Despite winds, fishing action remains hot
Fishing around Anna Maria Island remains productive despite strong winds from the east this past weekend.
Tarpon are moving steadily along the beaches waiting to be swarmed, while some 20 boats or more at a time are looking in the same general areas for a hookup. Don’t expect those fish to bite. Catches around the passes and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge are being reported. Pass crabs, blue crabs, threadfin herring, shiners and pinfish are producing bites.
On the flats, spotted seatrout are in good numbers. Live shiners are proving lucrative, although a small pinfish under a cork is hard for them to resist, too. For the fishers who prefer artificials, try topwater plugs in the early morning and switch to soft plastics when the sun gets up higher in the sky.
Capt. Warren Girle is targeting tarpon. Whether fishing just off the beaches, in the passes or at the “big bridge,” Girle is managing to get his clients connected with a silver king.
Girle’s preferred baits are pass crabs and small blue crabs although threadfin herring are working in certain situations.
Average size of Girle’s tarpon catches this past week is 80-100 pounds with the largest around 160 pounds.
In between tarpon, Girle is fishing the backcountry of Sarasota Bay. Catch-and-release snook as well as slot-size redfish are being caught on live shiners. By anchoring and chumming, Girle is luring prey within casting range of the boat.
Finally, on an adventure to offshore waters, Girle found success with mangrove snapper, permit and amberjack. For the mangoes and AJ’s Girle is using live shiners. “For the permit, you can’t beat a crab,” says Girle.
Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier says Spanish mackerel are being there in the early mornings. Pier fishers using white jigs, Gotcha plugs or Clark spoons are taking home dinner. Expect to catch macks in the 15- to 20-inch range with a few larger fish in the mix. Also cooperating are jack crevalle, ladyfish, blue runners and small shark. For the shark, a piece of fresh-cut jack crevalle or ladyfish will get you hooked up.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel says fishing is getting better as the water warms and bait fish arrive in quantities. Pier fishers are reeling up a variety of species using a variety of baits.
In the morning, Spanish mackerel are being caught. Pier fishers using white speck rigs are catching macks in the range of 15 inches. Expect to hook into blue runners, ladyfish, jack crevalle and, if you’re lucky, a stray pompano while targeting macks with jigs.
From under and around the pilings of the pier, fishers are reeling up black drum, flounder and snapper. Live shrimp are the bait of choice, although small live shiners will do the job.
Finally, over-slot redfish and catch-and-release snook are rounding out the bite. Pier fishers using stout gear and a little skill are managing to land big reds and a few whopper snook at night. Live pinfish or ladyfish are working for the snook. For the reds, pinfish or small blue crabs will get you connected.
Johnny Mattay at Island Discount Tackle says to look for hungry catch-and-release snook around the passes and piers at night. Mattay is using a variety of baits, including live shiners, pinfish and ladyfish, to hook the oversized fish. Mattay suggests using stout gear, too. Mattay is catching snook up to 37 inches at night.
From the flats, Mattay says spotted seatrout are the main attraction. For live bait, shrimp or shiners will work. For artificials, try a topwater plug at either sunrise or sunset for an explosive surprise.
Finally, tarpon reports are coming in to the marina daily. Fish are being spotted around the passes and on the beaches. Pass crabs, blue crabs, shiners, threadfin herring or pinfish are producing a bite, catches up to 150 pounds are being reported.
Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime fishing charters says fishing has been mostly steady, but he’s seeing some red-hot action in the mix. Spotted seatrout, redfish and catch-and-release snook have been feeding when the current is moving.
Spotted seatrout have been the go-to fish for both some fillets for the dinner table and exciting action on the flats in Tampa Bay, says Howard. He also saw plenty of gator trout landed in the past week. “A lively shiner rigged on a 1/0 hook with 30-pound fluorocarbon leader under a popping cork has drawn many of these snaggle-toothed predators to the boat. Make the old school bobbers pop and gurgle and the bait to flash to draw the strikes,” says Howard.
Redfish have been making appearances in smaller schools, and cruising the edges of flats and hiding in potholes. Chumming with shiners will draw strikes from these copper-bellied bruisers and fire up the bite. Howard suggests following the fish into the bushes as the tide works towards high water and, conversely, as the tide drops. The fish often stage on the drop offs of the flats.
Catch-and-release snook have been cooperating off the beaches and close to passes as they spawned on the full moon on May 24. Look for the snook to be in pods just off the beach shoreline in the first trough, Howard says.
Looking forward, the tide will be high in the early afternoons next week and should provide for some excellent fishing, Howard predicts. Tarpon are making a strong showing off the beaches and in Tampa Bay. “Look for the tarpon bite to explode in the coming weeks as more of the schools of silver kings invade our waters,” Howard says.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters also is fishing tarpon this week. By using crabs, threadfin herring or shiners for bait, Gross is connecting his clients to 150 pounds of silver fury. Average size this past week was 80-150 pounds.
In the backcountry, Gross is catching slot and over-slot size catch-and-release snook on live shiners. Gross is using a No. 1 bait hook tied to a few feet of 20-pound fluorocarbon leader to target these feisty linesiders. By anchoring and chumming, Gross is keeping the fish occupied while his clients cast their baits.
Finally, spotted seatrout are on the Fishy Business menu. Gross is putting clients on slot-size trout on shiners free-lined behind the boat. Fish up to 24 inches are being caught, although, he says, most are in the slot of 15-20 inches.
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