Tag Archives: fishing

Careful timing can put you on the trail of fish

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Thomas Hickey and wife Danielle, visiting from Columbus, Ohio, teamed up Jan. 10 on this nice 12-pound tripletail a few miles off of Egmont Key. It was hiding under a patch of floating grass when it ate the large shrimp on Hickey’s hook. The family also caught plenty of snapper, sheepshead and grunts for dinner on their charter trip with Capt. Aaron Lowman.
Thomas Hickey and wife Danielle, visiting from Columbus, Ohio, teamed up Jan. 10 on this nice 12-pound tripletail a few miles off of Egmont Key. It was hiding under a patch of floating grass when it ate the large shrimp on Hickey’s hook. The family also caught plenty of snapper, sheepshead and grunts for dinner on their charter trip with Capt. Aaron Lowman.
Nick, Adam, and Rob Seal of Burlington, Ontario, show off their limit of tripletail Jan. 10, caught on live, select shrimp as bait on a charter trip with Capt. David White.
Scott Willis, left, and dad, Mark, both of Bradenton, show off their tripletails from a Jan. 11 guided fishing trip with Capt. Danny Stasny, center, of Southernaire Fishing Charters.

Fishing around the barrage of cold fronts we are experiencing can be quite good — if you pick the right days.

You must pick your days. And you can pick your fish. But the days have to be the calm ones between cold fronts.

A lot of action is occurring, but it’s got to be calm in order to have a good experience out there. Big amberjack are being caught around the wrecks offshore, while hogfish, grunts and snappers are being taken around the ledges and artificial reefs.

Don’t forget about tripletail. As elusive and confusing as these fish can be to figure out, they can be simple to catch when you find them.

Speaking of tripletail, on my recent Southernaire charter, I found myself floating in and out of patches of thick fog as I patrolled one of the trap lines, giving everything a mysterious and eerie feeling. But let me tell you, the tripletail were in abundance. I couldn’t believe it. So, there I was, up in the tower cruising the trap line and literally stopping at almost every buoy.

Mark Willis and his son Scott, both of Bradenton, and their friend Chip Legassey of Harbour Isle on Perico Island were busy baiting up as we slowly approached the fish. Scott cast to the first fish, a 12-pounder, which immediately hit the bait. Scott tightened up and set the hook, letting the fish make a straight shot toward the boat. It spit the hook and slowly swam back to its buoy.

“Cast another bait in there!” I hollered down from up in the tower. Scott did just that and the fish hit again. We were cheering as Scott fought the fish to the boat.

Next, it was Chip’s turn. Same deal. We approached the buoy. Chip placed the bait perfectly in front of the fish and it ate the shrimp without hesitation. Chip quickly set the hook and cranked the tripletail boatside. This one fell just short of the 15-inch minimum and we gently put it back and watched it swim away.

The third fish, another big one — coming in at 10 pounds — was hooked by Mark. This stubborn fish took a few tries before it would take the bait. In fact, Mark cast so close to the buoy, the shrimp was flush against the trap line.

“I’m hung up,” Mark said.

“Let it sit. See if he’ll eat it off the line for you,” I replied. And sure enough, that’s what happened.

Drag peeled off Mark’s reel as the “crappie on steroids” turned sideways trying to get away. Persistently, Mark fought the fish until it was finally boat side, photographed, and in the cooler.

After a day like that, everyone was stoked. Instead of seeing double though, I guess you could say we were seeing triple.

Capt. Warren Girle is working charters inshore on the recent cold, windy days and, despite the conditions, he’s doing quite well. Targeting sheltered areas such as residential canals where seawalls and docks hold fish is proving to be an excellent choice for Girle’s anglers. Sheepshead, black drum and redfish are being caught frequently with a few flounder and catch-and-release snook in the mix, with live shrimp as the preferred bait.

On calmer days when venturing into Sarasota Bay is more welcoming, Girle is finding exceptional numbers of spotted seatrout and rallies of 50-60 fish.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is guiding anglers in the back bays, canals and creeks for shelter from the cold and wind. By doing so, he’s running across sheepshead and redfish, both indulging themselves on live shrimp. Casting around docks, rocks and bars is proving sufficient to locate the fish. Along the beaches, Lowman is finding pompano and plenty of whiting hungry for shrimp. On calm days, while in the Gulf of Mexico, tripletail are at the top of the menu.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters took advantage of a couple of calm days to venture offshore. The predominant bite — when you can get out there — is grunts, snappers, hogfish and tripletail, all readily taking live shrimp.

