Tag Archives: fishing
Vivck and Ravi Kiluk of Tampa show off a 21-inch flounder caught on a recent charter fishing trip with Capt. Danny Stasny.
The gates have opened, fishing game is on
Fishing around Anna Maria Island is heating up as the days get warmer and the winds remain calm.
With water temps reaching 70 degrees, migratory species such as Spanish mackerel, bluefish and ladyfish are schooling to corral bait. Look for diving birds in Tampa Bay and around artificial reefs to find the fish. Other migratory fish, including kingfish, cobia and shark, are worth a watchful eye, too.
In the backcountry, catch-and-release snook, redfish and spotted seatrout are gathering around mangrove islands and shorelines where there are grass flats and good tidal flow. Spotted seatrout up to 28 inches are being reported from these areas. Look for schooling redfish on shallow flats during the incoming tides in the afternoons. For catch-and-release snook, mangrove edges are a good place to stage up and fish as the tides starts ripping out. For all of these species, live shiners free-lined behind the boat will get a bite.
Pompano are being caught along the beaches on live sand fleas and pompano jigs. Try fishing at sunrise or late in the evening on the higher tides to locate and catch fish. When jigging for pompano, be prepared to catch ladyfish, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and jack crevalle. With macks and bluefish in the vicinity, it will pay to carry extra pompano jigs — their sharp teeth can cut through your leader before you know what happened.
Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier is seeing Spanish mackerel flapping on the dock this week. Pier fishers are using artificials like Gotcha plugs or small white jigs to get the bite. Along with macks, expect to catch ladyfish and bluefish in the 15- to 20-inch range.
For those planning to do a little night fishing, Sork says the target is spotted seatrout. He suggests anglers come to the pier equipped with a long-handled dip net to scoop ballyhoo for bait. Once you have a few small ballyhoo in an aerated bucket, you’re ready to fish. Free-line your bait around areas where the water is lit and the bait swirls for the trout staging on the outskirts in search of their prey.
Jonny Keyes at Island Discount Tackle is finding gator trout on shallow flats in Sarasota Bay. Using live shiners for bait, Keyes is catching trout in the slot as well as over-slot fish to 26 inches.
Along with trout, Keyes is catching slot-reds and multiple catch-and-release snook in the same areas. Again, live shiners free-lined over sandy potholes are getting the bite.
From the piers, beaches and passes, Keyes is hearing of good Spanish mackerel action. Plugging with Gotcha plugs, silver spoons or small white jigs is putting fishers with light tackle on drag-screaming action. Keyes suggests examining what the mackerel are feeding on before rigging. If the macks are eating glass minnows, Keyes recommends small white crappie jigs or Spro ghost jigs. If larger bait is around, Keyes says to switch to silver spoons or 7/8-ounce Gotcha plugs.
Pompano are expected to make a showing in the weeks to come. Keyes suggests fishing the beaches at sun up with pompano jigs or sand fleas will be productive.
Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime fishing charters is seeing the spring weather pattern slowly take hold and, he says, the fish are responding accordingly. Redfish, spotted seatrout, Spanish mackerel, catch-and-release snook and sharks are moving into Tampa Bay to feed.
Howard says a sure sign of spring is the many species of sharks he’s seeing cruising sandbars. Blacktip, bonnethead, lemon and bull sharks are cruising the flats looking for food. Howard suggests rigging a chunk of ladyfish on a cable hook to get in on the action.
“While running the bulkhead area, I saw a 5-foot sawfish cruising. I decided to just enjoy seeing the beautiful creature and moved on, passing an opportunity to do battle with the unique creature,” Howard says.
He says redfish and catch-and-release snook are starting to school on the flats and moving up into the mangrove roots on the higher tides produced by the recent full moon. “We’ve been using shiners pegged on a 2/0 Owner circle hook with a small split shot on a popping cork to keep the bait away from the annoying birds that seem to attack any live bait that swims to the surface,” Howard adds. Small pinfish and cut ladyfish are good baits to use.
Big macks are chewing heavily all over the bay with plenty of 24-inch fish providing the action. Howard likes to use to a long shank hook to prevent getting his line cut. Remember to only keep enough of these fish for dinner, as they do not freeze well.
