Kingfish run should explode any minute now
Anne Durr, of Illinois, caught this whopper snook while fishing with Capt. Mark Howard of Sumotime charters.
King mackerel should be moving through the offshore waters even as you read this. A few scouts have been hooked up in the Gulf of Mexico, harbingers of the full spring run to come. The trick is to get through the rough waters to catch the kings, or the amberjack and gag grouper near the artificial reefs.
Remember there are new rule and size limits on gag grouper this year. Check The Islander Web site for a detailed list, or ask the experts at any tackle shop.
Backwater fishing is good for snook, trout and redfish. There also are some scattered reports of pompano and flounder being caught, as well as sharks from the piers.
Capt. Mark Howard of Sumotime Charters said despite the winds, “The fishing has been fantastic, with some premium catches coming on for my charters. The trout bite has got hot on the moving tide, with many fish up to 22 inches landed. Redfish are in the mangroves and potholes. Snook have been on fire with many keeper-size fish being brought to the cleaning table.” He added that April is an excellent time to fish the Tampa Bay waters.
Danny Stasny at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said a few king mackerel have been caught recently, with the big run “just around the corner, but there’s nothing crazy just yet.” He advised trolling with plugs or live bait for the big king run. Winds have been blowing up seas to 5 feet offshore, but those willing to rough the seas are bringing back lots of gag grouper and amberjack from the artificial reefs in the Gulf. Backwater fishing is good for snook, with linesider catches coming near the mangroves on higher tides. Trout are also in the bays, with best action coming from artificial lures. There are also redfish and some sheepshead near the docks or pilings, and flounder are also being caught from the bays.
At the Rod & Reel Pier, reports include good catches of sheepshead and oversized snook, mostly at night. There was also a 4-foot-long bull shark caught at the pier last week.
At the Anna Maria City Pier, catches include mackerel and sheepshead, plus flounder and snook to 33 inches.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina said hopes were high for a break this spring weather wise, “But reasonable fishing days have been few and far between and it looks as if it’s going to get worse going into Easter week. The real kick in the rear is that conditions in the Gulf have been marginal for the small boater just when a long-awaited kingfish run is materializing.” He said if the weather turns cold as predicted, “it may stall the northward progress of the big macks and hold them in our area a while longer.” He’s finding inshore action to be steadily improving, “with pretty solid bites from snook, reds, trout, jacks, Spanish macks and scattered pompano. Redfishing has definitely improved with good numbers in the 17 to 29-inch size range. Some really big gator trout have been boated up to 26 inches.” Capt. Zach also is catching lots of smaller trout in the deeper seagrass beds along with the mackerel and pompano. “There seems to be better numbers of inshore gamefish holding in the areas north of the Anna Maria Island Bridge than there is south into Sarasota Bay,” he noted. On days when he can get out in the Gulf, he’s bringing back end-of-season sheepshead, Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper, grouper and a few hogfish.
Good luck and good fishing.
Fishing news and photos are welcome and may be submitted to Paul Roat by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.