Tag Archives: fishing

Weather cools, but old man winter can’t chill AMI fishing

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Steve Kline of Harbour Isles on Perico Island shows off his 35-inch catch-and-release linesider, caught Jan. 4 on a guided fishing trip with Capt. Danny Stasny of Southernaire Fishing Charters.
Gabe Owens, visiting from Delray, Ohio, starts off the new year with a smoker kingfish, caught Jan. 1 using a sardine in about 45 feet of water offshore of Anna Maria Island. Owens and his family caught their limit of kings, plus grouper and snapper, while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me the Fish Charters.
Kevin Hendrickson, left, and Ray Platz from Anna Maria show off two of the lucky hogfish snapper they reeled up Friday the 13th, Jan. 13, on a guided trip offshore with Capt. Warren Girle.

The cool down we’re experiencing might be enough to put us into a winter-fishing pattern.

Most local anglers who fish inshore are migrating toward local canals and docks in search of a bite, because the waters in these sheltered areas are a few degrees warmer than open waters. This warmth attracts the fish. Snook, redfish, black drum, snapper and sheepshead all gravitate toward these areas, even if the waters are only a degree or two warmer. If you’re lucky, you may stumble upon a large concentration of fish at one dock when there’s only a nibble at another.

Also, certain canals and specific docks will hold fish year after year. So go out, do your homework and try to keep a record of your spots for the next fishing trip.

Following the pattern, Capt. Aaron Lowman is working inshore around residential docks and canals. By using live shrimp as bait, Lowman is putting his clients on a fair share of fish. Casting live shrimp under docks is resulting in sheepshead, black drum and redfish. Also, an occasional flounder or catch-and-release snook is taking the hook.

Fishing along the beaches is resulting in a bite. Jack crevalle, blue runners and especially pompano are being caught on Lowman’s boat by using small jigs tipped with shrimp.

Capt. Warren Girle is working offshore on days when the seas are calm. By fishing ledges and hard bottom, he’s finding a bounty of catch-and-release gag grouper. Although it’s a shame to have to throw back these tasty fish, anglers are enjoying the sheer veracity of their fight once hooked. Girle’s clients are hooking into mangrove snapper, porgies and Key West grunts as they fish the ledges.

Moving inshore, Girle’s fishing canals and docks to find warmer water. In these areas, casting live shrimp is proving to produce the best action. Redfish and catch-and-release snook are the most likely to bite, although black drum, sheepshead and mangrove snapper are taking the hook.

Capt. Jason Stock is running inshore on days when the wind is blowing. By fishing the flats of Sarasota Bay and beyond, Stock is finding spotted seatrout and redfish for his clients. Canals and docks as well as deeper flats are hot spots for Stock and live pinfish and shrimp are his baits of choice.

Moving offshore on calm seas, Stock is catching many catch-and-release gag grouper. In the same areas, he’s finding flounder, porgies and mangrove snapper. Amberjack are present offshore, which can be quite entertaining for local and visiting anglers.

Steve Leonard at the Rod & Reel Pier says sheepshead are beginning to make a showing. Although it’s still a little early for large concentrations of sheepies to appear, pier anglers are reeling up a few to take home for dinner. Live shrimp are producing a bite as well as small crabs, sand fleas and tubeworms. Mixed in with the sheepshead bite are black drum, redfish and flounder.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is fishing inshore along the Intracoastal Waterway and the local bays. Fishing around the area bridges is proving to be good for mangrove snapper and a few sheepshead. Also, fishing deeper potholes on the flats for redfish and black drum is providing White’s anglers with some action. Live shrimp is White’s bait of choice.

Fishing offshore for amberjack is a good bet on calmer days, when White is finding a variety of fish, including amberjack, bonito and a few kings.

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

Red hot fishing for January start, followed by cold front

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It was a lucky day on the water Dec. 30 for Hanna Fitter of Indiana. Just as grouper season was running out, she landed a nice one. She made the best of her offshore charter using shrimp and shiners for bait as Capt. Warren Girle also guided her to a nice flounder and several snapper.

With mild weather lingering around Anna Maria Island in early January, anglers were enjoying perfect conditions on the water and great fishing.

A weekend cold front brought a quick drop in temperatures and choppy waters, but we will see a quick return to better conditions for anglers.

Meanwhile, before the front, fishers from offshore were boasting of amberjack, cobia and kingfish. The inshore bite was holding its own with catches of redfish, spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook. Sheepshead and black drum were gathering around residential docks and there were rumors of pompano are popping up, according to beach fishers.

It was almost as though “old man winter” might have forgotten about us this year.

For Southernaire Charters, I’m concentrating on the inshore bite. The catch-and-release snook fishing is proving to be some of the best there is on the flats. Who would’ve thought we’d be free-lining live shiners for snook in January?

You don’t see me complaining. And my clients aren’t either.

Rallies of snook are occurring on the afternoon incoming tides, with most catches being schooley fish, 20-26 inches.