Looking forward as the days get longer and warmer, fishing will only improve, Howard says. The influx of bait will supercharge the action and provide opportunities to get a nice bag of fillets for the dinner table.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is flats fishing in both Tampa and Sarasota bays in search of redfish, snook and spotted seatrout. Gross is first locating fish from his tower vantage point, and then anchoring and chumming to stir up the bite.
On shallow grass flats adjacent to mangrove shorelines, Gross is having good rallies on both redfish and catch-and-release snook. Slot-size and over-size reds were the norm this past week. As for the catch-and-release snook, Gross is hooking up fish in the 30-inch range.
On slightly deeper flats, Gross is catching spotted seatrout. Water depths of 3-4 feet are holding over-slot trout in numbers. Again, Gross is anchoring and chumming to get the fish on the line.
Lastly, Gross is fishing deep grass beds with a depth of 6-10 feet for Spanish mackerel and finding them in numbers. By anchoring and chumming, Gross is able to keep these fish within casting range for his clients, resulting in multiple hookups with a fish on the line every cast. Expect to catch ladyfish, bluefish and small blacktip sharks in the mix.
Capt. Warren Girle is fishing the backcountry, producing respectable catches of redfish, spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook. With a combination of tactics, such as artificials, live baits and even chunk baits, Girle’s clients are having successful days on the water.
For the reds, Girle is quietly positioning the bait near sandy potholes, where unsuspecting reds are lying in wait to ambush a meal. By casting chunks of fresh-cut ladyfish in and around these holes, Girle is hooking up reds up to 31 inches.
In these same areas, Girle is finding schools of catch-and-release snook. By either live baiting with shiners or jigging with artificials, Girle’s charters are landing fish in the 30-inch range.
Judy Vance of Denver reports celebrating her 70th birthday with a productive fishing trip with Capt. Trek Hackney. Vance caught the first and biggest fish of the day — a catch-and-release snook — the trio of fishers, including Lou Wheeler of Denver and Randy Billman of Holmes Beach, went on to catch a number of spotted seatrout and redfish.
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Jerry Allan, Steve Elder and Ron Mason, all on vacation from Indiana, show off the catch-and-release redfish they hooked up on a recent charter trip with Capt. Warren Girle.
Successful fishing tactics to employ while awaiting warm up
Someone needs to remind Mother Nature that it’s April in Florida. We’ve had enough cold fronts and windy days to remind us why we are in the Sunshine State. It’s time for the return of those warm, calm days and fish biting like crazy. Until they do, here’s some tactics to help catch fish in sloppy weather.
Sheepshead are abundant this time of year. And, if you haven’t noticed, not only do these convict fish put up a great fight when hooked, they taste great breaded and fried. If you haven’t sat down for a sheepshead fish fry, you just don’t know what you’re missing.
Another species to target during unseasonably cold conditions is spotted seatrout. During cooler weather, these fish migrate to deep grass flats where the temp is consistent and the water is clear. Try drifting and jigging with soft plastics to get in on some great rallies on spotted seatrout.
Lastly, cooler water temps are good for targeting flounder around docks and nearshore structure. Try dragging a pinfish or shiner across the sandy bottom surrounding a reef and see what happens. The same applies for docks and piers.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier says sheepshead are biting on shrimp, crabs or fleas. Fish in the 1- to 2-pound range are the norm at the pier, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t bigger ones lurking there.
Pier fishers eager for Spanish mackerel are still waiting. Stray macks are being caught, but the masses of fish have not arrived. The macks that are being caught are respectable, coming in at 20-plus inches.
Flounder and black drum are being caught at the pier, although this bite also is sporadic. Most of these catches are occurring for pier fishers targeting sheepshead with live shrimp.
Jonny Keyes at Island Discount Tackle is hearing of sheepshead at the piers and canal docks coming to the hook on live shrimp, fiddler crabs and sand fleas. Keyes suggests using a small, stout hook when targeting sheepshead due to their boney mouth.
From the flats, Keyes is hearing of decent spotted seatrout action occurring on soft plastics combined with a lead jig head. Most trout fishers are finding flats with water depths of 5-7 feet and then doing a slow drift to locate fish. Slot-size trout are being reported daily.