Moving into the bays, pompano and spotted seatrout are dominating the bite for White. Both species are showing interest in small jigs garnished with a piece of fresh-cut shrimp — especially the pompano.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing redfish being caught in respectable sizes and numbers. Slot- and over-slot reds are being caught by anglers willing to chill and wait for a bite. Live shrimp cast under the pier deck is yielding results. Mixed in with the redfish are sheepshead, black drum and flounder. On the calmer days, when the weather is warmer, bouncing a shrimp-tipped jig along the shore adjacent to the pier is resulting in a look from a pompano or two.

Capt. Jason Stock is patrolling offshore wrecks when the weather permits, where persistence pays off, especially for amberjack. Casting top-water plugs such as surface poppers in these areas is attracting AJs — the largest weighing in at 18 pounds. Yes, that’s right. Talk about some sore arms for the unsuspecting angler who reeled that one in. Aside from gigantic amberjack, goliath grouper are on Stock’s offshore agenda. Fish in the 100- to 200-pound range are the norm. Go big or go home, cappy.

            For more of the past week’s fishing photos, go to www.islander.org.

Unseasonable chill cools off fishing action for area anglers

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Jack Reibel, visiting Anna Maria Island from Charlotte, North Carolina, shows off a 32-inch snook he caught on a live shiner Dec. 29, 2017, while on a charter fishing trip with Capt. David White.
Matt, Morgan, Connie, Stacy and Ken Perkinson, all visiting Anna Maria Island from Atlanta, show off some of their catch from a day of fishing Dec. 26 in Sarasota Bay. They relied on Capt. Warren Girle to guide them to the redfish and bluefish.

Due to the recent arctic blast we experienced to start off 2018, there’s really not a lot of fishing going on.

With temperatures and the chill factor ranging from the 30s to the 50s, most anglers in our area were staying indoors. Not many folks were venturing out on the water looking for a bite.

I did manage to see quite a few mullet fishermen braving the harsh cold and windy conditions, casting their nets around a big pay check.

As for the recreational anglers, this was a good week to take a break and get the gear fine tuned.

I pulled my boat out of the water and trailered it home for some needed TLC and maintenance.

But, I’ll tell you, staying away from the water for too long never sits well with me.

The cold weather sent me off to walk some of the local piers, checking out the action. On one occasion, I ran into a buddy of mine, Jesse Ferguson. He had the week off from work and was determined to fish no matter what the weather predictors had in store. And, sure enough, it paid off for him.

As I said “Hi” to him, I glanced over the edge of the pier to see his stringer filled with sheepshead and a hefty redfish. Just goes to show what a little local knowledge and determination can do for you. Good job, Jesse.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says despite the weather and 25-knot winds, some anglers were willing to venture out on the pier to find a bite. Those using live shrimp as bait were catching an occasional sheepshead or black drum. A few flounder also were in the mix for the hearty fishers at the north end.

Capt. Aaron Lowman, prior to the cold snap, was fishing nearshore reefs and rock piles with good results. By using live shrimp as bait, Lowman was managing to attract a variety of fish to the hook — sheepshead, mangrove snapper, flounder and Key West grunts. Moving out to offshore structure such as ledges and wrecks, Lowman was putting his clients on hogfish, lane snapper and kingfish.

Capt. Warren Girle was working offshore with good results for his clients prior to the cold front. Catch-and-release gag grouper were quick to find the bait when fishing in depths of 40-50 feet of water. Also in these areas, Girle’s anglers had hookups on mangrove snapper, Key West grunts and a couple of hogfish.

On the flats of Sarasota Bay, Girle was able to muster up a decent spotted seatrout bite by baiting up some live shrimp under a popping cork. On a couple of morning charters, Girle counted as many as 50 trout reeled to the boat. Mixed in with the trout were numerous bluefish and a few pompano.

Capt. Jason Stock, prior to the Florida blizzard, was running some great fishing sessions offshore. Amberjack, kingfish and permit were being found around offshore wrecks. Fishing reefs and hard bottom offshore was resulting in catch-and-release gag grouper, mangrove snapper and goliath grouper.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters was doing well both offshore and on the flats before the cold weather arrived. While offshore, red grouper, mangrove and lane snapper, barracuda and amberjack were in abundance. On the flats, big catch-and-release snook seemed to dominate the bite for White’s clients. While targeting the catch-and-release snook, White’s anglers also managed to put a few nice redfish in the cooler.

Lastly, pompano and permit were being found on deep grass flats while using shrimp-tipped jigs for bait.

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

Mild winter temps produce stellar fishing action

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Mary Allen Murray of Bradenton and Alan Brown, visiting Anna Maria Island from Maryland, show off a pair of pompano they caught using live shrimp on a Dec. 27 charter with Capt. Danny Stasny.
Tom Young of Pennsylvania shows off a 15-pound kingfish caught Dec. 22 on a guided fishing trip with Capt. Aaron Lowman. Young had a live blue runner for bait. Lowman said Young and his group also caught a mess of hogfish, mangrove snappers and red grouper.
Matt, Morgan, Connie, Stacy and Ken Perkinson, all visiting Anna Maria Island from Atlanta, show off some of their catch from a day of fishing Dec. 26 in Sarasota Bay. They relied on Capt. Warren Girle to guide them to the redfish and bluefish.