Residential docks and canals are host to a variety of fish. I’m casting live shrimp on a 1/2-ounce knocker rig around pilings and seawalls, resulting in redfish, black drum, sheepshead and mangrove snapper. We’re even hooking into a few catch-and-release snook this way. I frequently reserve these areas for windy days when fishing in open waters can be difficult, but any day is good.

Finally, casting shrimp or jigs along the beaches of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key is resulting in pompano and permit. Both bites are sporadic, but there’s always a chance at hitting “the mother lode.” When these rallies occur, anglers get to experience some of the best light-tackle fishing our area offers.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is working nearshore and offshore structure, resulting in a variety of species for his clients. By fishing around hard bottom and ledges in 30-60 feet of water, Lowman is leading clients to plenty of fish to take home for dinner. Using live shrimp as bait, combined with a 1-ounce knocker rig, is resulting in hogfish, porgies, white grunts and mangrove snapper. Also in the mix are juvenile and red grouper up to 18 inches.

Moving inshore, Lowman is fishing along the beaches for pompano, permit and other species. Live shrimp are working well as bait. Sheepshead, black drum and flounder are being taken along the shore of Anna Maria Island and beyond.

Welcome to 2017, great weather, fishing all around AMI

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Jaqueline Brasseale of Evansville, Indiana, shows off a hefty hogfish she caught while fishing offshore with Capt. Jason Stock.

Well, here we are. It’s 2017.

Although the calendar says winter, our weather is resembling springtime. And so is the fishing.

With mild temperatures and calm seas, the fishing around Anna Maria Island is excellent. Offshore and nearshore fishing are proving to be exceptional, with catches of cobia, kingfish, grouper, snapper and hogfish — the list goes on.

And fishing inshore is following suit. Snook, redfish and spotted seatrout are being caught with regularity, thanks to mild conditions and temperatures.

On my own excursions with Southernaire Fishing, it feels like spring break on the water. The water clarity is as clear as it gets. Fishing offshore in depths of 45-55 feet is resulting in good hauls of mangrove snapper, yellowtail snapper, porgies, white grunts and grouper. As we are catching these fish, we can peer over the gunwale and see what’s on the end of the line 40 feet below the surface. That’s some kinda clear water.

In the backcountry, the conditions are the same. Trolling through the deeper flats in waters 5-10 feet deep, you can look down and see every blade of grass and every little shell. It’s almost hypnotizing — like peering into another world.

That said, clear waters can make backwater fishing slightly challenging. However, I’ve been lucky enough to find rallies of both spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook. Catching spotted seatrout this time of year isn’t unheard of, but finding rallies of snook on the flats in January is something to celebrate. And the snook are feisty and healthy-looking. There’s no cold water to slow them down or cause the bite to be sluggish.

Also, I’m finding pompano and permit along the beaches and across the grass flats. The larger concentrations of fish seem to be along the beaches, while on the flats, I’m seeing small groups of scattered fish.

On a final note, I guess we should celebrate where we live and be thankful for the tropical-like conditions we are experiencing with the start of a mild winter.

We need to remember that we have some of the best fishing grounds on the Gulf Coast  — second only to our neighbors to the south in Charlotte Harbor.

And, so far, the fishing this winter is definitely proving that statement.

Happy new year to all and may your lines be tight and your fishing rods bent in 2017.

Capt. Jason Stock is working nearshore and offshore structure. While fishing these areas, Stock is carrying a variety of live bait, including shrimp, shiners, threadfin herring and pinfish. While using shrimp as bait, Stock is finding a respectable amount of hogfish. Switching baits to shiners is resulting in flounder and small grouper. Larger species — kingfish, cobia and keeper-size grouper — are being taken on pinfish and threadfin herring.

On windy days when offshore fishing is prohibitive, Stock is in the backwater, running kayak charters. Fishing the back bays and in the Intracoastal Waterway with artificials is producing redfish, trout and catch-and-release snook.

Capt. Aaron Lowman also is fishing nearshore structure with good results. By using live shrimp as bait, Lowman is leading his clients to the tastiest of fish: Hogfish. He’s finding fish up to 4 pounds in depths of 30-50 feet. Mixed in with the bite are porgies, mangrove snapper and gag grouper.

Moving inshore, Lowman is working south in Sarasota Bay for pompano. By drifting and jigging, Lowman’s charters are reeling up a variety of species, including pompano, trout, bluefish and ladyfish.

Capt. Warren Girle is taking clients offshore on days when the winds are light and the seas calm. By using live shiners as bait, Girle is hooking up with red and gag grouper. Also mixed in with the bite are mangrove snapper, yellowtails snapper, porgies, white grunts and an occasional flounder.

Fishing inshore is providing action for Girle’s anglers on the deep flats in Sarasota Bay, where there’s a decent trout bite. By using live shiners as bait, Girle’s anglers also are hooking up bluefish, ladyfish and jack crevalle.

Capt. Rick Gross of the Fishy Business is taking advantage of spring-like weather. Trout fishing on the local flats of southern Tampa Bay is stellar for Gross and his clients. Live shiners under a cork are producing limits of trout with ladyfish, jack crevalle and bluefish mixed in.

