking forward, the moderate tides next week will play an important part of your fish-catching success. Plan on being in your spot when the tidal flow is moving to increase your chances of success,” Howard says.

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