For yet another week, mild temperatures and stellar fishing conditions make the little paradise we call Anna Maria Island attractive to visiting and local anglers alike.

Fishing nearshore and offshore is producing a variety of species, ranging from bottom dwellers — grouper, snapper and hogfish — to migratory fish — cobia, amberjack, kings and tuna.

Things are sure to change soon when old man winter blows the cold weather down from the north. But until they do, it’s time to celebrate where we live and our easy access to the beautiful emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

On my Southernaire charters, I’m cashing in on the light winds and calm seas. Venturing out to the 40-50 foot depths is resulting in numerous catches fit for a fish fry. Key West grunts — the most abundant — are taking shrimp. Mangrove and lane snapper, gag grouper and hogfish are being reeled up with frequency. And, when we get tired of bottom fishing, there is an abundance of kingfish on the surface to keep us occupied. There’s great action for wintertime fishing in west-central Florida.

Moving inshore, I’m finding pompano and permit along channel edges and deeper grass flats and fresh-cut shrimp added to a pink jig is like candy for both species. The hardest part is finding these fish but, once you do, it’s game on.

Have a happy new year and keep your lines tight!

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says determined anglers are finding a few sheepshead and some black drum with shrimp on their hooks. With water temps in the 60-70 degree range, there are mangrove snapper to be caught. Fishing early morning, when the bait schools are present at the pier, is producing Spanish mackerel and ladyfish.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is heading offshore for a variety of fish. Fishing ledges and hard bottom is leading to bent rods with Key West grunts, hogfish, gag grouper and snapper at the end of the line. In the same areas are king mackerel and a few bonito. Porgies and flounder are being taken by some lucky anglers. Moving inshore, Lowman is targeting sheepshead, black drum and redfish around residential docks and canals.

Capt. Warren Girle is taking his anglers offshore with good results. Using live shrimp as bait is producing good-eating species — the most predominant bites from Key West grunts, mangrove and lane snapper. Hogfish and big gag grouper are rounding out the bite. Kingfish are present offshore for anglers looking for drag-screaming action.

Moving inshore, Girle is hooking numerous redfish on fresh-cut chunks of ladyfish. He also said catch-and-release snook fishing is productive. Lastly spotted seatrout and bluefish are being caught on the deeper flats.

Capt. Jason Stock is working offshore when the seas are calm and the winds are down. While fishing reefs and wrecks, Stock is encountering a variety of fish, including red and gag grouper, amberjack, permit and kingfish. Goliath grouper are present in these areas for anglers who think they have the strength to pull one up from the depths.

While in transit from spot to spot, Stock is spotting tripletail around floating debris. Casting live shrimp to these fish can result in an instant hookup.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is on beach patrol in search of kingfish. Cruising along within a mile of shore, White is finding numerous kings in the 25-pound class. Slow-trolling threadfin herring or anchoring and chumming with live shiners is attracting a bite.

On the flats of Sarasota and Tampa bays, White is finding over-slot redfish, catch-and-release snook and plenty of keeper-size trout. Structure in the bay is holding sheepies, according to White, which are readily taking shrimp. Lastly, pompano are being caught on shrimp-tipped jigs along the edges of the flats and along sandbars.

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

Fishing between cold fronts brings on winter bounty

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Rick and Ralph Platz of Canada and Rachel and Kieran McSweeny from the United Kingdom show off their Dec. 20 catch. Using shrimp, they caught numerous gags and hog snapper with Capt. Warren Girle.
Nick and Kiersten Percoski show off some of the keeper gag grouper they caught in 45 feet of water off Anna Maria Island while fishing aboard the Reel Cortez with Capt. Philip Watson.

Once again fishing the calm weather before the cold front is supplying excellent fishing experiences for the fishers of Anna Maria Island.

Venturing into the Gulf of Mexico seems to be the ticket for the most consistent action.

Bottom fishing around ledges, reefs, wrecks and hard bottom is resulting in a variety of species, including Key West grunts, hogfish, gag grouper, amberjack, kingfish and tuna.

Also present are a variety of snappers — mangrove, lane, vermillion and yellowtail. Most catches are occurring on live bait, such as shrimp and shiners, although artificials — surface poppers and lipped plugs — are drawing a bite, especially for migratory fish like kings, tunas and amberjack.

In the back country, live shiners free-lined under a cork are attracting spotted seatrout, bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Fishing over deep grass flats seems to produce the most action for these fish.