Moving to shallow flats is proving to be good for some catch-and-release snook fishing. Live, free-lined shiners are resulting in rallies of linesiders for Gross. Many fish 22-26 inches are being caught as well as fish here and there that top 28 inches.

Finally, redfish are being found on the flats and around residential docks, where live shiners and shrimp are producing the bite. Rallies of these fish are a welcome sight in December and Gross is putting it to them.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says pier fishers using live shrimp as bait are managing to reel up sheepshead, flounder and black drum. With the winter weather being in the 80s and waters calm and clear, pier fishers are lined up shoulder to shoulder with hopes of reeling in a big one. Fishers casting shrimp under the pier among the pilings are having the best results. With “gin clear” waters, most fish are taking refuge in the shade under the pier.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is working the flats with good results. By using live shiners as bait, White is finding his share of catch-and-release snook as well as redfish and spotted seatrout. Also, stalking along the edges of grass flats and around the passes is producing an occasional pompano bite. To hook up the pompano, White likes to use a Doc’s Goofy jig tipped with shrimp.

Moving offshore, White is finding amberjack as close to shore as 7 miles. Gag grouper are being caught in the same areas. Live shiners or pinfish are his baits of choice.

Finally, be in the know about openings, closures and changes to Gulf fishing regulations — gray triggerfish Gulf season remains closed through Dec. 31, 2017; the recreational harvest season for greater amberjack in the Gulf’s state and federal waters opened Jan. 1. A mutton snapper management change took place Jan. 1. The recreational bag limit is five fish per person within the 10-fish snapper aggregate bag limit in all state waters. Finally, gag grouper season closed Jan. 1 and will remain closed until June 1.

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

Unseasonably warm temps heat up action for fishers

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Bob Herz, daughters Molly, 13, and Rachel ,14, and wife Karen from Colorado visit family on Longboat Key and nd success shing with Capt. Warren Girle in Sarasota Bay. Using shiners and shrimp, they hooked up a few keeper red sh and seatrout on their annual charter.

With unseasonably warm temperatures this past week, fishing around Anna Maria Island turned up a notch.

Kingfish are being caught offshore, as well as mangrove snapper, grouper and hogfish. The inshore bite is good, with catch-and-release snook, redfish and trout being caught with regularity.

Shiners are available for anyone with a bait net on the flats, which is typically rare this time of year. Live shrimp as bait also are working for pompano, sheepshead, redfish and trout.

On my own adventures with Southernaire Fishing Charters, I’m patrolling the beaches in search of pompano and permit. Neither are being found in large numbers, but I’m finding enough action to keep my clients busy. To target these fish, I’m using small jigs with a short skirt tipped with shrimp with success. In some instances, just a plain old knocker rig with a shrimp will do the trick.

On the flats, spotted seatrout are responding to shrimp and shiners under a popping cork. I’m looking for water depths of 3-4 feet, where lush grass and sandy potholes are present. Many small trout are being caught and, with persistence, we are putting limits of slot-size fish in the cooler.

Capt. Warren Girle is running offshore for snapper and grouper. Both mangrove snapper and gag grouper are being caught using live shiners as bait. While targeting these fish, Girle’s clients are reeling up Key West grunts and a few flounder.

Moving inshore, Girle is finding many spotted seatrout throughout the deeper grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Live shrimp under a popping cork are producing the bite. Mixed in with the trout bite is some action on bluefish and jack crevalle. On the shallower flats, Girle is hooking up anglers with redfish and catch-and-release snook. Both are being taken on shiners and shrimp as bait.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is working inshore with good results for his clients. Redfish, black drum and flounder are being caught around residential canals and docks, where casting live shrimp is attracting a bite. Inshore fishing on the deeper grass flats of Anna Maria Sound is providing action for Lowman’s anglers. Spotted seatrout are being caught with a popping cork combined with a live shrimp as bait.

Moving out along the beaches and nearshore structure, Lowman is finding cooperative mangrove snapper and hogfish. Both are taking live shrimp combined with a knocker rig. Flounder also are being caught by this method.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says pier fishers using live shrimp as bait are finding a bite. Black drum and sheepshead are coming up to the deck, but only by patient anglers. Dropping live shrimp under the pier on a weighted rig is providing the most action. While employing this method, pier fishers are catching an occasional redfish or flounder.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is fishing near and offshore for kingfish. By slow trolling or anchoring and casting large baits, such as threadfin herring, White is hooking into 10-20 pound kings. Also while fishing nearshore structure, White is finding numerous mangrove snapper on the feed. Live shiners and shrimp dropped to the bottom in these areas are resulting in limits of snapper.

Moving inshore, White’s clients are finding catch-and-release snook are taking live shiners free-lined over shallow flats and potholes, which is resulting in fish up to 26 inches. Sheepshead are making an appearance around docks and rock piles inshore, where White employs fiddler crabs, sand fleas and shrimp to get the tasty striped fish to bite a hook.

