Fishing: Good as it gets now
Matt Cox caught this nice-sized redfish while fishing with Capt. Wayne Johnson.
“Put off the household chores and go fishing,” Danny Stasny of Island Discount Tackle said. “It’s getting really good out there.”
Almost every species of fish in the waters off Anna Maria Island seems to be in a spring feeding frenzy right now and, with balmy days and mostly light breezes, the weather is finally cooperating with the fishing.
Inshore action is focusing on huge trout and redfish. Snook are big and really starting to hit well, as they always do just as the season closes, which was May 1.
Mackerel are off the beaches and in the Gulf of Mexico. Amberjack are around the reefs. Tons of kingfish are being caught near shore, with the big ones up to 15 miles out.
And there are reports of tarpon hookups, and although they are scattered, the fish hooked are big.
Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters said he caught some nice-sized snook before the closure, plus trout in the bays. “Trout have come on strong with many keepers caught over the deep seagrass of Anna Maria Sound,” he said, adding that sharks have moved into the bays.
Capt. Logan Bystrom said he hooked up several kingfish off the beach, and found snook to be plentiful. “We’ve been catching quite a few keeper and oversized snook alongside the deeper mangroves,” he said. “Redfish are on the flats holding up in potholes. All have been biting on shiners on good moving tides.” He said bait has been plentiful and easy to get.
Danny at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said “gator” trout are all over the deeper seagrass flats on outgoing tides, with Mirrolures working well. Catch-and-release snook have moved into the bays, and he suggested casting close to mangroves with shiners as bait, then when the linesiders come out of the roots to hit the bait, reel in fast. Tarpon also are off the beaches and in the passes, with few hookups so far, but lots more in the days ahead. Offshore, king mackerel are so thick that some fishers are complaining that they can’t drop a hook for another species without catching a king. There are also lots of mackerel and mangrove snapper on the nearshore reefs, cobia are starting to show up, and amberjack are all over the offshore reef systems.
At the Rod & Reel Pier, fishing is mostly for an occasional mackerel and snapper.
At the Anna Maria City Pier, reports include mackerel, jacks, catch-and-release snook and lots of dolphins — Flipper, not dinner — roaming around the pilings.
Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said fishing is great. “Our parties are catching big red and gag grouper, lots of monster mangrove snapper, amberjack, sharks, Spanish mackerel and all the kingfish you want to catch. For the kings, look for the birds working. No chumming or trolling necessary, just fish.” His king catches are anywhere from 3 to 16 miles in the Gulf, with live bait working the best. Deeper water is producing grouper, amberjack and snapper in 110 feet.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina saidwith cleaner and calmer Gulf waters, the king mackerel blitz is on. “All of my clients this week enjoyed some good kingfish action within yards of the beaches of Anna Maria and Longboat Key,” he said. “Most of the big macks ran up to around 36 inches, but one topped the scales at 30 pounds. Numerous jumbo Spanish mackerel and juvenile kings are mixed in, along with a few bonito.” Capt. Zach said that tarpon have arrived on the scene and should be in full swing within a couple of weeks. Cobia have been scarce both inshore and offshore, but based on reports he’s heard about the hot cobia action off Charlotte County, that condition could change any day.
Good luck and good fishing.
Fishing news and photos are welcome and may be submitted to Paul Roat by e-mail at email@example.com.