In the bays, casting shrimp around residential docks and seawalls is resulting in sheepshead, black drum, redfish and flounder.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing a wintertime pattern developing as we begin to experience cold fronts sweeping down from the north. Pier fishers using shrimp as bait are catching a variety of fish, including black drum, sheepshead and redfish. Those fishers casting jigs are hooking into pompano, but the bite is sporadic.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is running charters to the nearshore structure in the Gulf of Mexico for a variety of species. Hogfish, snappers, flounder, kingfish and gag grouper are being found where ledges or hard bottom exist. In the bays, Lowman is working around structure, although residential docks and seawalls make up the environment. In these areas, redfish, black drum and sheepshead are the primary catch. Live shrimp on a knocker rig is proving to work the best as bait.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business is fishing offshore for catch-and-release amberjack. Free-lining live shiners over reefs and wrecks is luring these “reef donkeys” to the hook. After wearing out his clients on big jacks, Gross is hunting kingfish. Again, free-lined shiners are resulting in bent rods and sore arms for Gross’ clients. Lastly, Gross is anchoring over structure and having clients drop shiners to the bottom. This results in catches of mangrove snapper up to 5 pounds.

Capt. Warren Girle is taking clients to an offshore structure with good results. Numerous snapper — lane, vermillion and mangrove — are being reeled up. Also present on offshore structure are hogfish, gag grouper and kingfish. Live shrimp and shiners are the preferred baits. Moving onto the flats of Sarasota Bay, Girle is targeting spotted seatrout, bluefish and mackerel.

All three species are being taken by using live shiners as bait or artificials such as soft plastics on a jig head.

Capt. Jason Stock is patrolling offshore for a variety of fish, including kingfish, blackfin tuna and amberjack. All three species are being taken on surface poppers that are quickly retrieved across the surface of the water. Bait fishing around ledges and reefs is producing action on mangrove and yellowtail snapper, as well as some keeper-size gag grouper.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is fishing inshore throughout the bays and Intracoastal Waterway. While using shrimp as bait, White is finding good action around structure — artificial reefs and residential docks. Sheepshead and black drum are the primary species being caught, although a few flounder are mixed in. Switching to live shiners as bait is proving to be good over deep grass flats. Spotted seatrout, bluefish and macks are ready to take the bait in these areas.

Capt. Philip Watson of Reel Cortez Charters out of the Seafood Shack Restaurant and Marina is taking clients offshore to depths of 40-55 feet. Using live pinfish, frozen threadfins and live shrimp for bait is resulting in gag and red grouper, mangrove and yellowtail snapper and a variety of other table fare for his clients.

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

A string of windy days puts damper on fishing

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Don Woody of the Washington, D.C., area shows off the nice redfish caught on a charter fishing trip with Capt. Aaron Lowman just after a cold front Dec. 13. Woody caught a few redfish around some schools of mullet on the flats, a mess of trout up to 22 inches and a handful of snook, all on live shiners.
Nick Cinelli of Bradenton shows off a Tampa Bay gag grouper caught Dec. 15 on a live pinfish while on a guided fishing trip with Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters.
Mathew Gritter of Michigan, visiting his dad, Doug Gritter of Bradenton, fished Sarasota Bay the afternoon of Dec. 16 and caught trout, blue fish and flounder using shrimp for bait. He was guided by Capt. Warren Girle.

Fishing around Anna Maria Island is challenging with back-to-back windy days.

Finding sheltered areas on these days is the real test if you’re trying to bend a rod. One good place to look is the canals, where numerous docks harbor fish. Casting live shrimp around pilings and under docks is a good way to attract interest from redfish, drum, sheepshead or flounder.

Try fishing the back bays where mangroves are growing adjacent to deep water, such as a channel. Lots of times this deeper water keeps a slightly more consistent temperature, which can attract fish — especially snook. Try a free-lined select shrimp in an area like this and see what happens.

Lastly, jigging the passes for pompano should start producing a bite. You will encounter other fish, such as bluefish, ladyfish and jack crevalle, which can provide a fun morning for just about any angler.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing the usual suspects being reeled up by wintertime anglers. Live shrimp as bait is attracting sheepshead, black drum, redfish and flounder. Despite some rough waters and windy days, Malfese is seeing a few Spanish mackerel being caught, but only when schools of baitfish are present.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is taking charters to fish around nearshore reefs when the winds are light and the seas calm. When using shiners as bait, Lowman is encountering kingfish, macks and bonito. Fishing around ledges and hard bottom also is producing a bite for Lowman. Using shrimp as bait in these areas is resulting in mangrove snapper, hogfish, gag grouper and flounder.

Capt. Warren Girle is fishing the flats of Sarasota Bay for redfish. Slot and over-slot reds are being caught on shallow grass flats where oyster bars and sandy potholes are present. For bait, either live shiners or fresh-cut pieces of ladyfish are working. On deeper grass flats in the middle of the bay, Girle is putting clients on spotted seatrout, as well as a variety of other fish, including jack crevalle, ladyfish and bluefish. These fish are being caught on shiners and artificials, including Berkley Gulp shrimp on a jig head.