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

December fishing provides anglers a variety of catches

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Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters shows off the hefty black fin tuna he caught Dec. 12 offshore.
Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters shows off the hefty black fin tuna he caught Dec. 12 offshore.
Celebrating king of kings The king run is still strong offshore of Anna Maria Island, evidenced by Janice Baxley, left, assisting Cindy Brown of Clermont with her smoker kingfish, caught offshore using a large grunt in about 70 feet of water. The anglers were catching grouper and snapper when the king crashed the Christmas party, according to their guide, Capt Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters.

Fishing around Anna Maria Island has remained consistent for another week. With mild temperatures and moderate seas, a variety of fishing can be accomplished. Whether venturing offshore for grouper and snapper or just casually fishing the flats in the local bays, local angers are finding success.

On my own adventures on Southernaire fishing charters, I’m finding my inshore trips to be quite pleasant. Calm, clear waters are making things easy for anglers working on the shallows. Spotted seatrout are in abundance and are on the feed. Live shrimp or shiners under a popping cork are resulting in numerous hookups, with at least 50 percent of the catches fits in the slot.

Fishing along the sandy beaches of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key is proving to be good for pompano and permit. Both species are being taken by one of two methods — small jigs tipped with shrimp or a plain old knocker rig combined with a whole shrimp. Keeper-sizes of both species are being taken.

Lastly, on cooler, windy days, I’m venturing toward the protection of residential docks and canals. Casting live shrimp into these areas is resulting in black drum, redfish, sheepshead and flounder. The rallies of fish aren’t quite apparent, yet, but dinner is realistic.

Capt. Jason Stock is working offshore ledges and rock piles for the elusive hogfish. Typically, hogfish are taken with ease by spear fishers, but are not a common catch for fishers who chose to stay above the water’s surface. However, Stock finds no need to get in the water. He is doing just fine with hook-and-line fishing in depths ranging 30-80 feet. He’s putting clients on hogfish 1-7 pounds on a bottom rig combined with a live shrimp.

While fishing around wrecks and reefs, Stock is hooking into amberjack. Although these fish are out of season, the sheer thrill provided by these fierce-fighting fish is enough to stimulate the most experienced anglers. Large baits, such as blue runners and bar jacks are proving to attract large fish in the 30- to 60-pound range. Using smaller baits — shiners or threadfins — is resulting in catches in the 20-pound range.

Capt. Aaron Lowman, working now out of the Seafood Shack Marina, is finding good results inshore. On windy days, Lowman is migrating to canals, working the seawalls and docks. According to Lowman, these areas can be slightly warmer than open waters, which in turn attract a variety of fish. With live shrimp as bait, Lowman is catching redfish, black drum, sheepshead and mangrove snapper. Another bait producing success in these areas is the Berkley Gulp shrimp. Combining a Gulp with a 1/4-ounce jig head is resulting in numerous flounder catches for Lowman’s clients.

Moving out to the nearshore wrecks and reefs, Lowman is targeting hogfish, porgies, gag and red grouper. Along with these species, the occasional cobia and kingfish are coming to the hook.

Capt. Warren Girle is finding good results for clients offshore. Using live shiners or cut-bait, Girle’s clients are reeling up red grouper and mangrove snapper. For the grouper, the cut-bait is preferred. As for the snapper, using live shiners is producing most bites.

Moving inshore, Girle is finding plenty of spotted seatrout willing to take live shiners or live shrimp under a popping cork. Along with trout, Girle is putting his clients on bluefish, ladyfish and jack crevalle.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is investing time offshore with good results. Targeting migratory species — kingfish, amberjack bonito and black fin tuna — is proving to be prosperous. Flat-lining live baits —  shiners or threadfin herring — is attracting the bite.

Snapper fishing offshore is providing good action on White’s charters. Yellowtail and mangrove snapper are being caught by chumming shiners. Chum is attracting other predators such as kings and tuna.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says fishing is steady for pier anglers using live shrimp for bait. Most catches are occurring during the morning tides. Species include sheepshead, black drum and flounder. Migratory species — ladyfish and blue runners — coming to the hook for anglers using small jigs or Gotcha plugs.

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

Winter is coming — time to bait shrimp for a hookup

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Howard Genesr, visiting from New Jersey, gets an assist Dec. 7 on his Christmas cobia from his guide, Capt. Larry McGuire. Genesr and his group caught grouper and snapper in about 95 feet of water offshore of the island, before they saw the cobia swim by the boat. McGuire said Genesr quickly dropped a line with a large grunt on the hook — leading to the catch of his life.
Ken Wawrewr and Roger Staig from Toronto, Canada, show off their Dec. 4 trout catch. They were guided by Capt. Warren Girle.

Baiting your hook with shrimp is becoming a necessity due to falling water temperatures and passing cold fronts.

There are shiners to be caught on the flats but, in most instances, substituting live shrimp can yield good results.

I’m finding an abundance of redfish around residential docks and canals that are more than happy to eat my live shrimp offerings. While searching for redfish, the shrimp are producing increasing numbers of black drum and sheepshead on my charters. And that’s a sure sign winter is around the corner.

