Full moon enhances fishing opportunities
Settling into their summertime patterns, Anna Maria fishers have a variety of species to target with success. Whether offshore, nearshore or inshore, last week’s full moon tides proved prosperous in all venues.
With the red snapper fishery opening June 1, anglers are making the 20-mile trip offshore to target these sought-after fish, where the bite starts around depths of 120 feet of water. Live bait, including pinfish, shiners and threadfin herring are the preferred choice. If you’re limited to frozen bait, try sardines, squid or threadfin herring.
At these same depths, catch-and-release gag grouper action also remains strong. Red grouper are in the mix as well, so leave some room in the cooler after you limit out on red snapper.
Moving to the nearshore reefs, mangrove snapper are beginning to show. Live shiners and select shrimp will get you hooked up. And don’t be surprised to hook into a few nice flounder while you’re out there. Sandy areas around the structure are producing the best results.
Cobia are patrolling nearshore structure, too. Look for these big fish just under the surface of the water. When you spot one, pitch a live bait — pinfish or shiner — in front of their nose and hang on tight.
Inshore fishing for redfish, spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook is proving prosperous. Live bait is producing the bite. You can’t beat a live shiner free-lined over the grass flats to bring on a bite right now. Other bait producing a bite includes live select shrimp and pinfish.
And tarpon fishing around Anna Maria Island is going strong. Both live and dead bait techniques are hooking up fish. Try fishing the beaches in the morning and move to the passes in the afternoon for the strong outgoing tides.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing Spanish mackerel caught on strong moving tides. Pier fishers using small white jigs, such as speck rigs or crappie jigs, are catching Spanish mackerel in the 18-20 inch range. “Early in the morning has been good,” says Malfese. “But it seems the best time is during the strong tides when the bait is schooled up around the pier.”
Pier fishers using live shrimp are hooking up keeper-size black drum and a few flounder by putting bait on the bottom under the pier.
Mangrove snapper are being caught using the same method as for black drum, although most are barely legal in size. Small shiners are producing the snapper bite, but Malfese feels we have a few weeks to wait before the larger snapper arrive.
Jeff Medley at the south bait shop on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge Fishing Piers says for good action, target Spanish mackerel. Pier fishers using silver spoons, Gotcha plugs or small white jigs are catching macks up to 22 inches in length. The same applies for fishers using live greenbacks under a popping cork.
Pompano still are being caught towards the beginning of the pier in shallower water. Using Love’s lures pompano jigs, pier anglers are catching good numbers of pompano with most being at least 11 inches to the fork of the tail.
Cobia were making a showing at the pier this past week. Usually in pairs, you can spot these brown bombers patrolling schools of baitfish around the edges of the pier. Medley suggests having a few hand-sized live pinfish available in case you have an opportunity to cast at these strong-fighting fish. If you see one, simply free-line a pinfish right in front of the cobia and hang on tight. These fish generally eat a bait if they see it. Cobia up to 30 pounds are being landed daily.
Capt. Mark Johnston of Just Reel fishing charters is targeting big catch-and-release snook in Sarasota Bay. “We’re catching decent numbers of snook,” says Johnston. “And most of the ones we’re catching are over 30 inches.”
He’s using live shiners around mangrove islands with good tidal flow to catch trophy-sized snook.
In these same areas, Johnston is targeting redfish and, although schools of reds are a little hard to come by, he’s still managing to catch a few for dinner. “The reds are a little scattered,” says Johnston, “but we’re picking up a few here and there.”
Last but not least, Johnston is having good results live-bait fishing for spotted seatrout. Using live shiners free-lined over the grass flats, Johnston’s clients are catching keeper-sized trout. There’s a lot of small trout, so he says be persistent to catch the keeper-size fish for the dinner table.
Capt. Warren Girle is targeting tarpon when winds and weather allow. Fish are ranging 80-120 pounds. For bait, Girle is using live shiners, threadfin herring or crabs. Girle is targeting schooling fish on the beaches and in the passes to get the bite.
Cobia are making an appearance just off the beaches this past week and Girle is capitalizing on this opportunity. “We managed to catch two cobia in the 25-pound range while tarpon fishing,” says Girle. “They just swam right up to the boat.”
In Sarasota Bay, Girle is targeting spotted seatrout on deep grass flats. For bait, Girle is using either live shiners or Berkley Gulp shrimp on a jig head. The average size of the trout this week was 16-18 inches with the biggest coming in at 22 inches.
While targeting seatrout, Girle is hooking up with ladyfish and jack crevalle. These fish don’t have any food value, but they fight hard, which is good to fill the gap between trout catches.
Jonny Keyes at Island Discount Tackle is hearing about good action occurring around the nearshore reefs just west of Anna Maria Island. Bottom species, including flounder, mangrove snapper and hogfish are being caught on both live shrimp and shiners. Cobia are being sighted in these same areas, so be ready to pitch a bait at the occasional bomber.
Moving offshore, Keyes reports good numbers of red snapper being caught in water depths of 120 feet. He suggests live shiners or pinfish and, if you’re using frozen, try squid, sardines or threadfin herring.
Catch-and-release gag grouper action remains strong from depths of 40-plus feet. Red grouper are being caught in these same areas. Live pinfish and shiners are the baits of choice.
Moving inshore, beach fishers are catching a mixed bag. Look for schools of jack crevalle cruising the trough in the early morning. Meanwhile catch-and-release snook, spotted seatrout and some flounder are being caught around beach structure.
Finally, the silver king action remains consistent. Keyes suggests fishing the outgoing afternoon tides to find the bite. For bait, live crabs, shiners, threadfins and pinfish are producing.
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