Wait out bad weather, rewards come soon
With recent storms and a string of days with strong north winds, fishing around Anna Maria was, at best, sporadic.
Large amounts of rainfall combined with a drop in water temperature have caused the fish we target to change feeding patterns. This can make them harder to catch.
In situations like this, it’s best to search for clean water and a fishing spot that’s out of the wind. When and if you find the fish, be patient. They may be apprehensive on taking a bait. Sometimes they may not eat a bait at all.
Ultimately, the best bet is to wait for the wind and local waters to settle down before fishing.
Capt. Mark Johnston of Just Reel fishing charters is working the waters of north Sarasota Bay in search of spotted seatrout. Most trout being caught are between the 15- to 20-inch slot, although every once in a while Johnston is catching fish exceeding 20 inches.
For the reds, Johnston is venturing to south Tampa Bay, where fishing shallow grass flats adjacent to mangrove shorelines is producing slot-size reds. Johnston feels the best bite is occurring during the high tides.
Capt. Warren Girle is fishing the grass flats of Sarasota Bay for redfish and spotted seatrout. Girle is working the shallower flats on the east side of the bay, finding spotted seatrout up to 24 inches. In the same area, Girle is catching reds up to 31 inches. For both species, he’s putting out either live shiners or soft plastics on a 1/8-ounce jig head.
Moving onto the deeper flats, Girle says he’s catching numerous spotted seatrout, although most are in the 15-inch range. Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and jack crevalle are hooking up in these same areas.
Moving offshore, Girle is fishing nearshore structures for Spanish mackerel, bonito and schooley kingfish. With a string of days with high winds, Girle was only out on the reefs one day last week, but, he said, the bite was “on fire.”
Jonny Keyes at Island Discount Tackle is hearing of good action around the local piers for Spanish mackerel and even some schooley kings. Live bait or artificials will get this bite going. Keyes is using a tandem rig — two jigs on one leader. Most know these rigs as Love’s lures, and DOA makes a reasonable facsimile. If using live bait, shiners are the ticket.
Spotted seatrout are hanging around the local piers on the north end of the Island. To target these fish, Keyes is using the same tandem rig.
Moving onto the grass, anglers are reporting good action on the flats with redfish, spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook. Most fishers are using live shiners to get these fish to bite, although some lures are working, too. In the early mornings, try using a top-water plug for explosive action. As the sun gets up in the sky, switch to a soft plastic or a gold spoon.
Ted Pasquantonio at the Rod & Reel Pier says fishing in the mornings for mackerel and pompano is proving prosperous, but the bite is only lasting about an hour. Pier fishers are using Gotcha Plugs or white jigs to get these fish to bite.
Once the mackerel bite is over, pier fishers are switching to live shrimp or shiners to target redfish and flounder. Casting baits under the pier is producing flounder up to 22 inches. Reds are being caught under the pier but, remember, some of these reds can be large, which means you’ll need stout tackle to successfully reel them from under the pier — at least 30-pound fluorocarbon for leader and a stout 1/0 hook. And it won’t hurt to add some lead to make sure your bait stays on the bottom.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business fishing charters is covering the grass flats of Tampa Bay and Sarasota bay in search of reds, trout and catch-and-release snook. Gross is hooking up live shiners to get these flats species to bite.
Gross is having success with redfish up to 26 inches and some spotted seatrout in the same size range on live bait. For the snook, most are in the slot of 28-33-inches — the biggest 36 inches.
Gross says he counters the recent drop in water temperature by adding a split-shot. That keeps the bait where the fish are, toward the bottom. When water temps drop, fish can become hesitant to chase a bait. Adding a split-shot to your line will limit your bait’s swim area, which can make it easier for the target fish to eat it.
Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters says his trips this past week yielded spotted seatrout, redfish, catch-and-release snook, flounder and mackerel. The spotted seatrout bite has been steady with some longer than 20 inches in the mix.
“A nice lively shiner hooked through the tail has produced some steady action on gator-size trout in potholes on the local flats,” Howard says.
Redfish and snook are feeding in the potholes and up in the mangroves as the incoming tides reach the high water mark.
“Look for the fishing action on the water to hit overdrive as we march into late spring and early summer patterns,” Howard says.
Howard suggests paying attention to the tides and current to help optimize your time on the water.
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