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Date of Issue: December 03, 2010

Area anglers see schools of red

By Nick Walter
Islander Reporter

Team Hooker, captained by Ken Cummins of Bradenton, caught this 276-pound swordfish 130 nautical miles southwest of Anna Maria Sept. 6 during the Labor Day Billfish Tournament hosted by Galati Yacht Sales of Anna Maria. Twisted Bills, captained by Daniel Munyan of Tampa, took the top prize, while Team Hooker won second-place billfish for the catch. Islander Photo: Courtesy Chris Galati

Chris Galati Jr., pictured left with Team Galati, Anna Maria, received the Top Junior Angler award and the team took third place in the 27th annual Treasure Cay Billfish Tournament June 13-18 in Abaco, Bahamas. Islander Photo: Paula Fishman

Some staggering news of redfish has come in from various captains, with reports of 50-redfish days in local bays and beach waters.

In the late summer, redfish begin schooling up and moving inshore. Various CAL shads and MirrOlures or MirrOdines have been doing the trick for anglers. Anglers can take advantage of some of the big breeding redfish that have come from offshore. There was even a report of a 45-inch redfish caught last week in Palma Sola Bay.

Capt. Mike Greig said he’s been catching his share of redfish, which have been schooled up in local bays. He reported days of 30 and 50 reds caught on live shiners, while chumming with live and dead baits. He said chumming with dead shiners seems to work better because the redfish search in the grass beds for snacks. Greig said he also had been catching Spanish mackerel and sharks right off the beaches.

Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters said fishing around the Island was good this past week, with many varieties of fish. He said the redfish have been feeding in the mangrove bushes on the high tides “I’ve been tail-hooking the shiners and casting up into the open area of the bushes and letting the baits swim underneath the root systems,” Howard said. “The redfish like to hide under the mangrove canopy for protection and comfort due to the hot temperatures. On the falling tide, the reds have out of their shoreline haunts and into the potholes on the edges of the flats.”

He said the speckled trout bite has been good with a lot of little ones, as well as a few keepers. “I’ve been fishing in 2-8 feet of water to find these dependable and tasty fish,” he said.

Also, Howard noticed the mangrove snapper bite is starting to get hot. They have moved into the bay and around docks. Howard said dead shiners have worked well. “A tip to catch these tricky feeders is to let them have the bait when you feel the thump,” Howard said. “Let them pull your line tight and then set the hook.”

Phil Kirkland from the Sunshine Skyway south fishing pier said pompano, Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper, grouper, bluefish and sharks are hitting. He said the hottest bites have come from pompano and mackerel. The grouper bite, he said, has been decent.

Kimberly Shearer from Annie’s Bait & Tackle said she has customers reporting that they are catching huge sheepshead around the Longboat Key Bridge, including grunts up to 13 inches long by the buoy in front of Cannon’s Marina and mangrove snapper along the edges of Jewfish Key. She said the biggest snapper she heard caught was 18 1/2 inches long and the bait was jigheads tipped with pieces of shrimp.

Capt. Mark Johnston and Capt. Sam Kimball of Legend Fishing Charters are both catching tons of Spanish mackerel about 2 miles off the beach. Kimball is also catching blacktip sharks in the same area. Live shiners seem to be the best bait for them, he said. Kimball, when the weather is permitting, said he is catching a ton of red and gag grouper in about 100 feet of water.

Annamae Lahay from Corky’s Live Bait & Tackle said she has received reports of some oversize, as well as undersize, redfish, including a report of a 45-inch redfish in Palma Sola Bay. She also said fishers have been having success catching redfish in Sarasota Bay and in some spots near Longboat Pass. Most of the successful reports have been from fishers using live shrimp and a light split-shot for a successful cast, she said.

Fishers have reported a lot of speckled trout being caught in the local waters of Palma Sola and Sarasota Bay.  Most reports have been about speckled trout over the 20-inch length.

In the bays and backwaters, reports include “quite a few large black drum, speckled trout and snook,” she said. “Snook have been successfully being caught moreso at night than during the day.” 

She said other reports from inshore waters are mangrove snapper, grouper, bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Fishers are having success catching Spanish mackerel on gold and/or silver spoons during the daytime because light reflection attracts Spanish mackerel. Mangrove snapper have been attracted to live shrimp and live shrimp used with bucktail jigs, she said.

Capt. Warren Girle said on Sept. 10 he was catching redfish and trout on top-water plugs. Offshore, over a 7-mile reef, he said there were no keeper grouper, but there were tons of small grouper, limits of mangrove snapper and a keeper cobia. He said there were tons of Spanish mackerel as well. Girle was free-lining shiners for the macks. “I must have re-tied 50 hooks the other day,” Girle said. “I use 15-pound test leader and go as light as I can and bury the bait.”

He reported fishing in a nice group of 100 redfish using a small Rapala Skitterwalk and Sebile subsurface lure. “It’s tricky with the bluefish because the (Sebile’s) are around $15 a pop,” he said, indicating the toothy bluefish are capable of leader cut-offs. “But they work. I’m using silver with a greenish-blue back. They look like a pinfish and the reds really like it.” He said he also caught a couple on Exude jigs.

Send fishing news and photos to fish@islander.org.