Tag Archives: fishing

Tides produce a bite, storms put a damper on fishing

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Jack Baade and son Chris, visiting Anna Maria Island from North Carolina, show off a cobia caught July 10 nearshore on a shiner on a charter fishing trip with Captain Warren Girle. The pair also loaded up on mangrove snapper.
Todd Gaenzle of Pennsylvania shows off one of his two tarpon catches, hooked on a live crab July 7 while on a charter fishing trip with Capt. Aaron Lowman. Gaenzle fought this silver king for 30 minutes before taking a couple photos and releasing the fish. The tarpon were found biting in the morning off the beaches of Anna Maria Island.

Although the afternoon outgoing tides look nothing less than stellar for fishing the flats, the pop-up thunderstorms we are experiencing are making it tough to be on the water.

Don’t be discouraged — the morning tides are producing a bite. I’m finding limits of mangrove snapper around residential docks and on the deeper grass flats. Where you don’t have to run the boat far in the event of a storm. These snapper may not be the 18-20 inches you’ll find on the reefs and wrecks, but it you can get a limit of 12-15 inchers you’re doing all right.

To catch these feisty little fish, you can try one of two methods.

When fishing around the docks, a small knocker rig made of a 1/4-ounce weight and a size-4 circle hook will do the trick. When on the flats, omit the sinkers and try free lining the bait. And speaking of bait, the small shiners — known as “hatch bait” — are perfect. It’s like they were meant for this type of fishing.

Since we’re talking about hatch bait, don’t be discouraged about size when targeting catch-and-release snook, trout and redfish on the flats. I’m finding all three species don’t seem to mind. In fact, they’re biting the small stuff better than the huge shiners.

You may want to add a popping cork to aid in casting the small shiners. This is working especially well for trout fishing. For the snook, the free-line method is working, especially when the fish are in shallow, clear water. For the reds, try putting two small baits on one hook and see what happens.

Capt. Warren Girle is running his charters out to the nearshore structure for mangrove snapper. By using live shiners as bait with a bottom rig, Girle’s anglers are reeling up mangoes in the 15-inch range. Mixed in with the snapper are juvenile grouper and Key West grunts.

On the flats, Girle is finding spotted seatrout to be the most consistent bite. Free-lining shiners or rigging them under a popping cork is producing trout up to 20 inches.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is working the flats of Tampa Bay for spotted seatrout. On flats where the water depth is 5-8 feet, Lowman is finding numerous trout. Most catches are 12-15 inches, with bigger fish mixed in.

Fishing nearshore wrecks also is producing action for Lowman’s clients. Free-lined shiners are hooking up with Spanish mackerel and bonito. Shiners on a bottom rig are getting attention, especially from mangrove snapper, flounder and gag grouper.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is targeting the inshore and nearshore reefs. Live shiners as bait are quickly being eaten by Spanish mackerel when fished on the surface. Adding a sinker to this rig and bottom fishing with the shiners is a sure way to catch mangrove snapper, gag grouper and grunts.

On the flats, Gross is finding many spotted seatrout. Most are 10-20-inches. This bite is occurring on deeper flats in 8-10 feet of water or less. On shallower flats with depths of 3 feet or less, Gross is hooking up clients with many catch-and-release snook.

Capt. Jason Stock is fishing offshore with good results. On ledges and hard bottom, Stock is putting clients on a variety of fish, including mangrove and yellowtail snapper. Also in these areas are red grouper. Live pinfish and shiners are proven baits for any of these species.

Fishing offshore wrecks is proving to be good for Stock. Free-lining live pass crabs is resulting in hookups on permit up to 20 pounds. Another inhabitant at the wrecks is goliath grouper. Large baits, such as jack crevalle, can attract this huge catch-and-release species to the hook.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is taking his anglers offshore. By drifting in depths of 120 feet of water, White is leading his clients to a variety of snappers — mangrove, lane, vermillion and American reds. Big red grouper and African pompano also are being taken in this fashion.

For bait, live pinfish or shiners are working most of the time. When the fish are finicky, White likes to switch to dead baits, including threadfin herring and sardines, which often can trigger a bite.

Fishing 101: Before catching fish, you must have bait

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David Bittick, left, Josh Treeful, Halle and Gary Bittick and Bryan and Maddie Faria, all visiting Anna Maria Island from Texas, show off their dinner catch. The group fished July 4 nearshore with shiners and found success on spotted seatrout with Capt. Warren Girle.
Sunrise sets the tone for the early morning bait catch June 26 for writer Capt. Danny Stasny, operator of Southernaire fishing charters.
Mike Collins of St. Petersburg shows off a mutton snapper caught July 5 while targeting yellowtail snapper with Capt. Jason Stock.

Bait was on my mind.

As I left my house to go to the boat at 4:45 a.m., the temperature was already a balmy 80 degrees. And, to be honest, that felt cool compared to what I knew the rest of the day would bring.

In the dark, I pulled my truck into the Mainsail Marina in Holmes Beach and commenced to unload and prepare the boat for another charter and another day of fishing.

After loading the rods, nets, chum and ice, I untied my 23-foot C Hawk from the dock and made my way into Anna Maria Sound. Everything was quiet and peaceful, aside from the light hum of my Yamaha 4-stroke engine.

