Pleasant fall weather promises all-around good fishing

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Tom Hooker of Tampa shows off a bluefish caught Nov. 25. The fish, caught on a fly, crushed the topwater popper. Hooker was guided by Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters.
Roger Danziger shows off his catch at the dock from a day’s fishing, an African pompano and 30-inch gag grouper caught Dec. 2 while fishing 38 miles off Holmes Beach in 128 feet of water.

Fishing around Anna Maria Island is as pleasant as the weather.

With a light easterly breeze and calm seas, both inshore and offshore adventures are promising. Fishing inshore around the bays and Manatee River is providing good action on spotted seatrout and snook. Redfish — especially around docks and canals — are plentiful. Live bait such as shiners and shrimp — both readily available — are getting the most attention, although lead-head jigs combined with soft plastics also are producing.

Moving offshore, gag grouper are being found around the artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico, where Spanish mackerel, kingfish and bonito also are present. Moving out to about 7 miles, around reefs and ledges, is resulting in action on blackfin tuna, cobia and amberjack.

On my Southernaire charters, I’m finding decent action on redfish around bayfront docks and in the canals. Casting select shrimp under the docks is yielding redfish up to 22 inches. Black drum, flounder and sheepshead also are being taken in this fashion.

On warm days, fishing the flats for trout and snook is resulting in good action. Most snook being caught are just under slot. As for the trout, slot-size and under-slot fish are mixed together. While targeting the trout, I’m also seeing bluefish, jacks and mackerel on the hook.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says fishers using shrimp as bait are hooking into a variety of species. Combining the shrimp with a bottom rig and casting it under the pier deck is attracting redfish, black drum and even a few early-season sheepshead.

Simply free-lining shrimp and casting them out from the pier is resulting in catches of jack crevalle, ladyfish and an occasional pompano.

Lastly, using live pinfish and shiners as bait is a good bet for targeting snook, and Malfese says keeper fish are being caught.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is following the snook bite as it moves from the beaches and passes to the back bays and rivers and casting live shiners among these fish is triggering a response for his clients. Spotted seatrout are being caught in the bays and rivers on both live shiners and artificials, such as the DOA shrimp. In the deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Lowman is seeing a variety of species, including tripletail, hogfish, gag grouper and mangrove snapper.

Capt. Warren Girle is working the nearshore structure with good results. By using live bait — pinfish and shiners — Girle’s clients are attracting keeper-size gag grouper to the hook. Also around structure, Girle’s clients are hooking into macks and a few kingfish.

On the flats, snook, redfish and spotted seatrout are being taken on live shiners and artificials, such as soft plastics on a jig head. While targeting the trout, Girle also is hooking clients up with bluefish and macks.

Capt. Jason Stock is taking advantage of the light breezes from the east and venturing offshore. Fishing around the wrecks in the Gulf is providing good action on kingfish, blackfin tuna, amberjack and cobia. Fishing around ledges and reefs is producing bent rods — especially on gag grouper and some big mangrove snapper.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is finding good action inshore on windy days by fishing canals and docks. Black drum and sheepshead are dominating this bite. Pompano also are being found inshore on deeper grass flats. Jigs tipped with shrimp are the key to success, says White. On the warmer days, White is putting clients on some good snook action, as well as a few redfish and spotted seatrout on the flats. Moving into the Gulf, the reefs and wrecks are proving to be good for gag grouper and kingfish on White’s charter trips.

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