On shallower flats, depths of 2-3 feet, redfish and catch-and-release snook are responding to live shiners fished under a popping cork. Keyes suggests hunting mangrove shorelines with good tidal flow to find the fish.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business charters is targeting a variety of species depending on how the weather plays out.
On warmer days, Gross is hooking up clients with catch-and-release snook and redfish on shallow flats during the high tides. Gross is using live shiners to target both species. Slot-size reds are the norm with a few over-slot fish mixed in. The size range on catch-and-release snook is 20-31 inches this past week.
On cooler days, Gross is fishing deep grass for spotted sea trout, using a MirrOlure Lil John combined with a 1/4-ounce jighead to locate the fish. By doing a slow drift over the flats, Gross is producing trout up to 20 inches. Expect to catch Spanish mackerel and ladyfish there, too.
Finally, on windy, cold days, Gross is fishing structure for sheepshead and flounder, using live shrimp to target both species. Sheepies in the 1- to 2-pound range are biting consistently. While targeting sheepies, flounder in the 15-inch range also are being brought to the boat.
Capt. Warren Girle is targeting redfish around mangrove islands and shorelines lined with oyster bars. Using fresh-cut chunks of ladyfish for bait, he entices the reds to bite. Fish in the 23- to 27-inch range were the norm this past week.
Moving out to deeper grass flats, Girle is targeting spotted seatrout with soft plastics. By drifting and jigging, he’s putting clients on big trout, exceeding the slot. Along with trout, he’s reeling up ladyfish, mackerel and bluefish.
Lastly, Girle is fishing docks on windy, cold days for flounder and mangrove snapper. Live shrimp is the bait of choice for Girle when targeting these fish during cold weather. He reports catching flounder up to 18 inches.
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John Quill of Maryland shows off a 22-inch, 7-pound sheepshead he caught on a recent charter with Capt. Danny Stasny.
If you don’t like the weather, wait 30 minutes
Fishing around Anna Maria Island this past week had some ups and downs based on the changing weather.
We saw warm and sunny days, rainy days, cold and windy days — all in one week, mind you. A good catch is possible during all three scenarios if the fish are biting, the rainy or cold days aren’t all bad.
Along with the roller coaster weather comes a wide variety fish. Varying weather extremes sometimes demand targeting different fish. Cold, windy days are good for targeting sheepshead, reds and snook on shallow flats. On rainy days, the fish are already wet and they don’t mind.
From the flats, expect to encounter spotted seatrout, redfish and catch-and-release snook. Live shiners are the ticket to get in on the bite. If you choose to use artificials, topwater plugs at sun up are a good bet. Soft plastics like the Berkley Gulp shrimp or MirrOlure Lil John combined with a 1/8-ounce jighead will get you connected, too.
Look for sheepshead, mangrove snapper and flounder around nearshore structure. Live shrimp are the bait of choice to hook up. Expect to encounter catch-and-release gag grouper, too.
Finally, look for skyrocketing Spanish mackerel in Tampa Bay, especially between the Anna Maria City Pier and Egmont Key. Nearshore structure in the Gulf also is holding macks. Live shiners combined with a long shank hook will get your rod bent. Silver spoons, Gotcha plugs or small white jigs will prove their purpose when casting out to schooling macks.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier in Anna Maria is still seeing good numbers of sheepshead reeled up to the deck. Pier fishers using live shrimp, fiddler crabs or sand fleas are catching dinner. Average size of the sheepies this past week was 12-14 inches, although fish up to 18 inches are being caught.
Pier fishers targeting sheepies also are catching keeper-size flounder and black drum. For the flounder, live shrimp is the bait of choice. Expect to catch fish in the 12- to 15-inch range. As for the black drum, sheepshead bait works fine and anglers at the pier are catching slot-sized fish.
Jonny Keyes at Island Discount Tackle is seeing a variety of fish coming back to port with the local charter captains. Keyes is seeing upper-slot redfish and trout daily on the fillet table at the dock, in addition to sheepshead, mangrove snapper and Spanish mackerel.
From the flats, fishers are catching redfish on both live baits and artificials. Live shiners or shrimp are working, especially when fished under a popping cork. For artificials, Keyes suggests targeting reds with Berkley Gulp shrimp paired with a 1/4-ounce jighead or a Johnson gold spoon.
