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Date of Issue: April 23, 2008

Flounder start to show, both big, big-time

Fishing pic
Nick Wyatt of Anna Maria caught this pair of "smoker" kingfish while trolling with a rod and reel in his kayak off the Manatee Public Beach shore.

Flounder catches are usually more abundant during the summer and fall fishery, but anglers are catching big flatties this spring.

I put a charter onto a 21-inch flounder last week, the biggest I’ve seen in at least five years.

Other inshore action includes lots of redfish, trout and snook, but everything is a little small.

The weather has kept offshore fishers close to port, but those that were able to get offshore did well with grouper and snapper.

Capt. Mark Howard of Sumotime Fishing Charters said the cold front last week “threw a wrench in fishing. As we get warmer, snook, redfish and trout should move up into the shallow water.” He said that fishing should be good this week, with big tides, and he expects big catches of trout and flounder.

Capt. Sam Kimball out of Annie’s Bait and Tackle in Cortez said the weather kept him in the backwaters, but he put his charters onto big trout, redfish and flounder.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach echoed the reports of offshore fishing: not very good. Inshore angling was good for big trout, though, plus redfish everywhere, but small. Reds are running 18 to 23 inches in size, Bill said, adding that there are also a few sheepies remains, plus some big flounder to be caught.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said he’s seeing “tons of bait” around the pier. There are lots of blue runners being caught, plus mackerel, jack and small snook, as well as some lingering sheepshead. The cold front chilled fishing last week, he added, but he expected things to pick up this week.

Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said anglers there have been catching mackerel, sheepshead, mangrove snapper and some snook at night.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he’s hearing good reports of snook coming in, plus lots of mangrove snapper from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge area in Tampa Bay.

At Tropic Isles Marina, reports are of small redfish and a few trout from Terra Ceia and Miguel bays.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he’s been putting his charters onto lots of snook, plus redfish and trout.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he’s finding fishing to be great offshore of Anna Maria Island. “After a week of windy weather, it calmed down and the fishing was on once again,” he said. “We are catching red grouper, gag grouper, scamp, lots of snapper, big permit, sharks, barracuda, amberjack, porgys, triggerfish, kingfish and Spanish mackerel. A highlight of the week came on April 12, when my 15-year-old cousin Thomas caught his first kingfish, a 55-pounder, off Egmont Key. The kicker to this story is that the fish was caught during a kingfish tournament, and Thomas would have won had he been entered in the competition.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina saidthe cold front and a drop in water temperatures made both bait netting and fish catching a real dicey affair compared to the pretty hot action before the front. “After the Gulf calmed down post-front, my charters had limited action with Spanish mackerel, bluefish and cobia. The big catch was numerous gag grouper on just about every piece of hard bottom.” While Capt. Zach’s inshore action suffered from the cold, he managed to struggle a few reds, trout and snook to the boat. Top catches went to Chuck Shuler of Michigan, who landed a 27-inch trout Friday, and Gary Shugart of Pennsylvania, who bested a 30-inch snook Saturday.

On my boat Magic, we’ve been catching redfish to 23 inches, trout to 23 inches and a whopper 21-inch flounder.

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 news@islander.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.

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