As I pulled away from the marina and exited the “no wake” zone, I gently pushed on the throttle and brought the boat up on plane. I reached 20 knots and the boat leveled out nicely. I felt the warm air press against me, cooling the sweat on my face and T-shirt. I pushed through the darkness en route to the grass flats with anticipation of loading my bait well.

Now it was 5:45 a.m. and I eased the boat onto the flat to set anchor and start chumming. Heat lightning was flashing to the west, illuminating large clouds that looked like far-away mountains in the Gulf of Mexico. I wondered if a storm was coming, but hadn’t seen anything on the weather radar, so I continued to chum.

The sun was going to rise in a few minutes and the sky took on a sequence of beautiful pastels — blue, pink and purple. In the twilight, I could see the surface of the bay beginning to dimple where I was throwing the chum. The shiners were beginning to show. Simultaneously, small groups of seagulls flew east from their roosting spots on the beach as they headed into the bay to catch breakfast.

It was time to throw the net.

I gathered my 10-foot cast net in my hand by the horn, folded it once and spun half the net over my shoulder. With a small piece of the lead line between my teeth, I let the shouldered part of the net gently slide down into my right hand, securing another piece of the lead line between my index finger and thumb.

Now I was ready. With a half spin of my body for momentum, I threw the net into the air. As it opened into almost a perfect circle, it peeled into the water. I waited a moment to let it sink, then began to pull on the line. As the line went tight, I would feel the bait darting in the net, sending a vibration to my hand.

I got it.

I gently pulled the net over the boat’s gunwale and cleared it into the bait well. Shiners, threadfin herring and pinfish began falling into the well, flipping and skipping, figuring out their new surroundings. “Not bad for the first throw,” I thought. “It’s not always that easy.”

I needed more bait so I repeated this process three more times. Then it was time to clean the boat and pick up my clients.

As I cleaned the seagrass from the deck, I saw pinfish, small crabs and even a pipefish on the deck, waiting for me to put them back in the water. There were some dead shiners and threadfins there, which, after being thrown overboard, were quickly devoured by juvenile snapper and ravenous pinfish.

I sat and watched this occur for a moment before realizing it was nearing 7 a.m., which was when I was supposed to be at the dock to pick up my charter. I pulled anchor and idled away from the flat to the channel. Now, back on plane, I skipped along the surface of the bay toward the marina, satisfied I was ready for the day.

It was time to go fishing. Another great day on the water stretched ahead of me.

Capt. Jason Stock is fishing offshore wrecks, reefs and hard bottom. While fishing reefs and hard bottom, Stock is catching a variety of snappers, including mangrove, yellowtails and mutton snapper. Fishing around the offshore wrecks is proving good action for Stock, especially on permit and goliath grouper.

Moving inshore, Stock is targeting catch-and-release snook. Casting live shiners along mangrove shorelines where lush seagrass is present is resulting in linesiders up to 30 inches for Stock’s clients.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters also is targeting catch-and-release snook, working shorelines throughout southern Tampa Bay. Rallies of fish exceeding 30 or more hook ups in an hour are not uncommon this time of year when fishing with Gross. For bait, live shiners are unbeatable. Casting these bait around mangrove edges or oyster bars is producing instant gratification for Gross and his clients. Most snook hookups are 20-30 inches.

For anglers looking to catch fish for dinner, Gross is leading clients to mangrove snapper, redfish and flounder. All three species are being caught by casting live shiners under and around residential docks. To put a respectable number of fish in the box, Gross is moving from dock to dock.

Capt. Warren Girle is putting clients on mangrove snapper around the artificial reefs. Bottom fishing with live shiners is resulting in mangrove snapper up to 16 inches. While targeting snapper, Girle is hooking up with juvenile grouper, Key West grunts, cobia and an occasional flounder.

In the backcountry of Sarasota Bay, Girle is finding spotted seatrout to be quite plentiful. Casting live shiners under a popping cork around deep grass flats is producing slot and under-slot fish. Mixed in with the trout are ladyfish and Spanish mackerel.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is working the rocks and docks for mangrove snapper and flounder. Casting live shiners combined with a split shot around docks is producing some nice catches for Lowman’s clients, especially on the flounder. Changing to a slightly heavier rig — a 1/2-ounce knocker rig — is working for the mangrove snapper around rock piles in Tampa Bay.

Other species being caught in Tampa Bay include gag grouper, Spanish mackerel and ladyfish.

On the flats of Terra Ceia and Miguel Bay, Lowman is attracting numerous catch-and-release snook to the boat. Live, free-lined shiners are his bait of choice. Chumming with live baits is a crucial aid in getting these fish to bite. It not only gets them in the mood, but as they strike the surface to eat a chummer, they give up their location, which enables the angler to cast to them.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is spending most of his week fishing offshore. Baits such as live shiners, pinfish and threadfin herring, are producing good action in depths of 130-160 feet of water. Species such as American red snapper, African pompano, yellowtail and mangrove snapper are being caught — just to name a few.

Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Intense heat, humidity and fishing spell out summertime

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Luke Mutter of Bradenton Beach shows off his offshore July 2 catch of the day — a 20-plus-pound kingfish caught on a shiner. Mutter was guided to the fish by Captain Warren Girle.

The humidity is up, the heat is intense and the fishing is following suit.

Whether inshore or offshore, there is plenty of productive fishing. Red grouper, snappers and permit are being caught around nearshore and offshore structure. Also in these areas are flounder, goliath grouper and shark.

