Larry Tuinstra, left, Bob Avery and Josh Ritchie, all from Bradenton, have their hands full with the big gag grouper they caught on a 14-hour trip with Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters.
|Who's eating who?
Conrad Dillon, left, from Palmetto, proudly shows off his big red grouper while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire, while Larry Tuinstra, of Bradenton, holds his 4-foot-long blacktip shark.
Sheepies still best bet inshore; grouper good in Gulf
Sheepshead are still the best backwater catch right now for Island anglers, with the striped monsters lurking near almost any structure in the bays. Weights are approaching 6 pounds, so now is the time for dusting off that fish chowder recipe you've been saving.
Offshore action for grouper and snapper in the Gulf of Mexico continues to be great.
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he's been putting his charters onto snook, trout and sheepshead and has found that fishing overall has vastly improved in the past week.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he's starting to see some whitebait, but it's spotty. On the fishing front, he's putting his customers onto big sheepshead, plus a few redfish are being caught near the docks.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said fishing has "busted wide open" in the past week. He's hearing of terrific catches of gag grouper, mangrove snapper and amberjack coming from offshore. Inshore action is all sheesphead, plus some snook and mangrove snapper.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina in Cortez saidthe past week's action "did not produce any notable catches, but perseverance paid off with a wide variety of species on several trips. Sheepshead was still the volume catch, followed by gray trout, but other species taken included snook, reds, pompano, bluefish, flounder, mangrove snapper, jack crevalle, speckled trout and huge ladyfish." He predicted that water temps could bump up to the 70-degree mark in the next week, "and things will begin popping big time. White bait usually begins making an appearance in mid-March and I've heard through the coconut telegraph that a few Spanish mackerel have been taken at the Skyway."
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said its all sheepshead all the time at the pier, with a few small grouper, whiting and a few little snook thrown into the mix.
Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said sheepshead action has really turned on there, plus some black drum, whiting and snook are being caught at night.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he's seeing "tons" of sheepshead coming in, as well as some snook and a few really big redfish coming from the Manatee River.
At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, reports include snook from the canals, sheepshead around almost every pier or dock, and good grouper and snapper action offshore.
At Skyway Bait and Tackle, reports include lots of sheepshead from near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, plus some black drum, small bonnethead sharks and a few grouper.
Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he's found fishing to be good offshore. "The most consistent action on our nine-hour charters has been the mangrove and yellowtail snapper," he said. "On most of our trips our clients have been catching their federal aggregate limit of 10 per person. On our longer charters, we caught some gag and red grouper to 25 pounds, along with amberjacks, blacktip sharks, margates, porgys and some triggerfish." He's fishing in up to 160 feet of water in the Gulf.
On my boat Magic, we're averaging 50 sheepshead on every trip out, plus a few hookups of black drum, mangrove snapper, big trout and small redfish.
Good luck and good Fishing.
Capt. Mike Heistand is a 20-year-plus fishing guide. Call him at 723-1107 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.