Snook season ends with a bang, snapper still thick offshore
Tim Self, 18, of Swartz Creek, Mich., caught this mackerel while fishing with his uncle, Capt. Keith Barnett, aboard the "Bubba Too."
Click on image to enlarge
Snook season has ended on a stellar note, with reports coming in that linesider action was better this year than in recent memory.
Best bets now for backwater anglers appear to be trout and redfish. Mackerel are still roaming off the beaches, and snapper fishing is good farther offshore.
And don't forget the 18th Annual Kids Free Fishing Tournament Saturday, May 8, at the Green Bridge Pier in Palmetto.
All children from the ages of 7 to 14 are eligible to fish. Entry is free and there is no charge for food and snacks. Bait, hooks and sinkers are provided for fishing, but all kids must have their own rods, although organizers have said that under "unique circumstances" loaner tackle will be available. An adult must accompany children.
Prizes will be awarded for the first three places in each age group, along with lots of raffle prizes, although you must be present to win. Registration starts at 7 a.m., the tournament runs from 8-10 a.m., lunch will start at 10 a.m., and awards presented from 10:45-11:30 a.m.
For more information, call 794-2806.
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he put his charters onto some snook to 27 inches, redfish to 26 inches, trout to 20 inches and some huge yellowtail jacks in Terra Ceia Bay.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said kingfish are out in the Gulf for those who really want to hunt for them. Mackerel are pretty thick by the nearshore artificial reefs, he said, and some permit have been reported. Snook season ended on a banner note, with some of the best catches reported in years.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said anglers there are catching lots of mackerel, some keeper-size snook before the season ended May 1, a few redfish and big yellowtail jacks.
Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said some big snook were caught late last week before the season ended, plus a few mackerel, some small flounder and snapper.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said there are lots of black drum in the cut, trout in Terra Ceia Bay, plus black drum and snapper by the old railroad bridge in the Manatee River.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he's still catching nice catch-and-release snook, plus plenty of trout.
At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, reports included good catches of redfish and trout by the wade fishers on the seagrass flats by the marina, with boaters bringing back lots of mackerel and a few cobia.
Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said he targeted snook, redfish and trout last week, all with good results.
Capt. Matt Denham out of Catchers said he was able to make a few trips out into the Gulf last week and did well with red grouper to 25 pounds, gags to 20 pounds, as well as mangrove, lane and yellowtail snapper.
Capt. Sam Kimball on Legend charters out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said grouper action has slowed a bit, but snapper are still hot. He's also put his charters onto a few kingfish and some tuna.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's said he's finding nearshore fishing to be disappointing, with only a few mackerel and kingfish. In the backwater the picture looks better, though, with good catches of snook and redfish.
On my boat Magic, we caught lots of snook in the 25- to 30-inch range until the close of the season, plus redfish to 27 inches and trout to 24 inches.
Good luck and good fishing.
Capt. Mike Heistand is a 20-year fishing guide. Call him at 779-9607 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.