Capt. Jason Stock is working offshore on the calm days. Venturing offshore to reefs, wrecks and hard bottom is producing kingfish, amberjack and gag grouper for his clients. For the kings and AJs, Stock is using artificials, such as surface poppers, to attract a bite. As for the gags, a live pinfish dropped to the bottom on a weighted rig is deadly. Moving inshore to the flats, Stock is putting charter fishers on gator trout on top-water plugs and soft plastics combined with a jig head.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is dock fishing along the Intracoastal Waterway and the connecting bays and rivers. Casting shrimp under docks and other structure is resulting in black drum, sheepshead and mangrove snapper.

Using pinfish around the channel edges and bridges is producing a few gag grouper for White’s anglers. Lastly, casting jigs along the edges of grass flats is triggering a pompano bite here and there.

 

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

Island-area anglers find fishing hot prior to cold front

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Vince and Neda Uliano of Pennsylvania show off a redfish, caught Dec. 6 in Sarasota Bay. They caught several nice redfish using shiners as bait, but kept only one fish for dinner to promote conservation. They were guided to the fish by Capt. Warren Girle.

Fishing prior to the cold front that blew through the area Dec. 10-11 was producing excellent action for Anna Maria Island anglers.

Fishing the flats has been good for redfish, spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook. Snook season ended Dec. 1.

Inshore fishing around docks and shallow water structure is providing action on sheepshead, snapper and gag grouper.

Those willing to venture into the Gulf of Mexico are being rewarded with variety, including migratory species — blackfin tuna, kingfish, amberjack and bonito. Bottom-fishing while offshore is producing red grouper, mangrove snapper, hogfish, flounder and Key West grunts.

On my own charters for Southernaire, I’m finding great action within 9 miles of shore. During the calmer days, when the seas are smooth, I’m fishing ledges and hard-bottom areas. By baiting with live shrimp, my clients are reeling up gag and red grouper, hogfish, lane and mangrove snapper, as well as triggerfish and Key West grunts.

While working the flats with live shiners for bait, I’m finding the catch-and-release snook fishing exhilarating for my clients. Snook up to 30 inches are taking the hook, although most are 22-26 inches. Spotted seatrout and bluefish also are being caught on the flats — in abundance.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says pier fishers using live shrimp for bait are catching black drum, sheepshead, flounder and an occasional redfish. As happens every year, Malfese says that since snook season closed, linesiders have shown up in great numbers. Live shiners, pinfish and ladyfish are working for the catch-and release snook.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is fishing the Gulf of Mexico for a variety of species. On calm days, bottom-fishing around ledges is producing hogfish, snappers and gag grouper. For these fish, Lowman is using either live shrimp or pinfish. Also present are kingfish and bonito. Live shiners are the bait of choice for these guys. While en route to his offshore spots, Lowman is putting clients on numerous triple tail. Casting live shrimp to these fish is resulting in a bite.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business is working nearshore and on the flats. Kingfish and bonito are providing good action for Gross’ clients in 40 feet of water around the artificial reefs. Most kings are in the 10-pound range, while fish up to 30 pounds are mixed in. On the flats, catch-and-release snook are in abundance, as well as spotted seatrout, bluefish and a few redfish.

Capt. Warren Girle is targeting the flats of Sarasota Bay for redfish. Girle is locating schooling reds, which provide an excellent bite for his clients. Redfish 20-30 inches are being caught on live free-lined shiners and fresh-cut chunks of ladyfish. Also present around the redfish schools are catch-and-release snook. On the deeper grass flats of Sarasota Bay, Girle is hooking up clients with numerous spotted seatrout, as well as bluefish, ladyfish and jack crevalle.

Fishing offshore is resulting in keeper-size gag grouper and mangrove snapper for Girle. Both are being taken by combining live shiners with a bottom rig. Fishing ledges and artificial reefs is a good place to start.

Capt. Jason Stock is working offshore for a variety of species. While patrolling offshore reefs and wrecks, Stock is putting clients on numerous kingfish and amberjack. Using artificials, such as surface poppers, is providing excellent action. Bottom-fishing with live bait, such as shiners and pinfish, is attracting attention from flounder up to 22 inches, as well as snapper and grouper. Dropping live baits — such as jack crevalle — to the bottom is resulting in a monster hookup — goliath grouper — a catch-and-release photo trophy.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters was taking advantage of the nice weather ahead of the cold front. On these calm days, White is venturing offshore in search of a variety of species, including blackfin tuna, amberjack, gag grouper, hogfish and red grouper.