Moving inshore is providing good action, too. Spotted seatrout can be found around deep grass flats during incoming tides. Expect also to hook into mackerel, ladyfish and even small blacktip sharks. Shallower flats are producing sizzling action on catch-and-release snook. Free-lined shiners in these areas are producing respectable numbers of linesiders. Sessions resulting in 30-40 snook are not uncommon.

On my Southernaire charters, I’m starting off in the morning targeting mangrove snapper. These fish are being taken around rocks and docks throughout southern Tampa Bay. On average I’m seeing a dozen or so fish in the box before the bites starts to slow down.

Once we have dinner in the cooler, I’m migrating to the flats to get in on the spotted seatrout bite. These fish are being found among the deeper grass during morning incoming tides. Live, free-lined shiners or shiners under a cork are working best as bait. Actually, most bites are occurring on the smaller-sized shiners — “hatch bait,” as we like to call it. Mixed in with the trout bite are Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and some small blacktip sharks.

Lastly, catch-and-release snook are abundant on some of the shallow grass flats in Tampa Bay. Free-lining shiners during swift moving tides is resulting in some phenomenal snook action. For these fish, the medium-to-large shiners are working best as bait. Most catches are 20-28 inches, with hook ups of as many as 25-30 fish on a morning trip.

Capt. Warren Girle is working charters over nearshore structure in the Gulf of Mexico. By using live shiners combined with a 1/2-ounce knocker rig, Girle is landing respectable numbers of mangrove snapper. Most catches are 15-20 inches. Mixed in with the snapper bite are juvenile gag and red grouper, as well as numerous Key West grunts.

Changing baits to free-lined pass crabs or Doc’s goofy jigs is producing another favorite among local anglers — permit. These “hub caps” are being caught by lucky anglers in the same areas as the snapper. Permit in the 10-pound range are the norm.

While fishing Sarasota Bay, Girle is catching numerous trout on flats of 3-5 feet in depth. Live shiners fished under a popping cork are attracting attention spotted seatrout as well as Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and an occasional bluefish.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is taking charters to the nearshore ledges and hard bottom with good results. By bottom fishing with live shiners or pinfish, Lowman’s clients are catching keeper-size red grouper, as well as mangrove snapper and Key West grunts. An occasional flounder is being taken.

Moving inshore, Lowman is targeting spotted seatrout throughout the lush grass flats of Anna Maria Sound. Live shiners under a popping cork are producing the bite. While targeting trout, his anglers also are catching ladyfish and Spanish mackerel.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is targeting a variety of species throughout the waters of southern Tampa Bay and in the Gulf of Mexico. To start, Gross is targeting mangrove snapper on the inshore and nearshore reefs. Mixed in with the snapper are grouper and flounder.

After the reef bite calms down, Gross is migrating to the flats to target spotted seatrout. Live shiners under a cork are providing the best action. Catch-and-release snook also are being caught on the flats. Free-lined shiners are the best bait for this.

Capt. Jason Stock is working the offshore waters for a variety of fish. Permit are being found sunning themselves over wrecks in 50-100 feet of water. Live crabs cast in their direction are quickly being devoured, resulting in drag-screaming runs and sore arms for Stock’s clients. Bottom fishing offshore is providing good action for a variety of snapper, including mangrove, yellowtail and American red.

Moving inshore, Stock is chasing some of the remaining tarpon. Live threadfin herring and shiners are working during the morning bite. On the evening outgoing tides, live crabs are a no-brainer. Fish up to 150 pounds are being brought boat side.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters, also is targeting tarpon along the beaches. Casting pass crabs or threadfin herring is producing a bite. Most catches are 50-120 pounds.

Moving to the flats, White’s anglers are hooking up with numerous spotted seatrout. Most catches are slot-size fish in the 15-20 inch range. Also on the flats, White is catching an occasional redfish. Catch-and-release snook round out the flats experience for White. Rallies of schooley-size fish are common.

        Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Tropical Storm Cindy puts brief damper on AMI fishing

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Matt Kriser, visiting Anna Maria Island from Highlands Park, Illinois, shows off a keeper gag grouper June 17, the result of an offshore charter fishing trip with Capt. Warren Girle. Kriser also caught and released several permit and numerous snapper.
Capt. Justin Moore assists 
Patricia Hendler of Holmes Beach with her June 17 catch, a 100-pound tarpon hooked offshore of Coquina Beach. The fish jumped twice during an “epic 30- minute battle,” according to Moore.

Despite daily thunderstorms and frequent windy days caused by Tropical Storm Cindy’s northward movement in the Gulf of Mexico, fishing around Anna Maria Island is managing to put smiles on visiting and local anglers alike.

Fishing inshore is slightly challenging, although spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook are producing some decent action. Fishing structure in Tampa Bay south to Sarasota is resulting in mangrove snapper, as well as numerous juvenile grouper. Flounder also are present in these areas, and are being caught by lucky anglers.

Moving offshore, fishing ledges and reefs is proving to be quite good, although due to windy days and rough seas, windows of opportunity to get out to these bites are limited. Reports of African pompano, yellowtail and mangrove snapper are frequent, as well as shark, bonito and permit.

