High winds, rough seas leave some anglers at dock
With small craft advisories in effect and high seas and wind for the majority of the week, fishing around Anna Maria Island was sporadic at best.
Most boaters stayed at the dock, avoiding the harsh conditions on the surrounding waters. Those who are die-hards were able to catch some redfish, spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook in protected waters along mangrove edges in the backcountry. Keep in mind that fishing in these conditions is as tough for us as it is for the fish we target. Patience and persistence are a virtue when trying to find the bite.
Rumors of Spanish mackerel are coming from the Anna Maria City Pier despite the strong northern winds. Gotcha plugs and silver spoons are producing the bite. Afternoon hours seem to be the best bet for the bite.
Before the wind, Capt. Warren Girle was fishing just off the beaches of both Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key in search of Spanish mackerel and kingfish. By anchoring and chumming with live shiners, Girle was able to lure the macks to the boat for the catch. As for the kings, they had become spotty at best. Average size of the mackerel was 3 to 4 pounds.
Moving inshore, Girle was finding decent amounts of redfish and trout on the flats of Sarasota Bay. Again, Girle was anchoring and chumming to lure fish to the boat. Girle was working sandy potholes to locate the fish. Slot-size reds were the norm along with spotted seatrout up to 20 inches.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business charters was working both the beaches and the flats for a variety of species before the wind picked up. He reports Spanish mackerel and kingfish were appearing just off the beaches during the morning hours, when live baits — shiners and threadfin herring — were getting results. On the flats, redfish and spotted seatrout provided enough action to keep the rods bending most of the day.
During the early part of the week, Gross migrated to the backwaters of the Manatee River and Palma Sola Bay to escape the wind. Even in harsh conditions, Gross was able to put a few fish in the boat. Catch-and-release snook were readily feeding on live shiners, although numbers of these fish were hard to find. The same applies for the reds and trout. When Gross was able to locate fish, they took the bait.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says due to strong winds, most pier fishers changed their plans to something other than fishing. Those who opted to fish managed to catch sheepshead, black drum and flounder. Using live shrimp for bait, pier fishers are having success around pilings at the bottom of the pier to find the bite.
Fishing during these conditions requires patience and a little persistence. The fish may not bite as aggressively or as often as normal. Using live shrimp is a great choice when fishing the structure of the pier. Remember to bump up your leader size to at least 30-pound fluorocarbon to prevent breaking off as the line rubs against the pilings.
Grady Smith at Island Discount Tackle is hearing reports from fishers at the Anna Maria City Pier that decent number of Spanish mackerel are being caught in the afternoon despite the strong winds and cooler weather. Pier fishers using Gotcha plugs or silver spoons are getting the bite.
In the backcountry, Smith says he’s hearing of spotted seatrout and redfish being caught, although due to the wind, most flats fishers stayed at the dock. Any who did venture on the water were fishing mangrove edges out of the wind.
Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters says, in spite of tropical storm Sandy throwing a monkey wrench in our weather patterns, this past week’s fishing was exceptional with some long rallies of ravenous schools of redfish, spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook chewing on shiners.
Redfish schools are all over the flats, cruising in the shallow waters. Howard’s clients were able to enjoy frenzied redfish action. Upper-slot redfish were harvested to provide some fillets for the dinner table.
Howard suggests looking for the cruising mullet schools to get an idea of where to hook up some of the other species. “Find a nice pothole on the flat, anchor up current, chum and let your bait offerings sweep into the hole,” Howard suggests.
“Thumb-sized pinfish and shiners rigged under a popping cork will draw all three species to the party,” Howard adds.
Looking forward, the fall fishing pattern is yielding some incredible fish-catching opportunities. Howard predicts the flats will continue to produce and, when the Gulf waters clear up, they will turn on. “Moderate temperatures and easterly winds will calm the waters and make for some beautiful days on the water,” Howard says.
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