Moving inshore, he’s using shrimp as bait to put clients on sheepshead and black drum. Spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook also are being caught using live shiners as bait.

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

Pleasant fall weather promises all-around good fishing

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Tom Hooker of Tampa shows off a bluefish caught Nov. 25. The fish, caught on a fly, crushed the topwater popper. Hooker was guided by Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters.
Roger Danziger shows off his catch at the dock from a day’s fishing, an African pompano and 30-inch gag grouper caught Dec. 2 while fishing 38 miles off Holmes Beach in 128 feet of water.

Fishing around Anna Maria Island is as pleasant as the weather.

With a light easterly breeze and calm seas, both inshore and offshore adventures are promising. Fishing inshore around the bays and Manatee River is providing good action on spotted seatrout and snook. Redfish — especially around docks and canals — are plentiful. Live bait such as shiners and shrimp — both readily available — are getting the most attention, although lead-head jigs combined with soft plastics also are producing.

Moving offshore, gag grouper are being found around the artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico, where Spanish mackerel, kingfish and bonito also are present. Moving out to about 7 miles, around reefs and ledges, is resulting in action on blackfin tuna, cobia and amberjack.

On my Southernaire charters, I’m finding decent action on redfish around bayfront docks and in the canals. Casting select shrimp under the docks is yielding redfish up to 22 inches. Black drum, flounder and sheepshead also are being taken in this fashion.

On warm days, fishing the flats for trout and snook is resulting in good action. Most snook being caught are just under slot. As for the trout, slot-size and under-slot fish are mixed together. While targeting the trout, I’m also seeing bluefish, jacks and mackerel on the hook.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says fishers using shrimp as bait are hooking into a variety of species. Combining the shrimp with a bottom rig and casting it under the pier deck is attracting redfish, black drum and even a few early-season sheepshead.

Simply free-lining shrimp and casting them out from the pier is resulting in catches of jack crevalle, ladyfish and an occasional pompano.

Lastly, using live pinfish and shiners as bait is a good bet for targeting snook, and Malfese says keeper fish are being caught.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is following the snook bite as it moves from the beaches and passes to the back bays and rivers and casting live shiners among these fish is triggering a response for his clients. Spotted seatrout are being caught in the bays and rivers on both live shiners and artificials, such as the DOA shrimp. In the deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Lowman is seeing a variety of species, including tripletail, hogfish, gag grouper and mangrove snapper.

Capt. Warren Girle is working the nearshore structure with good results. By using live bait — pinfish and shiners — Girle’s clients are attracting keeper-size gag grouper to the hook. Also around structure, Girle’s clients are hooking into macks and a few kingfish.

On the flats, snook, redfish and spotted seatrout are being taken on live shiners and artificials, such as soft plastics on a jig head. While targeting the trout, Girle also is hooking clients up with bluefish and macks.

Capt. Jason Stock is taking advantage of the light breezes from the east and venturing offshore. Fishing around the wrecks in the Gulf is providing good action on kingfish, blackfin tuna, amberjack and cobia. Fishing around ledges and reefs is producing bent rods — especially on gag grouper and some big mangrove snapper.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is finding good action inshore on windy days by fishing canals and docks. Black drum and sheepshead are dominating this bite. Pompano also are being found inshore on deeper grass flats. Jigs tipped with shrimp are the key to success, says White. On the warmer days, White is putting clients on some good snook action, as well as a few redfish and spotted seatrout on the flats. Moving into the Gulf, the reefs and wrecks are proving to be good for gag grouper and kingfish on White’s charter trips.

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

Various weather conditions result in varied catches

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Sarah Hutchison, visiting Anna Maria Island from Rogers, Arkansas, didn’t need to take her vacation in the Florida Keys or the Bahamas to hook up a fighting bonefish. She found her catch in Sarasota Bay on a charter fishing trip with Capt. Danny Stasny of Southernaire Fishing. Islander Courtesy Photo
Donnie and Don Sisson, a father and son fishing team from Colorado, show off their Nov. 17 inshore catch of spotted seatrout and snook, hooked in Sarasota Bay using shiners for bait. They were guided to the fish by Capt. Warren Girle, who reminds anglers the current season for snook winds up this month.

Fishing around Anna Maria Island is “all over the charts.”

Fishing warm, mild days before cold fronts is proving to be on the exceptional side, while fishing during and shortly after the fronts is yielding mediocre catches — and discouraged anglers.

Snook action is occurring when the sun shines bright and warms things up and the tides are moving swiftly. On my Southernaire charters, we had some days of 40-plus snook to the boat in less than an hour and a half. Even the redfish couldn’t resist hitting a free-lined shiner on those days.

Venturing out to the reefs on calm days has proved prosperous for kingfish and Spanish mackerel. Numerous kings in the 36-inch range were nothing short of hectic on the backwater spinning gear we were using. An ample supply of shiners in the bait well was critical to keep chumming up interest among the kings.