Using shrimp as bait will work for most other species you’ll encounter in the back country, as well as around the nearshore reefs and ledges. Flounder, mangrove snapper and Key West grunts will readily take a well-placed shrimp on the reef. And don’t forget about sheepshead — they love nibbling shrimp.

Fishing the flats can be productive with shrimp. Deeper flats where spotted seatrout, bluefish and mackerel are lurking are a good place to cast a line. And don’t hesitate to cast a shrimp on a shallow flat to a snook. Most of the time, the shrimp will get inhaled before you can close the bail.

Capt. Warren Girle is fishing offshore when winds are light and the seas are calm. Using live shiners as bait around the artificial reefs is resulting in catches of mangrove snapper and Key West grunts by his clients. Trolling large-lipped plugs such as the Mann’s Stretch 30 over hard bottom and ledges is producing keeper-size gag grouper for Girle’s clients.

On the flats of Sarasota Bay, Girle is finding the trout bite to be the most consistent. Using live shiners or shrimp free-lined or under a cork is producing multiple hookups on trout, although many are under the 15-inch minimum limit. Keeper-fish are mixed in and Girle’s determined anglers are putting their limit in the cooler. *

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing pier fishers reeling up sheepshead, black drum and flounder on live shrimp. All three species are being caught with a bottom rig and a shrimp. Casting this rig under the pier deck is most advantageous for anglers looking to reel up dinner.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is working the deep grass flats in the bays for spotted seatrout. Using live shiners under a popping cork is leading Gross’ clients to rallies of schooley-sized trout. Slot fish 15-16 inches are mixed in with an array of smaller fish. While targeting trout, Gross is finding bluefish and jack crevalle, too.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is targeting the flats with good results. On shallower flats, catch-and-release snook are being caught with some regularity with live shiners as bait. Free-lining these shiners is resulting in snook ranging 20-24 inches. On deeper grass flats, Lowman is finding spotted seatrout are cooperative. Live shiners or live shrimp fished under a popping cork are attracting this bite.

After flats fishing, Lowman is working his way around the residential docks and canals. By using live shrimp as bait, he’s putting clients on a variety of species, including black drum, sheepshead and flounder. Typically, when fishing these areas, Lowman likes to use a knocker rig to keep the bait on the bottom, where the target is lurking.

Capt. Jason Stock says he’s running clients offshore with good results. Using large baits — threadfin herring or large shiners — is attracting attention from some tough fighting fish, including amberjack, cobia and king mackerel. These three species are being taken by free-lining baits behind the boat around wrecks and reefs.

Bottom fishing in these same areas is resulting in catches of gag grouper and mangrove snapper. Stock also is finding Goliath grouper present in considerable numbers, which makes it imperative to quickly reel up your catch before it gets eaten by a much bigger fish.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters —  formerly Great White Charters —  is working the inshore flats of Sarasota Bay and beyond. During morning low tides, White is finding numerous trout and snook. On the extreme low tides, these fish find pot holes where they can take refuge until the tide rises. By casting a shiner or shrimp into a hole, White is finding a bite.

On deeper flats, White is hooking up with Spanish mackerel and bluefish. For rigging, he’s using a long shank hook under a popping cork. Combine this with a live shiner and, as White says, “The bite is on.”

Fishing – 12-07-2016

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James, left, and Grady Clark, 13, visiting Anna Maria Island from Colorado, find success fishing near shore Nov. 29. With shiners as bait, they were guided by Capt. Warren Girle to a dinner catch of mangrove snapper.


Shiners keep rods bent for anglers inshore, nearshore


Despite some recent cold weather, fishing around Anna Maria Island is holding fast.

With late-season shiners available as bait, many anglers are finding success in the back country and out in the Gulf of Mexico.

Fishing the flats for snook and trout is still going strong. I’m finding the snook fishing is improving during the afternoon tide, when the water temps are reaching their peak. Remember, snook season closed Dec. 1, so all linesiders are catch-and-release.

As for trout fishing, deep and shallower flats are producing a bite. I suggest using a popping cork or a facsimile while baiting shiners, as most trout I’m hooking up with are on the small side. When using the smaller bait, you’ll find it a lot easier to cast with a weighted cork added to your rig.

While fishing offshore, the shiners are working well for Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper and even bottom-dwelling cobia. For the macks, a free-lined shiner on a long shank hook will get you connected. As for the snapper, a circle hook and egg sinker made into a knocker rig will get your bait down where the snapper are feeding. And while you’re doing this, don’t be surprised to hook into an occasional cobia. They’re down there and the brown bombers aren’t picky about big or small bait.

Capt. Warren Girle is working nearshore structure for a variety of species. Mangrove snapper are being caught while bottom fishing with live shiners. While bottom fishing for snapper, Girle’s clients are reeling up loads of Key West grunts and porgies. Red grouper and cobia are present, too, but they are not being caught with the regularity of the snapper and grunts.

