Debbie Kleinberg shows off her 31-inch cobia, caught March 20 in Sarasota Bay using shrimp on a charter trip with Capt. Warren Girle — and quickly released.
Sam Merrill shows off a snook caught while fishing Anna Maria Island’s inshore waters on a visit to Holmes Beach from Rowayton, Conn. He reports his group caught and released loads of redfish and many snook — more than 30.
Spring break brings no break to AMI fishing frenzy
Spring break is upon us and with it comes some of the best fishing opportunities for our area.
Snook are migrating out of their wintertime haunts and are voraciously feeding on shiners and most any other bait that passes in front of their noses.
Redfish are on the prowl on shallow grass flats and around oyster bars. Gold spoons, Berkley Gulp shrimp, live shiners and shrimp are producing the bite.
Finally, spotted seatrout are abundant, especially on deep flats where sandy potholes are present. DOA Cal jigs are a top producer for these yellow-mouthed fish.
Now, although spring break signals some of the best weather and exceptional fishing, it can and will bring traffic on the water. A word of advice on the water is “patience.” Remember, the number of recreational activities in our local waters is increasing. While operating your vessel, keep a watchful eye for hazards on the water.
With local schools taking their break this week, the challenges will peak and the warriors will be out to play. Happy spring break — good fishing and safe boating.
Capt. Warren Girle is finding excellent fishing action in Sarasota Bay. By using different techniques, Girle is leading his clients to a number of inshore species.
To start, Girle is locating good numbers of pompano and even a few permit by drifting and jigging. Small jigs in either chartreuse or pink, tipped with a small piece of fresh-cut shrimp, are producing the bite. Mixed in with the pompano and permit are bluefish, Spanish mackerel and ladyfish. Limits of pompano are attainable. As for the permit, expect to catch fish up to 6 pounds.
Next on the agenda for Girle is redfish. By targeting shallow-water flats where sandy potholes are present, Girle is finding schools of reds. By moving from pothole to pothole, Girle is locating 10 to 15 fish per hole. By casting chunks of fresh-cut ladyfish, Girle’s clients are reeling in fish exceeding 33 inches.
Snook are being found on shallow flats, especially during the afternoon high tides. By free-lining live shiners for bait, Girle is hooking up with linesiders up to 28 inches.
Finally, spotted seatrout are readily responding to soft plastics combined with a 1/4-ounce jighead. By drifting deep grass flats, Girle is finding impressive numbers of fish ranging 14-20 inches. To find large trout — we call them gators — Girle is moving to shallower flats and jigging through the sandy potholes.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says Spanish mackerel in Tampa Bay are passing by to steal jigs and Gotcha plugs with frequency. With a mouth full of razor sharp teeth, these high-activity fish can cut through a fluorocarbon leader with no effort. That being said, if you try using a steel leader, you’ll never get a bite. Give a little, get a little, I say. Mackerel up to 24 inches are hitting jigs, spoons and Gotcha plugs, especially during morning tides.
Pier anglers are finding apompano sporadic — most being caught on either small jigs or live shrimp. Targeting these fish should be advantageous for the next few weeks. Try tipping your jigs with some fresh-cut shrimp. The added scent might be just what’s needed to entice the bite.
Finally, sheepies are starting to thin out, although keeper-sizes are still attainable. As the bite wanes, you need to start getting strategic with bait choices. Tubeworms — if you can get them — are always the first choice. If you don’t have tubeworms, try fiddlers or sand fleas. Shrimp are another good choice if all else fails. Keep an open mind and work the options.
Capt. Aaron Lowman at Island Discount Tackle is catching good numbers of snook by free-lining shiners on the shallow grass flats. Morning incoming tides are producing a decent bite, especially at the tail end of the tide. Afternoon outgoing tides are producing a slightly better bite, partly due to the water temp peaking. The afternoon tides are stronger, as of lately, which causes more water flow, which in theory produces a better bite.
While targeting snook, Lowman is catching a few redfish. Fish exceeding the max size of 27 inches are not uncommon. Live shiners and shrimp are producing the red bite.
Finally, Lowman is seeing the sheepshead bite dwindle, although his clients are still managing to put some keepers in the box. Mixed in with the remaining sheepies are mangrove snapper, Key West grunts and black sea bass.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is sliding right into the springtime fishing pattern for the popular trio of redfish, trout and, of course, snook. Keeper-sizes of all three species are being consistently caught on live shiners. Rigging for the shiners can be as simple as 4 feet of 20-pound fluorocarbon connected to a live bait. You can get sophisticated by adding a popping cork. It’s especially effective when fishing very shallow flats. Keeping a short leader under the cork is a good way to keep your bait from swimming into the grass, getting tangled and stuck.
For the snook, Gross is taking advantage of the afternoon outgoing tides to produce the bite. Snook of all sizes are responding to free-lined shiners. Also, Gross is finding water depths of 2-3 feet that have good flow are the hot spots.
Redfish are being caught around sandy potholes and oyster bars. During morning tides, Gross is quietly easing along the flats to sneak up on these wary redfish. Casting live shiners and select shrimp around oyster bars is producing slot-size and over-slot fish.
Lastly, spotted seatrout are being found around deeper flats where the current rushes over them. Free-lined shrimp and shiners are producing this bite. Expect to catch fish 15-20 inches with bigger fish mixed in.
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