On Southernaire charters, the bite has been on and off. On calm days, I’m venturing with my anglers out to wrecks and reefs, which is providing a great bite for mangrove snapper and flounder. On windy days, we’re staying on the flats, which is proving to be great for catch-and-release snook. Days of 30-40 snook in a two-hour session can be common. As for other fishing on those windy days, I’m finding spotted seatrout, although the bite is spotty, and not because the trout have spots. Using smaller shiners is producing the best action when these fish become finicky. Luckily, there are jack crevalle, ladyfish and Spanish mackerel present in the same areas to fill the lengthy gap between trout bites.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is working offshore on days when the seas are calm. Using large shiners or pinfish as bait, White is hooking into red grouper, American red snapper, mangrove snapper and African pompano. Also, plus-size jack crevalle are being caught, which are excellent to target on the fly.

Moving inshore, White is putting his clients on tarpon in the passes during strong morning tides, where pass crabs are the bait of choice. Fish 80-100 pounds are average, with larger silver kings possible.

Capt. Jason Stock is running his charters offshore with good results. On days when the winds are light and Gulf waters calm, Stock is venturing out to depths of 60-100 feet of water to search for variety. Mangrove and yellowtail snapper are predominant around ledges. Small shiners on a bottom rig are enticing these tasty fish to bite. Around artificial reefs and wrecks, Stock is finding goliath grouper and big sharks to keep his clients busy.

Moving inshore, Stock is hooking clients up with tarpon along the beaches and passes. Small crabs or threadfin herring are attracting the bite. He’s finding tarpon in the 80-120 pound range.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is working at the nearshore ledges, resulting in good action for his clients. Red grouper up to 10 pounds are being caught on live pinfish combined with a bottom rig. Also present in these areas are mangrove snapper, Spanish mackerel, bonito and sharks.
In the backcountry, Lowman is finding spotted seatrout in areas where the water is clear and the tidal flow is swift. Free-lined live shiners are the bait of choice here.

Capt. Warren Girle is taking his anglers to the nearshore reefs for mangrove snapper and permit. For the snapper, small shiners on a bottom rig are attracting attention from the 12-18 inch snappers. As for the permit, a small pass crab placed in front of the fish’s nose is sure to be eaten. Permit in the 10-pound range are average.

Moving inshore, Girle is chasing tarpon along the beaches of Anna Maria Island. Some morning excursions are resulting in as many as five or six hookups. Fish in the 120-pound range are average.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing numerous snook cruising in the shallows at the base of the pier as well as along the beach all the way to Bean Point. Most of these fish are schooley-sized, ranging 20-26 inches, although every so often a large female is spotted. For the smaller snook, free-lined live shiners are resulting in hookups. For fish exceeding 30 inches, the same bait will work, although larger baits such as pinfish, mojarras or even small ladyfish will trigger a strike from this catch-and-release fighter.

Other action on the R&R includes jack crevalle, redfish and flounder. For the reds and flounder, pier anglers are casting baits along the perimeter of the pier or directly under the boards. As for the jacks, jigs and spoons will do the trick.

Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Rainy weather slows, fishing returns to normal

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Tom Waller and Elaine Sullivan of Wimborne, England, show off a 34-inch cobia they caught June 13 on a charter fishing trip with Capt. Danny Stasny of Southernaire Fishing Charters.
Tessa Robinson, front, of South Africa and Pat Goldwater of Pennsylvania, long-time friends, went searching for tarpon June 4 with Capt. Warren Girle Once hooked, it took both women to get the fish to the boat for the photo before it was released.

Well, after a week-long soaking from thunderstorms, fishing around Anna Maria Island is starting to fall back into the summertime pattern that started a few weeks earlier, in spite of the official start of summer this week, June 21.

Fishing the flats for snook and spotted seatrout is proving to be effective. For the snook, mangrove shorelines where good tidal flow exists is producing decent numbers of catch-and-release fish. As for the trout, deeper grass flats during early morning outgoing tides seem to be the ticket. Mixed in with the trout are ladyfish, jack crevalle and Spanish mackerel — a nice addition to the bite.

Fishing rock piles, reefs and wrecks is resulting in some tasty species of fish, including mangrove snapper, flounder, permit and cobia. Other species being found in these areas include barracuda, goliath grouper, sharks and bonito.

On Southernaire charters, we are reef fishing, where mangrove snapper are making a decent showing, although you still have to work to achieve limits. Flounder are in the mix at 15-20 inches. Lastly, cobia up to 38 inches are taking the hook. Catching and landing these large fish on “snapper tackle” requires some skill and a little luck.

On the flats, I’m finding the spotted seatrout accommodating. Free-lined live shiners cast over flats with depths of 6-8 feet are producing trout 15-20 inches along with Spanish mackerel, bluefish and ladyfish.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is working the flats of southern Tampa Bay for spotted seatrout. Fishing deep grass flats of 5 feet or more where strong-flowing tides exist is resulting in numerous trout, as well as bluefish, ladyfish and Spanish mackerel. Live, free-lined shiners are Lowman’s bait of choice.

Moving out into the Gulf of Mexico, Lowman is patrolling wrecks and reefs in search of a bite. Free-lining live threadfin herring in these areas is resulting in shark, bonito and barracuda.

