It’s all about the air-water temperature for area anglers
As water temps heat up, it’s also time to beat the heat.
For flats fishers, it’s advantageous to try fishing early morning tides or late evening tides. By now, you can usually see outside before daybreak around 5:30 a.m. This twilight time is the perfect opportunity to target flats species before the water temps climb too high. The same applies in the evening, from 7 p.m. until dark. A good moving tide combined with cooler water temps should equate to fish on the hook.
Tarpon are finally arriving back along our beaches after a small hiatus for Tropical Storm Andrea. I think they went offshore — at least to deeper water, right? Sightings are occurring from Longboat to Egmont keys, although catches are not as frequent as sightings. The fish being caught are biting on crabs or shiners and are in the 50 to 120 pounds.
Capt. Warren Girle is fishing for offshore species on ledges and hard bottom with good results. Using live shiners or live pinfish for bait, Girle is reeling up more keeper-size red grouper, Key West grunts and keeper gags than you can shake a stick at. On a flat line with large live shiners, Girle is catching King mackerel up to 15 pounds.
Moving near shore, Girle is targeting tarpon along the beaches and passes. For bait, Girle is carrying shiners, threadfins and small crabs. The size of the tarpon on hookups this past week was 70-180 pounds.
Finally, on the flats, Girle is getting good action on catch-and-release snook. Live shiners free-lined to spotted fish are getting the job done. Along with snook, Girle is catching spotted seatrout and redfish during early morning and late evening tides.
Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier is seeing Spanish mackerel being caught on artificials like silver spoons, Gotcha plugs or white jigs. Sork suggests fishing early mornings or evenings to get in on the mackerel bite. While targeting macks, expect to catch jack crevalle, ladyfish and blue runners.
Pier fishers arriving at dusk are gearing up for an evening of shark fishing. By using oily baits, such as fresh-cut mackerel or bonito, pier fishers are tying into blacktip and sandbar sharks. Average size is 40-140 pounds.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel says fishing is improving after Tropical Storm Andrea. With water quality back to normal, the fish are responding to live shrimp or shiners. If you choose to use artificials, try using a small white jig or Gotcha plug.
Bait fishers at the pier are catching mangrove snapper, black drum, flounder and catch-and-release snook. For the drum, live shrimp are the bait of choice. Cast a weighted shrimp under the pier for the drum and you may end up hooking a flounder, too. For the snook and snapper, live shiners are producing the bite.
Pier fishers using artificials likes jigs and Gotcha plugs are being rewarded with Spanish mackerel, as well as jack crevalle and ladyfish. Again, to target macks, fish either early in the morning or late in the evening.
Johnny Mattay at Island Discount Tackle is fishing offshore with his grandpa, Bill Grayson, with excellent results. Keeper red grouper up to 30 inches are being reeled up on live shiners or live pinfish. “We limited out in one hour for four people,” exclaims Mattay. “There’s a lot of red grouper out there right now.”
Along with red grouper, Mattay is catching mangrove snapper up to 16 inches.
While at the tackle shop, Mattay says most fishers are gearing up for tarpon fishing. For hooks, 5/0 and 6/0 circle hooks are flying off the shelves, as well as fluorocarbon leader in the 50- to 80-pound class. For baits, tarpon fishers are buying pass crabs and blue crabs, as well as frozen shad.
On a final note, Mattay adds that nighttime snook fishing around piers and passes is heating up. “Use big baits if you want to catch big fish,” says Mattay. Assorted baits such as shiners, threadfins and even small ladyfish are producing bites.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is fishing the flats of Sarasota Bay producing a good bite on spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook. Gross is anchoring early mornings over shallow grass flats during moving tides. By chumming with live shiners, Gross is luring fish to the baits as his clients cast to them. For rigging, Gross likes to keep it simple: 3-4 feet of 20-pound fluorocarbon connected to a No. 1 live bait hook completes the rig; Simple, but effective.
Gross also likes to take his clients to target tarpon, in both the passes and along the beaches. For bait, Gross is using live shiners or crabs, which is resulting in silver kings estimated to be 80-100 pounds.
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