Spotted seatrout are making a showing on deeper grass flats. Any soft plastic combined with a jighead will get you in the action. Keyes also suggests the MirrOlure MirrOdine to target larger trout.
Finally, sheepshead and mangrove snapper are being caught on live shrimp around nearshore structure. A 1/0 circle hook with enough lead to get your bait to the bottom will do the trick.
Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime fishing charters agrees, the weather plays a major factor in what he’s catching.
On the warmer days this past week, Howard caught redfish, snook and spotted seatrout using shiners. “The key to success was locating the warmer water on the flats and setting up to fish these areas,” Howard says. A 5-degree difference can make for some big concentrations of fish, Howard adds.
He suggests using an old-school popping cork so the bait stays just above the seagrass and make the bobber gurgle to entice the predators to chew. Small pinfish and grunts work well for bait, too, he said.
On the colder days Howard uses live shrimp rigged with a split-shot to get the bait to the bottom around structure and pilings, where sheepshead, redfish and black drum have been coming to the boat for Howard’s clients.
Looking forward, Howard says the springtime warmup will happen soon, resulting in an explosion for anglers on the nearshore and inshore waters of Tampa Bay. When the water temperature hits 70 degrees, the flats will be flooded with fish moving onto skinny water to feed. Netting shiners will get easier as the fish move onto the flats and those runs to the Skyway Bridge to cast for bait will not always be necessary, Howard adds.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is fishing deep grass flats in search of spotted seatrout. Using a 1/4-ounce jighead combined with a MirrOlure Lil John soft plastic, Gross is jigging up trout in the 15- to 22-inch range. Along with big trout, Gross is catching Spanish mackerel in the 20-inch range and plenty of bluefish and ladyfish in the mix. This adds a little variety for his clients and good action between trout bites.
On shallower grass flats, Gross is working live shiners to target redfish and catch-and-release snook. Depending on depth, Gross is either free-lining baits or placing them under a popping cork. Average size of snook the past week was 20-26 inches with some 20 fish brought to the boat. For the reds, Gross is catching upper-slot fish in the 24- to 26-inch range.
Capt. Warren Girle is fishing shallow flats in Sarasota Bay during afternoon high tides in search of redfish and spotted seatrout. Girle is putting his clients on both species, using either live shiners or artificials like Berkley Gulp shrimp on a jighead. When using shiners, Girle recommends anchoring and chumming to get the fish in a feeding mood. Chumming also aids in bringing fish into casting range and keeping them there. When fishing artificials, Girle is using a trolling motor to sneak up on his prey. Once targeted fish are in range, he has clients sight-cast to sandy potholes or right at the fish, if they’re visible.
Spotted seatrout in the slot-size are the norm this past week for Girle, although fish as big as 26 inches are being caught.
The same applies for the redfish. Slot-sizes are the norm with over-slot fish —some exceeding 31 inches — caught sporadically. For the reds, more of the bigger fish are feeding on live shiners as compared to artificials.
Girle is still targeting permit and pompano in south Sarasota Bay, although he feels the bite is beginning to slow down. Yellow pompano jigs tipped with small pieces of fresh-cut shrimp are the ticket to get these elusive fish to bite. Expect to catch mackerel, bluefish and ladyfish between pompano and permit bites.
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Earl Jaffe from Illinois and Sean Armstrong are pleased with their redfish, caught on a fishing trip with Capt. Warren Girle.
Spring break offers little break in windy March weather
March has arrived bringing plenty of spring breakers, eager anglers and windy days.
March on Anna Maria Island can be a great month for fishing — when the weather permits. Windy days and winter’s remaining cold fronts can sometimes put a damper on fishing plans, but don’t be discouraged. These fronts usually last only a couple of days and then the weather and fishing turn to some of the best to be found.
Sheepshead are the highlight again this week for both pier fishers and boating anglers. Reports from both piers on the north end of Anna Maria Island are promising if you’re in search of some sheepies for the dinner table. Live shrimp, fiddler crabs and sand fleas are producing a bite.
On the flats, the main focus is redfish. Try fishing high tides to locate fish along mangrove edges and in sandy potholes close to shore. Live shiners or pinfish are the primary baits, although a chunk of fresh-cut ladyfish will get the job done, too.