Inshore fishing is providing Girle’s clients with rod-bending action. While fishing deep grass areas with free-lined shiners as bait, Girle is putting clients onto spotted seatrout and bluefish. Slot-size trout are being caught as well as many under-slot fish. As for the bluefish, 5-pounders are not uncommon.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is snook fishing on the grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Despite cooler water temperatures, Lowman is finding good numbers of snook since the species went out of season and he’s catching them, too. Live free-lined shiners or shiners under a popping cork are Lowman’s bait of choice, although the species is out of season.

Moving out into the Gulf of Mexico, Lowman is finding plenty of Spanish mackerel and kingfish. Large shiners or threadfin herring as bait are triggering the kings to take a taste. As for the macks, small shiners or Gotcha plugs are working well.

Reef fishing for Lowman also is providing action for his clients. Bottom fishing with live shiners as bait is resulting in mangrove snapper, grouper and an occasional cobia.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says fishers there are using live shrimp as bait with success. Using a bottom rig such as the fish-finder rig or knocker rig combined with live shrimp is resulting in black drum, redfish, flounder and sheepshead. Most hookups are occurring by casting baits under the pier or at least dropping them straight among the pilings. Keeper-sizes of the sheepies, black drum and flounder are being caught. As for the redfish, most catches are over the 27-inch maximum slot limit.

Capt. Jason Stock is having great luck while fishing nearshore and offshore structure. By bottom fishing with live shiners on the hook, Stock’s clients are reeling up mangrove snapper, gag grouper and cobia. Fishing live shiners on the surface is resulting in kingfish and Spanish mackerel.

While fishing reefs and wrecks in 30-60 feet of water, Stock is switching tactics and using live shrimp as bait to entice hogfish to take the bait. Fish 3-5 pounds are being taken with regularity.

Capt. David White of Great White charters is fishing inshore with good results. While fishing deep grass flats with shiners under a popping cork, White is finding numerous fish. Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, seatrout, redfish, snook and flounder are all being taken on this method. White is finding the most success while drifting and casting baits.

Fishing offshore is proving good for White’s clients looking for gag grouper. Dropping live pinfish or shiners to the bottom during morning tides is resulting in many hookups. Using shrimp as bait is producing a bite off shore, where hogfish are waiting for patient anglers weeding through the many grunts for a hog.

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

Red hot fishing action remains during passing cold fronts

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Jayne, Merrill and Bayne Froney, all visiting AMI from Michigan, show off their dinner, caught Nov. 25 on a charter trip with Capt. Warren Girle. They found gag grouper and red grouper offshore. The mother and daughters hooked up with 75 species of fish by using shiners as bait, and this gag is the only one they kept for dinner, according to Girle.
Thanksgiving morning, Chris, Olivia, Lily and Jake Mann, visiting from Ohio, find success using shiners nearshore on cobia, snapper, mackerel and bluefish. The Mann family shares the holiday with parents and grandparents on Longboat Key and, for the past three years, have fished on Thanksgiving with Capt. Warren Girle.

Fishing around Anna Maria Island remains fairly consistent despite a passing cold front before Thanksgiving.

A couple of nights with air temps in the mid-50s had an impact on fishing, although anglers with a little knowledge and a lot of patience are finding a bite.

Using live shiners as bait is working well for fish such as spotted seatrout. Trout seem to be less affected by water temps in the low 60s, which makes them a perfect target during the cooler months to come. I’m finding the bite to be slightly better during afternoon tides when the water has had a chance to warm up a degree or two. Slot and over-slot fish are being taken by fishing live shiners under a cork.

Snook fishing is becoming slightly challenging. I’m seeing plenty of snook, but getting them to bite is a different story. Waiting until late afternoon when the shallow flats are reaching their warmest temps is your best bet. Again, live shiners are the best bait, although a hand-picked shrimp will produce a bite.

Speaking of shrimp, live shrimp cast under residential docks are producing redfish and black drum. I’m using a 1/2-ounce knocker rig with a 2/0 circle hook combined with a live shrimp. This rig is easy to cast with accuracy and keeps the shrimp securely on the bottom, where the reds and black drum are dwelling.

Capt. Warren Girle is working around reefs and hard bottom to put his clients on the bite. Around the reefs, kingfish are readily taking free-lined shiners on a long shank hook. He’s also finding Spanish mackerel in these areas. Bottom fishing around the reefs and over hard bottom is producing mangrove snapper, as well as a few red grouper. Cobia are taking the hook, but the bite is random.

Moving inshore, deeper flats are producing spotted seatrout and bluefish. On the cooler, windy days, Girle uses live shrimp as bait. By using shrimp in canals and under docks, Girle is putting clients on redfish, black drum and a few snook.

Capt. Jason Stock is running offshore to the wrecks and reefs with good results. While using threadfin herring or large shiners as bait, Stock is hooking up gag and red grouper, amberjack and kingfish. For the grouper, a simple fish-finder bottom rig is producing a bite. For the amberjack, free-lined baits are Stock’s preferred method. As for the kings, slow trolling is attracting the most attention.

Hogfish are welcome aboard Stock’s vessel. By dropping live shrimp on a small bottom rig or jig head, Stock’s anglers found hogs in the 5-pound range.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business is working the flats of Anna Maria Sound and various other areas with good results on redfish. Live shiners fished under a cork or free-lined around oyster bars and mangrove shorelines are producing redfish up to 33 inches.