Capt. Warren Girle is targeting tarpon along the beaches of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. Casting live crabs or threadfin herring to schooling fish is resulting in hookups of these powerful fish. Persistence is key this week, since fewer numbers of fish are present due to the full moon. Average size of the tarpon being caught is 80-150 pounds.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing numerous snook under the pier and along the shoreline near the pier. Live, free-lined shiners are hooking the smaller fish along the beach, while larger baits, such as pinfish, ladyfish and grunts are attracting slot- and over-slot fish to the bite. The snook put up a good fight, but alas, it’s all catch and release now.

Pier fishers using shrimp for bait are hooking into an occasional redfish, flounder and jack crevalle. Using artificials — jigs or spoons — is resulting in a mack bite.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is having good results with snook on free-lined live shiners on shallow grass flats with numerous hookups of 20-30 inch fish. Mangrove shorelines and oyster bars include some of the aspects of good snook territory. Combine these with good tidal flow and you have a recipe for some great action.

Fishing deeper grass flats with Gross is producing spotted sea trout, bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Free-lined live shiners are Gross’ bait of choice.

Finally, fishing rock piles in Tampa Bay is producing mangrove snapper, juvenile grouper and flounder.

Capt. Jason Stock is pursuing tarpon, patrolling beaches and passes from Egmont Key to Longboat. He’s producing respectable numbers of fish for his clients, with live crabs, threadfin herring, pinfish and large shiners as bait. He reports the sizes of tarpon between 80-160 pounds.

Moving offshore, Stock is finding his share of permit around the wrecks. Live pass crabs sight-cast to these schooling “garbage can lids” are producing hookups with fish up to 25 pounds. Also, while offshore, Stock is catching mangrove snapper on live shiners around reefs and over hard bottom.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is working inshore charters with good results. Redfish, spotted seatrout, mangrove snapper and catch-and-release snook are being caught by his clients. Live bait is producing good action, although even fly fishing is producing a bite. Large bull redfish are readily taking flies in clouser and mullet patterns.

Moving offshore, White is hooking up with numerous snapper, including yellowtail, mangrove and lane. Live shiners are producing, but live shrimp also are attracting fish to the hook, especially hogfish.

            Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Heavy rains, windy conditions put damper on fishing

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Greg Goff, visiting Anna Maria Island from Dodge City, Kansas, shows off the 38-inch cobia he caught on a shiner on a June 10 charter with Capt. Danny Stasny of Southernaire Fishing Charters.
Hannah Paffumi of Huntsville, Alabama, shows off a beautiful red grouper she caught June 9 using a sardine in about 130 feet of water offshore of Anna Maria Island. Her family party caught its limit of grouper plus scamp, mahi mahi and a variety of snappers on Show Me The Fish Charters with Capt. Larry McGuire.
Dave Morrison and Mark Semtana of Maryland spent four days working Tampa Bay for tarpon, then caught and  and released  several permit May 30. They were guided by Capt. Warren Girle.

Well, it looks like it’s back to the drawing board this week for anglers who plan to fish around Anna Maria Island.

After numerous days of long-lasting thunderstorms and strong winds, fishing our local waters became challenging. Murky water is making it difficult to fish the flats, as well as along the beaches. On days when the winds are calm, fishing nearshore structure for mangrove snapper, juvenile grouper and flounder is proving to be the best option.

This being said, conditions are improving daily. Fishing prior to the stormy weather was nothing less than stellar and I see it quickly returning. Getting back into our normal summertime pattern of calm east breezes during the day and thunderstorms in the evening is pertinent. And it will come. When the waters clear from all of the stirred up sand and stormwater runoff, we will see fishing as good as it ever was.

Capt. Warren Girle is targeting tarpon throughout the coastal waters of our region. Fishing the passes of Longboat Key and Bean Point and around Egmont Key are producing good action during the morning hours. Later in the day, patrolling the beaches in search of schooling silver kings is proving effective. Catches are 80-120 pounds.

On days when he’s not chasing tarpon, Girle is fishing the nearshore reefs for a variety of species, including cobia, mangrove snapper, permit and shark. The most predominant bite is the mangrove snapper. Girle’s clients are hooking up with limits of these fish.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing an assortment of fish species on the hooks at the pier. Fishers using artificials such as jigs and spoons are catching Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle and ladyfish. Pompano are in the mix for lucky anglers casting shrimp-tipped jigs. Redfish and snook are being caught by live bait fishers with shiners and pinfish the baits of choice. Lastly, an occasional flounder is being caught by casting live shrimp under the pier.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is targeting tarpon throughout southern Tampa Bay. Live pass crabs are working as bait in the passes while the fish along the beaches prefer threadfin herring.

Lowman suggests fishing either early morning or late evening to produce the best action.

On the flats, Lowman is catching numerous spotted seatrout. Mixed in with the trout are Spanish mackerel, bluefish and ladyfish.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is working the nearshore structure for mangrove snapper. Limits of these tasty fish are being caught while bottom fishing around artificial reefs, wrecks and ledges. Live shiners are the bait of choice for Gross.

Also, while fishing structure in the Gulf, Gross was targeting cobia, Spanish mackerel and shark, and came upon an unexpected catch — a 30-inch snook.

On the flats, trout are plentiful in depths of 6-8 feet. Live, free-lined shiners are producing the bite. Snook and redfish are being caught on the flats, in areas where the depth is 2-4 feet.

Capt. Jason Stock is hunting tarpon along the beaches and passes of Longboat Key, Egmont Key and Anna Maria Island. For bait, live crabs, threadfin herring, shiners and pinfish are producing a bite. Most catches are occurring during the morning or evening. Sizes are 60-140 pounds.