Finally, spotted seatrout are making a showing on the deeper grass flats of Anna Maria Sound. Try drifting and working a soft plastic combined with a lead jig head to find the fish. Once you get on the right drift, you should be able to jig up your limit in no time.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business charters is fishing nearshore reefs when the weather permits. On these reefs, Gross is catching a variety of species, but the main focus is sheepshead. Using live shrimp on a knocker rig allows his clients to reel up sheepshead up to 4 pounds — and in good numbers, too. Other catches while targeting sheepies include keeper-size flounder, porgies and Key West grunts.
Spanish mackerel are frequenting nearshore reefs and Gross is taking advantage of the action. By casting small white jigs, Gross is hooking up Spanish mackerel up to 18 inches.
Moving to the flats of Tampa Bay, Gross is using live shiners to target redfish. Slot-size reds were the norm last week. On a recent charter, Gross managed to put his clients on some keeper reds up to 25 inches.
Capt. Warren Girle is fishing nearshore structure when the Gulf is calm and the winds are down. By using live shrimp, his groups are reeling up good numbers of sheepshead and keeper-size flounder. Also on the reefs, Girle is seeing bonito and mackerel, which he’s hooking up on small white jigs.
Moving to the flats of Sarasota Bay, Girle is targeting schooling reds during the high tides. Using chunks of fresh-cut ladyfish, Girle is putting his clients on reds up to 30 inches. Soft plastics combined with a lead jig head also are producing bites from reds. Girle suggests either Berkley Gulp shrimp or Exude Darts.
On the deeper flats, Girle is jigging for spotted seatrout. An Exude Dart in the Golden Bream color combined with a red jig head is Girle’s choice of lure. Trout in the 16- to 20-inch range are the norm, although fish up to 27 inches are being caught.
Finally, Girle is still targeting pompano and permit in south Sarasota Bay. He’s using a pompano jig tipped with fresh-cut shrimp to get a bite. Along with pompano and permit, expect to catch plenty of ladyfish and Spanish mackerel.
Jonny Keyes at Island Discount Tackle says sheepshead are attracting fishers to the shop this past week looking for a variety of baits, including live shrimp, fiddler crabs and sand fleas. Those fishing nearshore structure are using live shrimp. Both pier fishers and boaters are reporting good numbers of sheepies around local docks and nearshore reefs.
Beach fishers are finding success when the waters are calm. Along the Gulf of Mexico shoreline, expect to find black drum and flounder, as well as a few pompano. Live shrimp are producing the bite. Berkley Gulp shrimp combined with a 1/4-ounce jighead is a good combination for those who prefer artificials. Cast into the trough that runs along the shoreline to hook up.
On the flats, fishers are catching good numbers of redfish. Using live shiners or pinfish, flats fishers are reeling up reds in the 15- to 30-inch range. To find these fish, Keyes suggests fishing during the higher tides along mangrove edges.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says sheepshead are the primary catch there. With cold nights, dropping water temps and strong winds from the north, you would think that fishing the pier would be tough. You’re partly right, but conditions like this don’t affect the sheepshead bite. Live shrimp, fiddler crabs and sand fleas are the ticket to catch these tasty fish at the R&R.
As of this week, Malfese says he’s seeing the sheepies being reeled up are running a little smaller than previous weeks.
“They must have spawned out,” says Malfese. “We’re still catching keepers, but not the big females like we were last week.”
Flounder are on the fishing menu at the R&R. Keeper-fish are being caught although the bite is sporadic at best. Try dragging the bottom around the pier with a Berkley Gulp shrimp combined with a 3/8-ounce jighead to locate and catch flounder.
Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier is seeing respectable numbers of sheepshead being caught on live shrimp, fiddlers and sand fleas. Determined pier fishers willing to brave strong north winds and cold temperatures are being rewarded with sheepshead in the 1- to 3-pound range. Sork suggests carrying a variety of baits. Some days the finicky sheepies are feeding on shrimp and the next day they only take a fiddler crab and then it’s sand fleas.
Other catches at the pier include small mangrove snapper, flounder and a few stray mackerel. For the snapper and flounder, live shrimp are working. For the Spanish mackerel, try using a white crappie jig to imitate the glass minnows that the mackerel are feeding on.