Deeper grass flats are holding spotted seatrout. Gross is using live shiners under a cork to lure these fish to the hook for his anglers. Slot and over-slot fish are being caught.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is fishing the flats of Sarasota Bay with good results on snook. Lowman is finding schools of smaller male snook bunched up on flats adjacent to deeper channels and mangrove edges. Live shiners and even jumbo shrimp are working as bait.

These linesiders are on the feed, which is resulting in some easy fishing for Lowman and his clients.

On nearshore structure, Lowman is finding Spanish mackerel and kingfish accommodating. Mangrove snapper, gag grouper, flounder and a stray cobia are present in these areas. Live shiners or pinfish are Lowman’s bait of choice while working the reefs.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing pier fishers reeling up a variety of good-eating fish. Flounder, sheepshead and redfish — to mention a few — are being taken on live shrimp. Black drum are taking the hook, as well as a few mangrove snapper.

Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and blue runners are present on days when the bait schools are gathering around the pier. Spoons, jigs or Gotcha plugs are all top producers for these migratory species.

November brings variety, bounty of catches to area anglers

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• Geno Lynn of Bradenton shows off a 28-inch redfish he caught on a Nov. 12 charter with Capt. Danny Stasny of Southernaire Fishing Charters.
• Kim and Ken Ferguson of Wisconsin enjoyed a beautiful day fishing Nov. 18 nearshore for kingfish and were lucky enough to also snag two red grouper on the charter. They used shiners for bait on their fishing adventure with Capt. Warren Girle.

With the cooler November weather nipping at our heels, it’s possible to find a number of species on the move, especially in the back country.

Snook are hastily making their way toward their wintertime haunts and, in the process, are voraciously on the feed, fattening up for winter.

On Southernaire charters, I’m finding many schooley-sized fish in the 22- to 26-inch range. Rallies of 20 or more fish in an hour has been the norm. Free-lined live shiners cast over shallow flats and around mangroves during high tides are resulting in this bite.

I’m also seeing trout and redfish being caught intermittently between snook bites. Although keeper snook are proving to be few and far between, the keeper-size redfish and trout are giving visiting anglers a chance to leave the dock triumphantly, a bag of fillets in hand for dinner.

You may want to start carrying not only live shiners in your baitwell, but also some live shrimp. I’m noticing plenty of sheepshead inhabiting the flats, especially around oyster bars. Black drum and redfish are present in these areas and you know how much they love shrimp. Lastly, I’ve seen a few pompano skipping around and what better to hook them but a “shrimp-tipped” jig.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says live shrimp on the hook is producing a variety of species. Casting live shrimp under the pier deck on a weighted rig is resulting in flounder, black drum, redfish and a few early-arrival sheepshead. Other less-desirable fish — lizardfish and pinfish — also take a liking to the tasty little shellfish.

Pier fishers using artificials — such as jigs and spoons —are hooking into jack crevalle, ladyfish and Spanish mackerel. Casting these lures around the edges of the bait schools is attracting a bite and a quick retrieval is resulting in the catch.

Lastly, pier fishers targeting snook are using live pinfish for bait. Again, casting these pinfish around and under the pier is resulting in hookups, although most catches are falling just under the minimum size limit of 28 inches.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business is working the back country of Sarasota Bay. By fishing shallow flats adjacent to channels or mangrove shorelines, Gross is finding rallies of snook. This bite is occurring during the higher points of the tide. Chumming with live shiners followed by a cast of a free-lined shiner into the mix is resulting in multiple hookups. Most catches are falling 20-26 inches. In one morning last week, Gross boasts of catching more than 70 snook.

Redfish are being caught by Gross this week, but not quite so much as the snook. Slot and just-under-slot reds are being caught in the same fashion as the snook. Some catches are being reeled to the boat between snook bites. Others are occurring around oyster bars and docks.

Capt. Jason Stock is fishing nearshore structure with good results. With macks swarming the local reefs, Stock is leading clients to simultaneous hookups and drag-screaming action. Most macks are falling 20-25 inches in length.

Moving to deeper waters, Stock is finding slightly bigger fish — amberjack. Also known as the “reef donkey,” these AJs are running in the 60-pound range. Mix in a few kingfish and cobia and you have a recipe for some unforgettable battles.

Capt. Warren Girle is working nearshore structure and finding rewards on a variety of species. In depths of 20-30 feet, Girle is finding an abundance of macks, mangrove snapper, shark and barracuda. The macks and snapper are being taken via live shiners. As for the ’cuda and sharks, fresh-cut chunks or whole live mackerel are getting the job done.

Moving out a little deeper, Girle is putting clients on numerous kingfish. Long shank hooks combined with a large shiner or threadfin herring is attracting the attention of kings in the 20- to 30-pound range.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is plying the local reefs and wrecks, resulting in some memorable experiences on the water for his clients. Spanish mackerel and kingfish are being caught by free-lining live shiners behind the boat. Chumming heavily is greatly increasing the action on these high-speed fish. Dropping shiners to the bottom is bringing up mangrove snapper, cobia and gag grouper. Lastly, chunks of fresh-cut mackerel are quickly being eaten by blacktip sharks.