Moving offshore, Stock is catching permit, gag grouper, yellowtail and mangrove snapper. Goliath grouper are in the same areas as the snapper, which for Stock is an opportunity to reel up some huge fish. After taking pictures of these massive grouper, they are released back to the depths.

Lastly, great hammerhead sharks are patrolling the beaches in search of a meal — unsuspecting tarpon. When one is spotted, Stock instructs clients to cast a large jack crevalle, mackerel or other whole fish to intrigue the large shark to bite.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is running offshore, where American red snapper, red grouper, blackfin tuna and African pompano are being caught around offshore wrecks. Also in these areas are yellowtail and mangrove snapper. For bait, shiners, pinfish or cut-bait will produce a bite.

Moving inshore, White is targeting catch-and-release snook and spotted seatrout. Snook are being found along mangrove shorelines and in the passes along the beaches. As for the trout, deep grass flats in Sarasota Bay are holding good numbers of fish.

Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Summer-like weather heats up nearshore, inshore fishing

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David Wissler, visiting Anna Maria Island from Ephrata, Pennsylvania, along with Caleb Horst and Doug Horst, both of Palmyra, Pennsylvania, show off a sailfish they hooked on Memorial Day in 120 feet of water off of Anna Maria while on a charter fishing trip with Capt. David White. White said it was “a catch of a lifetime” for the Pennsylvanians and for him, too!
Chris Burwell, visiting Anna Maria Island from New Jersey, shows off his first ever tarpon hookup May 25 with assistance from Capt. Warren Girle. Burwell had a morning charter and Girle set him up for success with pass crabs for bait.

Fishing around Anna Maria Island is finally falling into the true summertime pattern — although the official June 21 start of summer is two weeks off.

Tarpon are finally — although a little late — making a fair showing. The numbers of fish are increasing by the day.

Flats fishing for catch-and-release snook is providing great action for inshore anglers. Also coming to the hook inshore are numerous spotted seatrout as well as Spanish mackerel and bluefish. Finally, offshore fishing is really heating up. Reports of American red snapper are nothing short of exceptional, while gag and red grouper are being caught with regularity.

My fishing experiences on Southernaire fishing charters are filled with action. Fishing grass flats with depths of 2-3 feet of clear, clean water is resulting in rallies of snook. Morning sessions on the schooley-size snook are resulting in hook ups of 40-60 fish. Screaming drags are the result and anglers are smiling in spite of the closed season.

Fishing deeper grass is producing great numbers of spotted seatrout. Numerous fish just within the 15-20-inch slot are being caught along with a few larger fish. Jack crevalle, bluefish, ladyfish and Spanish mackerel are mixed in with the trout.

Fishing nearshore structure also is proving to be worthwhile. Mangrove snapper are finally starting to show in numbers around the reefs and wrecks. Most catches are 15-18 inches. Spanish mackerel, flounder and barracuda also are being caught in these areas.

Finally, last but not least, the tarpon are showing up in better numbers. I’m seeing numerous schools of fish in my travels through the passes at Bean Point, Longboat Key and Egmont Key, as well as along the beaches. Live pass crabs are working best as bait during the pre-dawn bite. Once the sun starts getting high in the sky, I’m switching to threadfin herring to attract the silver kings to the hook.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is targeting tarpon in the passes north and south of Anna Maria Island and along the beaches. Pass crabs or threadfin herring are White’s bait of choice. Fish up to 120 pounds are being caught and released.

Moving offshore, White is taking advantage of light winds and calm seas. While venturing out to depths of 120 feet, White is finding a variety of fish, including permit, blackfin tuna, red grouper and many different snappers.

The highlight of the week for White was a sailfish caught-and-released Memorial Day by clients David Wissler, Caleb Horst and Doug Hors.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is targeting tarpon during the early morning and evening tides, when threadfin herring and pass crabs are producing a bite for Lowman’s anglers. Early morning fishing on pass crabs is producing the most hookups. As the sun gets higher, free-lined threadfin herring is working better as bait, according to Lowman.

In the backcountry, Lowman is working the deep grass flats for spotted seatrout and Spanish mackerel. On the shallower flats along the mangrove shorelines, snook are the dominant bite.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is patrolling the inshore reefs for a variety of species. Baiting the hooks with live shiners is producing Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper, cobia and barracuda for his clients. Permit also are present in these areas, where they’re being taken on a jig or free-lined live crab.

Moving inshore, Gross is finding numerous spotted seatrout on deep grass during incoming tides. Spanish mackerel and bluefish are present in these areas.

Capt. Warren Girle is suffering from tarpon fever. Whether it’s morning, night, afternoon or evening, you’re going to find Girle in pursuit of silver kings. For bait, Girle is working with live pass crabs and threadfin herring. He says most tarpon charters are resulting in numerous tarpon hookups, with the average size range running 80-150 pounds.

Capt. Jason Stock is running offshore charters, resulting in a variety of species reeled up to the boat. Gag grouper and red snapper are the most dominant fish caught while offshore, although permit and goliath grouper are not uncommon.

Moving inshore, Stock is targeting tarpon. Most catches are 80-120 pounds with bigger fish in the mix. Stock also is putting clients on large hammerhead sharks with large baits — whole jack crevalle or bonito. He reports the hammerheads coming to the boat are in excess of 10 feet.

        Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Wind reduces number of silver king hookups, back country fishing still good

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Don Garber, of New Jersey and Lido Key and commissioner of Major League Soccer since 1999, shows off one of three tarpon he hooked on pass crabs and brought to the boat on a guided fishing trip May 28 with Capt. Warren Girle.
Shelly Deyoung, left, and Susie Kirkland, both visiting from Lansing, Michigan, show off the lane snappers they caught May 22 in about 100-feet of water offshore of Anna Maria Island. Their party caught plenty of snapper and big red grouper while on a charter fishing trip with Capt. Larry McGuire Show Me The Fish.
Connie Smith of Woodstock, Georgia shows off the 29-inch redfish she caught May 23 while fishing with Capt. Danny Stasny of Southernaire Fishing Charters.

Despite wind and thunderstorms, fishing around Anna Maria Island remains consistent.

Tarpon is on most angler’s agendas, although windy conditions make it difficult to target them. Catches are occurring in the passes and along the beaches near Tampa Bay, where live crabs, threadfin herring and large shiners are working as bait.

In the backcountry, spotted seatrout are dominating the bite. On my own excursions with Southernaire, we are finding numerous trout on deep grass flats during the incoming tides. Some chumming is required to get the trout in a frisky mood but, once this occurs, multiple hook ups are is not uncommon. Spotted seatrout up to 22 inches are being reeled up with consistency.

Fishing shallower flats where oyster bars and mangrove shorelines exist is resulting in redfish and catch-and-release snook. Both species are taking live free-lined shiners as offerings. Mixed in with bite are an occasional “gator” trout, as well as a few flounder and juvenile barracuda.

Capt. Warren Girle is targeting tarpon along the beaches of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. Most bites are occurring on live crabs as bait, although threadfin herring and large shiners are being used. Most catches are 75-125 pounds. Early morning trips are producing the best action

When the winds are too strong to fish for tarpon, Girle is working the flats of Sarasota Bay. Spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook are the most dominant bite. Live free-lined shiners are Girle’s bait of choice in the bay.

Capt. Jason Stock also is targeting tarpon — fishing the passes early in the morning and then patrolling the beaches of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key throughout the day. He’s getting clients some hookups on silver kings. Crabs, threadfin herring and large shiners are producing the bite.

Fishing offshore is producing action for Stock, too. Fishing around wrecks and reefs is proving to be good for migratory fish, including blackfin tuna, bonito and king mackerel. In these areas, bottom fishing is resulting in mangrove snapper and goliath grouper.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is running clients offshore on days when the winds are light and the seas are calm. Migrating fish such as bonito, blackfin tuna and cobia are being caught around offshore structure. Bottom fishing in areas where hard bottom and ledges exist is resulting in red grouper and mangrove snapper for White’s anglers.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is putting his efforts in on the flats of Anna Maria Sound. Targeting spotted seatrout is proving to be most productive in the backcountry. Fishing flats in 6-8 feet of water is producing a mix of species, including trout, bluefish, mackerel and jack crevalle. Fishing shallower areas of 2-3 feet is proving to result in catch-and-release snook.

On days with light winds, Lowman is venturing into the Gulf of Mexico in search of tarpon, where he’s finding live crabs, threadfin herring and shiners will produce a bite.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters targeting the flats of Southern Tampa Bay and the adjacent waters, where spotted seatrout are being found in abundance on deep grass flats. Free-lining live shiners or shiners under a popping cork are producing the bite. Fishing shallower areas close to mangrove shorelines is producing rallies on catch-and-release snook, with a few redfish in the mix.

Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Fishing inshore and near as hot as temps

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Herb Schutte of Ohio hooks up a tarpon on a pass crab in Tampa Bay May 19 and holds him long enough for a photo. Schutte was guided on his charter fishing trip by Capt. Warren Girle.
Capt. Logan Bystrom works the tarpon catch prior to its release. Looking on are his son Hayes, held by Uncle Connor Bystrom, and a friend of Connor’s from veterinary school, Bucky Buxton of Oklahoma, holding the rod. It was Hayes’ first tarpon-fishing trip and a celebration for the birthday of his mom and wife of Logan, Rachael Bystrom. Islander Courtesy Photo

The fishing is heating up much like the weather.

Fishing the flats for redfish, spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook is in full swing. You also can start finding snook in the passes and along the beaches during calm mornings or evenings.

Fishing offshore is heating up with reports of blackfin tuna, cobia, permit and king mackerel. Days with light winds or no winds at all are most favorable in deep waters. Grouper and snapper also are being caught.

On my own Southernaire charter adventures, I’m putting anglers on numerous spotted seatrout throughout the flats of southern Tampa Bay and its surrounding waters. Live shiners free-lined over deeper flats of 6-8 feet where clear water from the Gulf is flowing into the bay is proving most productive. Spotted seatrout up to 22 inches are being caught, with most catches 16-18 inches.

Catch-and-release snook fishing remains a favorite pastime for my clients. Spending an hour or so rallying on 20-26 inchers is a great way to take the edge off the morning. While targeting these snook, I’m stumbling on a sporadic redfish bite. At least there’s a bite. Most catches are 16-24 inches.

