Fishing outlook only looking better as weather warms
Now that's a sheepshead
Russ Frangella of Holmes Beach caught this whopper of a sheepshead off a dock in Key Royale. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy
Click on image to enlarge
Fishing is finally starting to improve!
Sheepshead season should be at its peak for the next few weeks, and the striped critters are fat and plentiful right now.
Snook are starting to finally show up in some numbers, and mackerel are moving through the area near the piers and passes.
Snapper action offshore is excellent right now, and grouper fishing is anywhere from "fair" to "great."
Whitebait is plentiful near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay, too.
Lee Gause at Perico Harbor Bait & Tackle said wade fishers are catching redfish in the potholes in the bays, plus lots of small snook in the backwater, but no keepers as yet. There are also lots of keeper-size trout being brought in up to 20 inches in length.
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he's getting into some snook from 21 to 30 inches, all caught on artificial bait.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said some pompano are starting to show up along the beaches, plus whiting. Snook action is improving by the day as spring weather improves. Offshore action for snapper remains excellent, with some hookups to 5 pounds being reported. Grouper fishing remains fair to excellent, with some 25-pounders being caught out in the Gulf.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he's seeing lots and lots of sheepshead being brought to the dock, plus black drum from the Manatee River. Snook are starting to make a showing as well, he said, and there is still lots of whitebait near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he put his charters onto lots of mackerel last week, with the best action coming from near Egmont Key. He added that the new artificial reef off the key is starting to really produce, with some sheepshead from the site tipping the scales at better than 5 pounds .
Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said he's been putting his clients onto mackerel, sheepshead, trout, plus some slot-limit redfish. He's also seeing more and more snook showing up.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said fishing has greatly improved there in the past few days, with good catches of mackerel on most days, lots of sheepshead and some redfish, bluefish and pompano.
Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said sheepshead are "No. 1" on the pier hit parade, with some mackerel, pompano and flounder also caught. He predicts fishing to improve as the water starts to warm in the next few days.
On my boat Magic, we are finding that whitebait is pretty thick near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Sheepshead are still our best bet right now, with limit catches most days, plus lots of small redfish to 24 inches.
Good luck and good fishing.
Capt. Mike Heistand is a 20-year fishing guide. Call him at 779-9607 to provide a fishing report. Prints and digital images of your catch are also welcome and may be dropped off at The Islander, 5404 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, or e-mailed to email@example.com. Please include identification for persons in the picture along with information on the catch and a name and phone number for more information. Snapshots may be retrieved once they appear in the paper.