On mornings where the temperature was 55 degrees and the wind was blowing 20 mph, the fishing can be a “reality check” at best. I catch myself saying, “You’re not as good as you thought you were” on those days. Still, I am managing to scrape up some redfish from under the docks by using live shrimp on a knocker rig. Spotted seatrout are staying somewhat clumsy around my hooks on those cooler days, although the tide has been moving pretty good for them to commit.

Capt. Warren Girle is targeting a variety of backwater species in Sarasota Bay. Snook, redfish and spotted seatrout are at the top of his list, while jack crevalle, ladyfish and blue fish also are coming to the hook. Live shiners or pinfish as bait are preferred, although Berkley Gulp shrimp on a jighead is yielding results.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is working in Tampa Bay south to Sarasota Bay. He’s finding spotted seatrout are the most prevalent species, while snook and redfish also are present. Spanish mackerel, bluefish and jack crevalle are mixed in when fishing deeper grass flats. Live shiners as bait are working for his clients, although live shrimp are attracting a redfish bite when dock fishing.

Gag grouper are another species popular on Lowman’s boat this past week. Trolling around structure is producing keeper-sized fish.

Capt. Jason Stock is running charters offshore when the winds are calm from the east. In the 4-mile range, Stock is targeting Spanish mackerel and kingfish. Live, free-lined shiners are attracting the attention of macks, as well as — surprise — tarpon. Not bad for mackerel fishing, huh? Other fish being caught out there include tripletail and hogfish.

In the bay, Stock is managing to put clients on some respectable-sized gag grouper.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is fishing nearshore structure with good results. By trolling Rapala XRAPS over reefs and wrecks, White’s clients are hooking into some nice gag grouper. According to White, live pinfish are attracting gags while at anchor. Free-lining these “pinnies” down to the bottom is certain death for the unsuspecting bait. Hefty mangrove snapper also are being caught on the live pinfish. When using shiners as bait on the flats, White is finding slot-size snook on the end of his line. Numerous schooley-sized fish are being caught, too.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing the arrival of many of the usual suspects, bottom-dwelling species — and I’m not taking about the fishers. Flounder, black drum and redfish are being caught by anglers using live shrimp as bait. A weighted rig consisting of an egg sinker, a swivel, some leader and a hook is ideal to anchor a feisty little shrimp on the sandy bottom, precisely where it’s convenient for a hungry bottom fish. Shrimp fishers may also encounter sheepshead, small snook, juvenile grouper and bait-stealing pinfish.

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

When northeast winds blow, choose the right spot to fish

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Glenn Wattley of Marstons Mills, Massachusetts, shows off a 21-inch flounder he caught Nov. 16 while fishing with Capt. Danny Stasny of Southernaire Fishing Charters.
Brian Tayerle from Mantua, Ohio, caught this nice kingfish Nov. 13, using a live threadfin Herring while fishing with Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters.
The Brasseale family of Evansville, Indiana, shows off their fall mixed bag of hogfish, tripletail and kingfish, caught while on their Thanksgiving break on a fishing trip with Capt. Jason Stock.

The constant northeast winds blowing at 10-20 mph are excellent for someone who wants to fly a kite.

Unfortunately, this is an article about fishing, not kite flying. But don’t be discouraged. The winds are out of the northeast, which usually means most of the bays, the Intracoastal Waterway and waters along the beaches can be fairly calm.

In fact, the fishing is nothing short of excellent. You have some options, or let’s say variety, on what to target.

Fishing the flats is producing some great snook action, as well as spotted seatrout and a few redfish. Flounder and pompano are being taken on the flats and in the local bays. If you’re on the hunt for larger fish, venture out along the beaches to find kingfish, cobia and shark. You also may encounter bonito, Spanish mackerel and triple tail on your search.

On my recent Southernaire excursions, I’ve been taking advantage of the vast quantities of snook settling onto the flats. The fish know that winter is just around the corner, which means they are aggressive in eating just about every bait that passes in front of their noses. Most catches are 20-26 inches, although keeper fish are being caught by some lucky anglers.

Also while on the flats, I’m seeing a variety of other species being reeled in by my clients, including spotted seatrout, flounder and pompano.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing numerous black drum, sheepshead and flounder being caught at Anna Maria Island’s northernmost pier.

Fishers using live shrimp on a bottom rig are finding success. There are redfish and snook being caught, although not with the frequency of the black drum, sheepies and flounder. Finally, anglers using artificials — jigs or spoons — are hooking into ladyfish and Spanish mackerel.

