Ken Kemp of Chicago shows off a pompano he caught on a shrimp/popping cork rig while fishing with Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime fishing charters.
Mikey Kasten, left, Chris Galati Jr., center, and Tyler Robinson, the angler who bested this 52-pound cobia, show off the catch. It was reeled up from 140 feet of water west of Anna Maria Island. The trio of friends were fishing with Galati Jr.’s dad, who captains the charter boat Miss Anna Maria out of Galati Marine, Anna Maria. Islander Photo: Courtesy Chris Galati Sr.
Change of weather provides anglers variety of results
In between cold fronts, Anna Maria fishers are enjoying calm winds and calmer water, which in turn results in some great fishing. A variety of species are being caught by shore fishers and boaters.
On the beaches, shore fishers are using pompano rigs to target a number of species. Of course, pompano are the sought-after fish, but they aren’t the only fish feeding along the shorelines. Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, flounder and black drum are cruising the beaches in search of wintertime snacks. The pompano jigs will get you tied into any of these species, but you can also try Berkley Gulp shrimp on a jighead. When selecting baits to use on the beach, try to pick light colors, such as white, glow or chartreuse.
On the flats, fishers are catching decent numbers of spotted seatrout. Best approach to catch these fish is to drift and jig. Again, Berkley Gulp shrimp are a great offering, but DOA Cal jigs will get the job done, too. Plus, with the DOA’s, you get twice as many jigs for a lower price. While drifting, target sandy potholes on deeper grass flats to find the fish. Once you hook a trout, drop your anchor and thoroughly fish the vicinity.
Redfish are being reported around docks in sheltered areas of canals and the Manatee River. Live shrimp fished on the bottom are a great bait to target these dock-dwelling fish. I like to use a circle hook with a 1/4-ounce egg sinker that rests right on the eye of the hook for rigging. Remember to set your drag accordingly when fishing docks. Keep it tight enough that you can horse a large red out of the structure before it cuts you off on one of the pilings.
Jeff Medley at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge South Fishing Pier says migratory species such as Spanish mackerel, bluefish and bonito, are being caught on either artificials or live bait. For artificials Medley suggests Gotcha plugs or silver spoons. For live bait, you can’t beat a free-lined shiner.
Sheepshead and flounder are inhabiting the pilings and structures under the pier. For either pilings or structure under the pier. For either species, a live shrimp fished on the bottom will get the bite. If the sheepies become finicky, try small pieces of fresh-cut shrimp or switch to fiddler crabs.
Finally, night fishers on the pier are catching more bluefish then they care to keep. On certain nights, Medley reports, pier fishers are catching a bluefish on almost every cast. Live shrimp or a bucktail jig will get you in on this action.
Capt. Warren Girle was working inshore and offshore before the cold fronts. When temperatures are in the 80s, Girle is venturing out to nearshore structure to target grouper, then moving inshore.
For the offshore fishing, Girle is using live pinfish or shrimp depending on what he is targeting. Before the Feb 1 closure of grouper season, Girle was catching keeper-size red grouper on pinfish. Now the closure is in effect, Girle is using live shrimp to catch flounder, porgies and Key West grunts. Keeper gags are being caught although they must be released.
Moving inshore, Girle is drifting deeper flats in southern Sarasota Bay in search of pompano and the occasional permit. While targeting these species with jigs tipped with fresh-cut shrimp, Girle is catching bluefish, Spanish mackerel and ladyfish.
By fishing shallow flats, Girle is catching keeper-size redfish up to 26 inches. To find the reds, Girle is locating mullet schools, then casting Berkeley Gulp shrimp on a jighead right into the mullet. By doing this, he is catching the redfish that hunt among the mullet for small shrimp and crabs.
Steve Oldham at Island Discount Tackle is hearing of good action occurring from the beaches of Anna Maria Island. With a multitude of warm days and calm winds, beach fishing is becoming better and better. Beach fishers using pompano jigs or Berkley Gulp shrimp are catching a variety of species.
Those using pompano jigs are catching good numbers of bluefish and ladyfish as well as the occasional pompano. Also with these jigs, beach fishers are reeling up Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle and blue runners.
Beach fishers using Berkley Gulp shrimp on a jighead are taking home keeper-size flounder, as well as black drum, bluefish, ladyfish and even a few bonnethead sharks.
Finally, bait fishers on the beach are catching all of the above on live shrimp, either free-lined or fished on the bottom.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says fishing there was a little slow this past week but, as we all know, that can change in a moment’s notice.
Pier fishers with patience, determination and a little knowhow are catching black drum and sheepshead. When fishing gets tough, it’s time to try new tactics. When targeting black drum and sheepshead we know that shrimp works well, fiddler crabs and sand fleas work better and tubeworms work best.
Pier fishers in the know are going through the extra work to attain the better baits and in turn are the ones having success at putting dinner on the table.
Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters says fishing has been good with the weather and fish cooperating for most of the week. Redfish, black drum, pompano and spotted seatrout have been landed on his recent trips.
Spotted seatrout have been gathering in potholes on the flats, feeding on the moving tides. Many trout, are measuring up to 26 inches, have been chewing on a live shrimp rigged under a popping cork. The key is to make the bobber gurgle, Howard says. The sound will bring in the big predators and help to trigger a bite.
While fishing for spotted seatrout, the pompano have made an appearance in the area and are feeding on the popping cork-live shrimp combo.
Look for continued good spotted seatrout fishing, Howard says, as we move from our winter weather patterns to springtime.
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