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Date of Issue: June 30, 2005

Fishing
Just another day in paradise
Recently we spent a night in paradise off Anna Maria Island in 160 feet of water. Buzzy Roak, left, Tony Gilstrap and John Birge, all from Holmes Beach, spent a night off Anna Maria Island in about 160 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico and had "a spectacular time fishing the full moon." Roak caught a 60-plus-pound warsaw grouper on light tackle, Gilstrap caught red and mangrove snapper and Birge reeled in a 40-pound amberjack
Click on image to enlarge
Decent dolphin
Skip Shipley, of Bradenton, caught a big dolphin while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire in the Gulf.
Click on image to enlarge

Fishing slows, but trout, grouper, snapper still biting

Fishing has been slow of late - the usual summertime doldrums coupled with the red tide outbreak have kept the fish from biting as usual.

However, offshore action for grouper and snapper remains good, with an occasional hookup of a dolphin or wahoo.

Backwater action for trout, redfish and a few flounder is also fair, and the inshore mangrove snapper catch is getting better and better each day.

By the way, congratulations to the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, which celebrated 66 years of operation June 23. The Guard was established as the Coast Guard Reserve in 1939, and renamed in 1941. It has performed vessel checks, offered instruction on boating laws and navigation, and aided the U.S. Coast Guard in rescues.

Since December 2001, the Coast Guard Auxiliary all-volunteer force has provided 13 million hours of service to boaters nationwide. Good going, and thanks!

Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he was able to get out a couple of days last week and caught catch-and-release snook, plus a few redfish and a 21-inch-long flounder.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said offshore fishing is good when you can get out, with grouper and snapper on the bottom and pelagic species such as dolphin and wahoo showing up in greater numbers every day. There are a few permit caught off the offshore reefs, and bay anglers are catching redfish and trout.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said fishing has picked up a bit, with good catches of mackerel, redfish and snapper. The pier anglers are also starting to catch more pompano.

Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier said fishing is fair there, too, with mackerel on the right tides, a few flounder, small sharks, black drum and mangrove snapper starting to show up on the end of fishers' lines.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said there are lots of trout coming to the docks, caught by boaters fishing by Joe's Island. Snapper are pretty thick near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, he added, and there was one cobia caught last week that he saw.

At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, reports are that boaters are catching sharks and mackerel in Tampa Bay, plus redfish near the Perico Island shoreline. Wade fishers are getting trout on the seagrass beds in front of Palma Sola Bay near the Intracoastal Waterway.

Capt. Larry McGuire on Show Me The Fish Charters said that he believes the red tide has dissipated. "We have not seen any red in the water on the way out to the fishing spots," Capt. Larry said, adding that "the fish kills we've seen are about a week to a week and a half old. Fishing has been excellent out in the Gulf this past week. Our clients have been fishing in about 110 feet of water, using frozen Spanish sardines and a variety of live baits, and have been catching 35-pound kingfish, large red and gag grouper, mangrove snapper to 7 pounds, plus cobia, mackerel, sharks to 8 feet and lots of school dolphin."

At Skyway Bait and Tackle, reports include redfish coming from Terra Ceia Bay on higher tides near the onshore mangroves. There are also snapper being caught off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge artificial reef systems, and mackerel from the pier, with the best mackerel action coming in the mornings.

Capt. Ray Markham on the Flat Back said that red tide caused him to run north into Tampa Bay, since "from north Sarasota Bay to lower Tampa Bay, fishing fell off the face of the earth. It's been a struggle to find fish that will eat, but anglers willing to stick to it were rewarded with catches of snook, spotted seatrout, flounder, jack crevalle, black seabass and ladyfish over the past week." Capt. Ray added that the number of hookups was also down last week.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's said catch-and-release snook and trout were the No. 1 hits for him last week. "Snook ran up to 32 inches and the trout ranged from 14 inches on up to a few 'gators' in the 25-inch range. This action was followed closely by a number of redfish to 28 inches and scattered flounder, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and jack crevalle." He added, "The challenging part of angling right now is that most species are constantly on the move in an apparent attempt to avoid the frustrating red tide blooms. A spot that may prove productive one day will be really slow another. The same is true with bait gathering. The whitebait is pretty thick everywhere but will belly up on you at any given spot. I recommend that live shrimp be used as an alternative as it seems to be immune to the algae blooms."

Capt. Zach added that he's finding mangrove snapper to be on the increase inshore, and suggested using small pinfish and mud chubs as bait, with heavy hard bottom and dock pilings on the slower portion of the tides the best place to throw a hook. "These same areas will produce some flounder, big reds and an occasional grouper as well as snapper," he said.

On my boat Magic, we caught our limit on redfish and a few trout, plus lots of catch-and-release snook.

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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