Capt. Aaron Lowman was bay fishing on windy days. He reports spotted seatrout are plentiful, with catches up to 20 inches. Mixed in are bluefish, ladyfish and jack crevalle. Snook are a good bet for bay fishers. Most catches are under-slot, but some anglers are reeling in a keeper fish now and again. Fishing nearshore structure is proving to be good for a variety of fish, including hogfish, gag grouper and mangrove snapper.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business is having a great week on the water. Despite the wind, Gross is catching a variety of species. On the flats, snook, spotted seatrout and bluefish are being caught in abundance by Gross’ clients. Also making an appearance on the flats are pompano. Moving into the Gulf of Mexico is producing good action on macks and kingfish. All species are being taken by using live shiners as bait — except for the pompano.

Gross is using Doc’s goofy jigs and other small jigs to produce this bite.

Capt. Warren Girle reports he’s running charters nearshore for kingfish and macks. Both species are being taken via live shiners as bait. For either species, anchoring and chumming is proving effective, although slow-trolling baits, especially for the kingfish, is a good option. While targeting these fish, Girle is encountering bonito and shark and, moving to the flats of Sarasota Bay, he’s putting clients on numerous spotted seatrout, snook and large bluefish.

Capt. Jason Stock is working both offshore and nearshore for a variety of fish. Fishing around structure is resulting in kingfish and cobia. Both are being caught on threadfin herring and pinfish. Artificials such as surface poppers are triggering these fish to bite. Stock is putting clients on tripletail in the offshore waters where casting live shrimp or shiners to will do the trick. Moving inshore into Tampa Bay, Stock is finding a good bite on gag grouper.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is fishing along the beaches of Anna Maria Island for migratory species, including Spanish mackerel, kingfish and bonito. For the macks and kings, large live shiners as bait are a “no-brainer.” Free-lining or slow-trolling the bait is producing action. As for the bonito, White is having his fly-fishing clients cast streamer flies to these football-shaped fish. Moving inshore, snook and trout are rounding out the flats bite. Again, free-lined medium shiners are the ticket to success.

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

Cooler nights, moderate days provide fishers hot action

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Peter Martinez, visiting from New Jersey, and friend Mario Garcia from Miami fished offshore Nov. 9 with Capt. Warren Girle. They reeled up a nice reward of kingfish and snapper using live bait.

Fall fishing around Anna Maria Island is getting better and better as we experience cool overnight temperatures, moderate days and calm waters.

As a result of the two cold fronts we recently experienced, the waters have cooled down just enough to trigger fish to start feeding and fatten up for winter.

Fishing offshore is proving to be quite productive, as many reports of gag and red grouper are coming from the guides. Migratory species — kingfish, mackerel, bonito, cobia and blackfin tuna — are being reported.

And on the flats, the snook bite is nothing short of exceptional. Live free-lined shiners are quickly being devoured by hungry snook in preparation for winter. Redfish and spotted seatrout are proving to be a worthwhile venture. And lastly, rumors of pompano are being reported — keep a couple of shrimp-tipped jigs handy.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is working offshore for a variety of species. Cobia and blackfin tuna highlight the offshore bite for anglers fishing live baits on the surface. Those fishing with bottom rigs are being rewarded with numerous red and gag grouper.

Moving inshore, White says fishing for bonito along the beaches is productive. Fly fishers especially like to hook these little football-shaped fish just for their sheer power and fight.

On the flats, snook are the predominant bite. Live shiners under a cork or free-lined are quickly devoured by hungry linesiders.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says the fishing and the weather at the pier is about as good as it gets. Anglers using live shrimp as bait are catching a multitude of species, including redfish, black drum and sheepshead. Pompano are being taken via live shrimp. Anglers using live lures, such as jigs and spoons, are catching ladyfish, macks and jacks until their arms are worn out.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is targeting the large bait schools, which are gathering anywhere from a few hundred yards from the beach to a few miles offshore. These large schools of bait fish attract predators — Spanish mackerel, kingfish, bonito and sharks.

Moving to the flats, Lowman is finding an exceptional spotted seatrout bite during the strong phases of the tide. Live free-lined shiners are producing the best action. Snook are abundant on the flats and the best bite, again, is occurring on strong tides.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is taking anglers to fish the flats of Tampa Bay for snook. Free-lining live shiners over shallow grass flats during the morning tides is producing respectable numbers of catch-and-release sized snook. Spotted seatrout also are being found on the flats, along with ladyfish and pompano.

Fishing in depths of 10 feet or more throughout Tampa Bay is producing a great bite on Spanish mackerel. Finding schools of bait is key to locating these high-speed fish, and casting live baits or silver spoons is attracting the bite.

Capt. Jason Stock is spending his days offshore, thanks to the mild weather and calm seas. Using top-water plugs, such as large poppers, around wrecks and reefs is resulting in some explosive action on amberjack and cobia. Blackfin tuna and kingfish are present in these areas, too.

As for bottom fishing, gag grouper is the highlight this week for Stock’s clients.

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