Moving inshore, Lowman is cashing in on the “red hot snook bite.” Many schooley and a few slot-size fish are being caught on shallow flats during incoming tides. Redfish are taking shiners in the same areas as the snook. Mangrove shorelines with good tidal movement and turtle grass are top areas to investigate.

Capt. David White of Great White charters says the kingfish bite is solid whether he’s fishing along the beaches or miles offshore. Catching large threadfin herring on a Sabiki rig is White’s method of choice to supply bait for the kings. Free-lining baits or slow-trolling them around structure is resulting in kings up to 20 pounds.

Snook fishing at night is another specialty White has to offer. Using artificials, such as the ever-famous Red Tail Hawk, is getting attention from “big” snook around fender lights under local bridges. If you don’t know what a Red Tail Hawk is, it’s a jig — and it will catch anything.

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

Inshore, nearshore catches are November’s bounty

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Chris Bayne, visiting Anna Maria Island from Georgia, shows off a 20-pound cobia he caught Nov. 4 on a live shiner.
 Bayne and his group — fishing with Capt. Aaron Lowman — also caught and released a handful of amberjack, barracuda and kingfish about 5 miles off the beach. Lowman said they finished up the day on some red hot inshore snook action.

A little taste of fall weather is a welcome signal to the fishing community of Anna Maria Island and surrounding areas.

We’re finally settling in to our fall pattern, which promises some great fishing for both inshore and nearshore anglers alike. Bait is being found in abundance — another good sign. And even better yet — the red tide appears to have abated.

On the flats, I’m experiencing a great snook bite. Rallies of 20-30 snook are not uncommon. Most catches are schooley fish — 20-26 inches — but I’m seeing a keeper once in a while. Mixed in with the snook, I’m finding a lot of rat reds, most running 15-16 inches. There are keeper fish present, too, although I’m not seeing them with the frequency of the smaller fish.

Moving out along the beaches of Anna Maria Island and beyond, I’m seeing a surplus of Spanish mackerel. These fish are a great adversary on light tackle and an enjoyable species to catch. Kingfish also are making a showing. Numerous kings in the 5-10 pound range are being caught with fish up to and exceeding 20-pounds mixed in. That being said, it’s time to get the smoker ready.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is working nearshore structure along the beaches out to about 40 feet of water with good results. Spanish mackerel, kingfish and, most importantly, cobia are being caught on live shiners. According to Lowman, the macks are most abundant in areas where artificial reefs and rock piles are found. The kings and cobia are following suit.

For the inshore bite, Lowman is fishing shallow grass flats where mangrove islands or oyster bars are present. Snook and redfish are both being taken in these scenarios via a live shiner as bait. Spotted seatrout are biting on grass flats, although in deeper water of 4-6 feet. Again, live shiners are the bait of choice.

Capt. Warren Girle is working nearshore structure and finding an abundance of kingfish and mackerel for his clients. Both species are being caught with frequency by free-lining live shiners behind the boat. For the macks, small shiners in the 3-inch range are working best. As for the kingfish, larger shiners in the 5-6 inch range are proving to be perfect. While targeting macks and kings, Girle is hooking into an occasional cobia.

Moving inshore, Sarasota Bay is providing some excellent action on redfish. During low tides, Girle is stalking reds along shallow flats where sandy potholes or “depressions” are found. During these low tides, the redfish take refuge in the pockets of water. This being said, rallies of redfish are coming aboard Girle’s boat.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says fishing is quite good at the northern tip of Anna Maria Island. Pier fishers using live shrimp as bait are catching a wide variety of species, including redfish, black drum, flounder and sheepshead. Live baits such as pinfish and shiners are producing a bite. Numerous snook are being caught on either bait.

Pier fishers electing to use lures are grabbing for Gotcha plugs or small jigs. Results from their choice include Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, blue runners and jack crevalle.

Capt. Jason Stock is taking clients offshore for kingfish, mackerel and cobia. For the kings, slow trolling large baits —threadfin herring, blue runners or large shiners — is attracting a bite. The macks and cobia are being taken while at anchor. Free-lining smaller size live shiners is attracting both species to the boat.

Tripletail are being caught on the Stock charters. Live shiners or shrimp under a popping cork or just free-lined around floating debris are quickly eaten by these mysterious-looking fish.

Capt. David White of Great White charters says the Spanish mack action is “crazy right now.” Free-lined live shiners on a longshank hook are a sure thing when trying to catch macks and kingfish are being caught on larger baits, such as threadfin herring. When fishing around structure White is finding gag grouper while trolling lipped plugs around the reef. Pinfish or shiners dropped to the bottom while at anchor can also produce a bite on gags. Lastly, cobia are being taken in the same areas as the gag grouper. Bottom rigs with live pinfish attached and sent down to the reef are being devoured.

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