Spring fishing starts to spring forward
|Matt Whitenack, 16, caught this large permit on his summer vacation while fishing with Capt.Larry McGuire of Show Me the Fish Charters offshore of Anna Maria Island.
Fishing is slowly improving, both in the bays and in the Gulf of Mexico.
Backwater anglers report good catches of redfish and catch-and-release snook, although trout are problematic as a good catch.
Offshore action for grouper and snapper remains excellent. For those willing to go a bit farther from shore, the catches of tuna, amberjack and wahoo are also excellent as spring fishing continues.
And congratulations to Capt. Chris Galati and Team Galati for winning the Big Four Billfish Invitational fishing tournament out of Treasure Cay in the Bahamas last week. They caught three blue marlin aboard their 52-foot Viking in the catch-and-release tourney. Capt. Chris had so much fun that he and his team went back to the islands for more fun and fishing, and more information about the tourney should be forthcoming next week.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said fishing is improving, with backwater catches of big redfish, mackerel and flounder. Offshore anglers are doing well with grouper and snapper, and, Lowman said, farther out in the Gulf the catches of tuna, dolphin and wahoo are really starting to pick up.
Tom Cassitty at the Rod & Reel Pier said anglers there are catching snapper, catch-and-release snook to 33 inches, mackerel, redfish and sheepshead.
Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said action there includes mackerel, catch-and-release snook and sheepshead.
At Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez, Capt. Mark Johnson said his backwater charters are catching big redfish, small catch-and-release snook and mangrove snapper. Capt. Sam Kimball, also out of Annie's, said his offshore trips are bringing in lots of grouper, banded rudderfish and snapper.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he's hearing reports of lots of reds coming out of the Manatee River, plus snapper and snook from Terra Ceia Bay. There are also some trout to 18 inches and lots of small sharks being caught.
At Skyway Bait and Tackle, reports include redfish from around Joe's Island and Miguel Bay, but trout action is sparse.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina saidthat "summer has finally settled in, with the onset of afternoon thunderstorms. The important factor is that the barometer will be high in the morning, but once the heating of the day sets in, the barometer will start to be erratic and that is what drives the fish crazy." He said "the past week has produced some top-notch action with backwater species such as sea trout, snook, redfish and jack crevalle. A variety of bait types have been producing with the sometimes-finicky fish. Live shrimp, whitebait, crabs and small pinfish have all contributed to some really good action on both the incoming and outgoing tides." He said that Tampa Bay has still been "giving up some great Spanish mackerel, trout around the grassy edges, and numerous sharks wherever there is a concentration of large bait." Tarpon action is slow, but he predicts it will heat up in the next few weeks.
On my boat Magic, we've been catching reds to 30 inches, some nice-size flounder and catch-and-release snook to 27 inches.
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 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.