Lastly, fishing nearshore structure is starting to produce some mangrove snapper. Live shiners on a 1/2-ounce knocker rig are attracting mangoes up to 18 inches in as little as 15 feet of water. Mixed in with the snapper are flounder and juvenile grouper.

Capt. Aaron Lowman also is hunting inshore for the popular trio of redfish, spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook. For the reds and snook, Lowman is finding areas where oyster bars and mangrove roots are present. He also favors big falling tides when targeting these species. For the spotted seatrout, deep grass flats where clean water is swiftly flowing is proving productive. Mixed in with the trout are bluefish, jack crevalle and ladyfish.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is working offshore with good results. Fishing hard bottom in depths of 120 feet is resulting in big red grouper. Mixed in are local snappers — American red, lane, mangrove, vermilion and yellowtail. Wreck fishing offshore is producing blackfin tuna, permit, cobia and amberjack for White’s anglers.

Capt. Warren Girle is targeting tarpon along the beaches of Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island. Live crabs and threadfin herring cast into schooling fish are producing a bite. Although it’s the early stage of tarpon season, Girle is jumping fish on a daily basis.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is easing around the lush grass flats of Tampa Bay, where ,on deeper flats in 6-8 feet of water, he’s putting clients on spotted seatrout with either live free-lined shiners or shiners rigged under a popping cork. Mixed in with the trout bite are bluefish and Spanish mackerel. On shallower flats of 3 feet or less, Gross is finding redfish. Mangroves and oyster bars make up the habitat where the reds lurk.

Finally, catch-and-release snook are being found in the passes and along the beaches. Sight-casting to these fish with live shiners is resulting in fish up to 30 inches for Gross’ clients.

Capt. Jason Stock is running charters offshore with good results around wrecks and reefs. He’s leading clients to blackfin tuna, king mackerel, permit, cobia and goliath grouper. For the migratory fish — tuna, macks and cobia — live shiners, threadfin herring and pinfish are working well. As for the permit, a tasty little pass crab will do the trick. Finally, for the goliaths, any large bait — whole jack or mackerel — will suffice.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing a variety of fish reeled up to the boards. Mangrove snapper, flounder and redfish are just a few of the species he’s reporting are being caught at the pier. Catch-and-release snook also are being caught occasionally. Finally, Spanish mackerel and jack crevalle can be caught with the use of small jigs or silver spoons.

Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Calming winds result in great fishing in bays, Gulf

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Aside from the afternoon sea breeze, it looks as if the recent strong winds have finally subsided, which is great for fishing around Anna Maria Island.

The anticipation of tarpon fishing is on everyone’s minds, although the large groups of fish have yet to show. A few catches are being reported, mainly from the south around Venice and Siesta Key, but don’t be discouraged. With the weather pattern, it should only be a matter of days before the bite gets good.

Until then, fishing the flats is proving productive, especially for spotted seatrout. On my Southernaire charters, I’m finding limits of these fish attainable on a daily basis. Most are 15-20 inches, although bigger fish are mixed in for lucky anglers.

Redfish keepers and catch-and-release snook are being caught with some regularity. More so the snook than the reds. Shallow flats with clear water and good tidal flow are where I’m finding success with these fish. Live free-lined shiners on a 20-pound fluorocarbon leader are producing action.

Fishing wrecks and rock piles in the Gulf of Mexico is  producing a decent bite for me and my clients. Catch-and-release gag grouper 20-26 inches are a good way to wear out your arms.

Mangrove snapper and flounder are mixed in, which gives the angler a chance of having a nice meal at the end of the day.

Capt. Warren Girle is hunting offshore for mangrove snapper. Limits of these fish are being caught in depths of 40-60 feet of water. Mixed in with the snapper are juvenile grouper and Spanish mackerel.

Moving inshore, Girle is catching numerous spotted seatrout in Sarasota Bay. Live, free-lined shiners over deep flats are attracting the trout. Mixed in are bluefish and jack crevalle. Snook and redfish also are being caught while working Sarasota Bay on shallow flats where oyster bars and sandy potholes are present.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters also is hunting inshore for spotted seatrout. Respectable numbers of these fish are being found on deep grass flats. Most catches are 15-18 inches. Snook also are being caught inshore throughout shallow grass flats adjacent to mangrove shorelines. Catch-and-release linesiders are ranging 24-38 inches.

On the inshore reefs, Gross is hooking clients up with Spanish mackerel, flounder and a few snapper. Live shiners are producing the bite. Cobia sightings are occurring in these areas, too. To be prepared, Gross likes to have a heavier rod rigged with a buck-tail jig combined with an eel tail, in the event a cobia opportunity presents itself.

Capt. Jason Stock is working offshore with good results. Permit are the primary catch this week, with some fish weighing more than 20 pounds. Live crabs, free-lined and sight-casted to schooley fish on the surface is Stock’s technique to hook up with these popular wreck dwelling fish. Also while offshore, Stock is catching flounder, mangrove snapper and cobia.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is fishing offshore for a variety of species. Migratory fish — kingfish, Spanish mackerel, and blackfin tuna — are being attracted to the boat by flat-lining baits on the surface. Bottom fishing also is proving to be good for White’s clients for scamp, lane snapper and catch-and-release gags.

Moving inshore, White is hooking clients up with snook, redfish and spotted seatrout among the lush grass flats where tidal flow exists are holding these species. Fishing around docks is producing good results for mangrove snapper and sheepshead.

Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.