Although the weather is beautiful and the waters are clear, fishing around Anna Maria Island is challenging.
Some blame it on the recent cold front, others blame it on the full moon. Well, whatever it is, a good catch was tough to come by in the past week.
That said, the weather pattern we are experiencing is encouraging. Temperatures in the mid-80s every day with lows in the high 60s at night is the perfect recipe to get the fish back in the mood to take the bait from our hooks.
Everyday I’m seeing the water temps creep up a degree or two and I’m seeing the bite improve as well.
On my own Southernaire charters, we are mainly targeting snook and spotted seatrout, and the outgoing tides seem to be producing the best action for both species. I’m finding many snook along mangrove shorelines with water depths of 2-3 feet.
Most of the fish are schooley-sized, ranging 20-26 inches. These fish provide great action, but don’t do much for those who want a fish dinner.
That’s where the spotted seatrout come into play. Fishing sandy potholes during outgoing tides is yielding some beautiful trout for my clients. Many fish 18-22 inches are being caught on free-lined shiners cast into the potholes. Limits of trout are attainable, but I’m moving from one pothole to the next to keep the bite going.
All in all, these tasty fish provide great action for visiting anglers and local fishers alike. And they give the angler the benefit of an afternoon on the water with a fine meal to follow.
Capt. Warren Girle is working offshore for a variety of species. Bottom fishing around reefs and other structures is proving to be good for mangrove snapper. A knocker rig combined with a live shiner on the bottom is resulting in mangos up to 16 inches. Fishing the surface with free-lined shiners also is attracting a bite from king and Spanish mackerel. They’re readily taking baits in water depths of 40-50 feet.
Moving inshore, Girle’s targeting spotted seatrout. Slot-size trout 15-20 inches are being caught with some regularity. Mixed in with the trout are macks, bluefish and jack crevalle. Snook are being caught inshore on the shallow flats of Sarasota Bay.
Capt. Aaron Lowman is fishing the flats of southern Tampa Bay, where live shiners free-lined or under a popping cork are resulting in numerous spotted seatrout. Mixed in with the trout are an occasional mackerel or jack crevalle.
But it’s snook fishing that’s keeping Lowman’s clients busy. Free-lined shiners during outgoing tides around mangrove shorelines are resulting in many snook 20-26 inches. The occasional slot fish is being caught and quickly put on ice.
Capt. Jason Stock is taking his anglers offshore for permit. Live pass crabs sight-cast to schooling permit are quickly being devoured, resulting in permit up to 30 pounds. King mackerel and blackfin tuna also are being caught while offshore. Live shiners, cigar minnows or threadfins are Stock’s baits of choice for these fish.
Moving inshore, Stock is targeting big snook on the flats. Live, free-lined shiners or pinfish are resulting in slot and over-slot fish. Redfish and flounder also are being found on the flats.
Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is patrolling the beaches of Anna Maria Island for king and Spanish mackerel. Long shank hooks combined with live shiners are resulting in numerous hookups with the voracious fish. Also along the beaches and passes, White is finding cooperative permit. Live free-lined crabs are White’s bait of choice to catch these elusive fish, although, when crabs aren’t available, White is confident in Doc’s Goofy jigs.
On the flats, spotted seatrout are dominating the bite for White. Live shiners under a popping cork are working well as bait. Big trout in the 20-plus inch range are coming to the hook from the deep grass areas.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is fishing the flats of southern Tampa Bay for snook, redfish and spotted seatrout. While targeting snook, Gross is casting free-lined shiners along the edges of mangrove shorelines during outgoing tides. Most catches in these areas are 20-26 inches. Bigger, slot-size snook are being found in the same areas, although they aren’t biting as frequently as the smaller fish.
For the reds, the same scenario applies. Pull up to an oyster bar and the picture is complete. Reds up to 30 inches are being caught in these areas.
For the spotted seatrout, Gross is working deep grass flats on the incoming tides. Live shiners under a Cajun Thunder cork are producing a bite. Slot fish — 15-20 inches — are the norm.
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