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Date of Issue: April 22, 2009

Kings out there, but wind keeps most fishers in bays

Fishing pic
King-size king mackerel
Dave MacDougall from Milton, Wis., caught this nice-sized kingfish, as well as grouper and snapper, on a trip offshore with Capt. Larry McGuire. The fish were caught in about 50 feet of water on live pinfish.
Fishing pic
It's a tough job
Danny Stasny of Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach wet a line off the dock outside the door of the shop in the city basin and reeled in a whopper snook and released it - last week. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy

It’s all about that pesky wind when it comes to fishing. As one captain put it this week, “Would somebody please turn off the wind machine?”

High winds translate to high seas and the result out in the Gulf of Mexico is a boat that’s rocking and rolling. For folks willing to risk a case of the “urks,” there are kingfish to be caught, as well as lots of amberjack and grouper from the artificial reef systems.

Backwater fishing features lots of snook, trout and some redfish. There also are flounder and mackerel coming out of the piers in the passes, as well as late-season sheepshead.

Mark your calendar for May 9 for the 23rd Annual Kids Free Fishing Tournament at the Green Bridge Pier in Palmetto. This is a catch-and-release tournament open to all kids between ages 7 and 14, with sponsorship from Manatee-Sarasota Fish & Game Association, Palmetto and Bradenton Kiwanis clubs, as well as the City of Palmetto Parks and Recreation Department.

Registration starts at 7 a.m. and all kids must be accompanied by an adult. Youthful fishers should have their own rod and reel, but equipment is available if needed. Bait, hooks and sinkers are provided and prizes will be awarded for the first three places in each age group. Palmetto Kiwanis volunteers will be serving free hot dogs for lunch. To volunteer or support the tourney, call 941-794-2806.

Capt. Mark Howard of Sumotime Charters said that fishing around Anna Maria for his charters has been good, with nice catches of trout and redfish. “Redfish and snook have been tight to the mangroves,” he noted, “and chumming with shiners will draw them in.” He’s finding trout “just about everywhere,” and Spanish mackerel are in 8 feet of water “and eating ferociously.”

Danny Stasny at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said the snook bite “is really strong right now. Some fishers have reported catching fish to 40 inches.” Trout also are a good bet in the backwater, with the best action coming from the deeper seagrass beds. Redfish are also around, but spotty. Offshore, there seem to be kingfish, most in the school-size range, 15 to 20 miles out in the Gulf. They should move closer as the spring run really starts, he said, suggesting trolling with planers as the best plan of attack. Amberjack continue to be thick around artificial reefs in the Gulf, Danny added. 

At the Rod & Reel Pier, reports include a few flounder landings, plus Spanish mackerel, pompano, snook and whiting.

Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said action at the pier continues to feature sheepshead. Mackerel are starting to show up, as well as snook. One fisher caught a 36-inch linesider last week — “a throwback,” Jesus said, since it was too big to keep other than for a picture. He said anglers are starting to see some cobia, and everyone is waiting for mangrove snapper to start to bite.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said snook fishing for him remains the hot ticket. “There are plenty of large snook being caught up the Manatee River and around Terra Ceia,” he said, “and redfish are scattered and hitting on pinfish in Miguel Bay.” He added that he’s finding trout action to be excellent on the good-moving tides on the deep seagrass beds near Rattlesnake Key.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he’s found that fishing turned on after the wind calmed. “We are catching lots of gag and red grouper, mangrove and yellowtail snapper, lots of big sharks, Spanish mackerel and kingfish hookups on most trips,” Capt. Larry said. “The kingfish are coming in stronger every day, with our main run probably running weeks or even a month later due to the windy weather. Our best action for kings has been out in 50- to 70-feet of water, using a variety of live baits.” He added that grouper and snapper catches are better at the 100-foot depths.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina saidit’s all about the wind. “Above-normal winds coupled with dirty water in the nearshore Gulf have kept the Dee Jay II from plying the Gulf for several weeks,” he lamented. “On the bright side,” Capt. Zach said, “inshore action has been good. A party of three from Wisconsin nailed a good number of above-average trout along with chunky bluefish, mackerel and ladyfish. Broken grassy areas in about 4 feet of water in northern Sarasota Bay produced best.” He added that there was some excitement later in the week when a fisher from Valrico hooked up “with an easily 100-pound-plus tarpon on trout tackle in 5 feet of water. Much to our amazement, he had the big tarpon on for 10-12 jumps before the light line parted.”

Good luck and good fishing.

Fishing news and photos are welcome and may be submitted to Paul Roat by e-mail at paul@islander.org.

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