Sarah Howard caught this 6-pound sheepshead with Dad Capt. Mark Howard aboard his boat Sumotime Fishing.
Kings start spring run offshore, sheepies still thick inshore
Kingfish have finally started their annual spring run in the Gulf of Mexico, with reports of 25-pounders being caught about 6 miles out. Other offshore action continues with good catches of grouper and snapper.
In the backwaters, sheepshead continue to dominate the fishing report. There are lots of big, hungry fish near almost any structure, beit pier, dock or artificial reef.
Snook and redfish action is also good inshore, as well as some nice-sized trout.
Special kudos to Capt. Wayne Genthner of Wolfmouth Charters on Longboat Key, who will receive special recognition later this month for his efforts to alert the scientific community of the "dead zone" off Southwest Florida, an area that was the victim of the year-long red tide that plaqued us through 2005. He will receive a personal initiative award from the Sarasota County Conservation Committee April 18. Good job, Captain - it's just a shame you had to receive the award for bringing us such bad news!
Capt. Genthner said he and his charters "had a fantastic fishing week with permit, pompano, redfish, bluefish, smoker kings, dozens of sheepshead, porgies and keeper snook all caught in north Sarasota Bay near Bradenton beach. The permit and pompano were slamming yellow jigs in the surf and wash lines, the snook and redfish were taken at night using free-lined shrimp, and the kings and blues nailed free-lined pinfish and cigar minnows. All in all, it's just great spring fishing for folks who want to have a good time on the water."
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina in Cortez saidthe week "started out great guns, when Bob Freeman and Dick Fluke scored well on snook ranging in size to 31 inches. The middle of the week was pretty funky, with lousy tides and squirrely bait situations. The weeks' end improved, though, when the bait got better along with the tides." Capt. Zach said he took Rick and Matt Fuchs, guests at the Bali Hai Resort in Holmes Beach, out to nail a number of snook ranging in size to 32 inches, plus redfish.
Capt. Tom Chaya he's putting his charters onto kingfish, large Spanish mackerel and bonita following bait schools just offshore. "A few blacktip sharks were also working them," he said, "and on the inshore scene there still is excellent snook action and plenty of nice reds hitting in the mangroves."
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said with the return of whitebait the snook and redfish action has really picked up in the backwaters. Sheepshead are also still hungry and big and coming on strong around almost any structure in the bay. For offshore fishers, the big word is kingfish, with some reports coming from as close as 6 miles from shore of 25-pound monsters. Farther out in the Gulf, look for continued excellent catches of grouper and snapper.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said there are still lots of sheepshead catches coming onto the dock, plus some pompano, jacks and snook. There is also a lot of bait working around the pier, he added.
Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said sheepshead are still the No. 1 catch at the pier. Some anglers are also catching small snook at night and whiting during the day.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he's hearing good reports of snook coming out of Terra Ceia Bay and Miguel Bay, plus lots of sheepies from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge area and some redfish from Terra Ceia Bay.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he's putting his clients onto kingfish from the Gulf on some days, and snook from the backwaters - it just depends on tides. He is bringing back limit catches of redfish on almost every trip, though.
At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, reports include sheepshead, and some legal-sized trout and redfish from Palma Sola Bay, with the best action coming at the higher tides.
At Skyway Bait and Tackle, reports include some small bonnethead sharks and a few legal-sized grouper near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, plus lots of sheepshead.
On my boat Magic, we're catching redfish on most trips out, tons of yellowtail jacks, a few nice-sized trout and lots of sheepshead.
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.