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Andy Markevich of Canada shows off one of many redfish landed on an afternoon charter with Capt. Mark Howard of Sumotime. The 30-inch redfish was released to fight another day, Howard said.
Pre-spawn sheepshead still the focus for winter fishers
With recent cold fronts and strong winds, sheepshead remain the steady focus. Numbers are increasing around docks, piers and artificial reefs. These fish are schooling up to spawn, and it’s critical to find pre-spawn fish if you plan on catching the 4-6 pounders. Once these fish have spawned, you’ll see a decline in the bite and size.
In spots where you’re catching larger fish, expect to catch fish in the 1- to 2-pound range after they spawn. While fishing the piers where there is more pressure on these fish, it may be wise to switch up baits. The sheepies may bite on shrimp at first, and next turn their noses. Try carrying some live fiddler crabs or sand fleas so you have options. If you can get tubeworms for bait, your stringer will look more impressive than most. Sheepies love tubeworms.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business charters is targeting a number of species based on the weather conditions. On cold, windy days, Gross is dock fishing for sheepshead. On warmer days, redfish and spotted seatrout on the flats of Sarasota Bay are the target.
For the sheepies, Gross is anchoring close to docks and casting live shrimp with a knocker rig, putting his bait on the bottom. Sheepshead in the 1- to 2-pound range are the norm. While fishing docks, expect to catch flounder, redfish and black drum.
On the flats, Gross is combining a MirrOlure Lil John with a 1/4-ounce jighead to drift the flats in search of trout. By drifting and jigging, Gross is catching trout ranging 12-20 inches. While targeting trout with jigs, Gross also is catching flounder, bluefish and some stray mackerel.
By fishing sandy potholes adjacent to mangrove islands, Gross is finding decent numbers of catch-and-release snook. Live shiners are the bait of choice — if available. Average sizes of the snook are 22-26 inches, although bigger females are in the mix.
Capt. Warren Girle is targeting schooling redfish in Sarasota Bay using a variety of baits depending on the mood of the reds. To start, Girle is fishing top-water plugs like Sebile lures or Rapala Skitterwalks. These lures produce well in the early morning or during low-light conditions. As the sun rises higher in the sky, Girle is switching to soft plastics combined with a lead jig head. MirrOlure Lil John’s are preferred by Girle.
Finally, if the reds don’t cooperate, Girle has a surefire way to get them to bite. After catching a few ladyfish, Girle cuts them in small chunks and baits his hook. Casting to the outskirts of the school, Girle gets the “reluctant reds” to eat his offering. Upper-slot redfish were the norm in the past week.
By jigging the deeper flats of Sarasota, Girle is picking up an assortment of species — pompano, permit, bluefish, ladyfish and mackerel to name a few.
Finally, by jigging sandy potholes on shallow flats, Girle is finding good numbers of spotted seatrout. Average size is 15-20 inches, although fish up to 24 inches are being caught.
Grady Smith at Island Discount Tackle says sheepshead anglers are arriving in droves in search of some tasty zebra-striped fish. Small stout hooks and numerous varieties of terminal tackle used for sheepies are flying off the store shelves. Most sheepherders are purchasing live shrimp to try their luck. Others are using live sand fleas harvested on the beach with a sand flea rake.
On the flats, spotted seatrout and redfish are being caught on artificials or live bait. For artificials, Smith suggests a Berkley Gulp shrimp combined with a 1/4-ounce jighead. For live bait, shrimp is the ticket for success.
Finally, Smith says he’s hearing of some good catch-and-release snook action when conditions are favorable. Warm days and high tides are the recipe for finding this sought-after game fish.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says, “The sheepies are on the march.”
Pier fishers are flocking to the R&R to get in on the action. Preferred baits are live shrimp or fiddlers, although sand fleas are working, too. Expect to catch sheepies in the 1-2 pound range around the pier. There are bigger ones down there, but it takes determination or luck to get them to bite.
Black drum and flounder are being caught by pier fishers targeting sheepies. Both the drum and the flounder will readily take a live shrimp so be prepared for variety.
Finally, stray pompano are being caught at the pier. They haven’t arrived in good numbers, according to Malfese, but he expects the bite to turn on in the next few weeks. Most pompano being caught the past week were barely the minimum size of 11 inches to the fork of the tail.
Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier says everyone is concentrating on sheepshead this week. Fiddler crabs and sand fleas are producing a bite, along with live shrimp, although pier fishers using tubeworms are dominating the catch. Sheepies up to 2 pounds are being caught daily with a few bigger females mixed in.
Flounder also are taking up residence under the pier. Most are being caught on live shrimp or Berkley Gulp shrimp worked under and around the edges of the pier.
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Mark Schumacher of Ohio went fishing with Capt. Warren Girle. He shows off his catch a — 28 1/2-inch 8-pound female trout — which was released. Girle said it was the biggest trout his crew had ever seen.
Weather changes create challenges for local anglers
Anna Maria Island anglers are catching a variety of species when the weather cooperates. As we enter March, springtime patterns should start emerging unless we get some late cold fronts like the one we experienced last week.
Strong winds, rain and a sudden drop in temperature can make fishing challenging.
As of two weeks ago, local fishers were using live shiners for bait. Redfish, trout and catch-and-release snook are readily taking live shiners, especially on the afternoon high tides. Now, due to the recent cold front, most fishers will switch back to shrimp for a few days. You may have to give flats fishing a break until it warms back up. Try fishing docks for reds, black drum and sheepshead. You can also walk the beaches when the surf is minimal and jig for pompano.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business charters is flats fishing in lower Tampa Bay in search of redfish, spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook. By using live shiners for bait, Gross is leading his clients to respectable catches of all the familiar species. Gross feels that while using shiners, its best to fish with the smaller-sized baits. Trout and redfish are responding to small baits rigged with a No. 2 Eagle Claw live-bait hook. At a time when the fish are shallow, Gross is adding a Paradise Popper popping cork to keep his baits out of the grass. In deeper water, he is simply free-lining baits.
During cooler days, when the fish on the flats are not in the feeding mood, Gross is switching tactics. Gross is catching sheepshead, flounder and black drum around local docks on live shrimp.
Capt. Warren Girle is fishing for redfish in Sarasota Bay. Girle is targeting the schooling fish during afternoon high tides. By quietly motoring through shallow water, Girle is locating the fish. They’re still a little spooked and not responding to live baits. By simply casting small ladyfish chunks towards the edge of the school, Girle’s clients are hooking up fish in the range of 24-27 inches.
Also worth mentioning, is a 28 1/2-inch, 8-pound spotted seatrout that was caught on fresh-cut ladyfish. It just goes to show that sometimes thinking outside the box can be rewarding. You never know what you might catch when using chunk baits.
Girle also is still jigging up pompano in south Sarasota Bay. Small bullet-head pompano jigs tipped with fresh-cut shrimp are the ticket. While jigging, Girle’s clients are catching Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, jack crevalle, small trout and bluefish.
Steve Oldham at Island Discount Tackle says sheepshead are the highlight of the week. Pier fishers are reporting respectable catches of these tasty striped fish. For bait, live shrimp is working well. Other baits that attract a bite include fiddler crabs, sand fleas or tubeworms. Remember to use a small stout hook when targeting these boney-mouthed fish. Sometime removing hooks from a sheepshead’s mouth can be difficult, even with pliers. A stout hook will aid in removal and won’t be likely to bend when gripped and turned with pliers.
Spotted seatrout are responding to soft plastics combined with a lead jighead. Oldham suggests drifting over deeper grass flats and jigging for fish in the sandy potholes. As for bait, a Berkley Gulp shrimp in either New Penny or Molting colors is recommended.
Finally, beach fishers are still catching pompano, although the bite is sporadic. Using pompano jigs rigged with a stinger fly, beach fishers in between pompano are catching bluefish, Spanish mackerel and ladyfish.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says sheepshead are dominating the bite. Sheepherders are using live shrimp or live fiddlers to get these buck-toothed fish to bite. Don’t be surprised to walk out on the pier and see stringers of these fish flowing in the tide. The bite is on. Average side of the sheepies being caught at the pier is 1-3 pounds.
Meanwhile, Spanish mackerel are beginning to show around the pier, which is a welcome sight. Pier fishers using Gotcha plugs or speck rigs are reeling up macks in the 12- to15-inch range. While targeting mackerel, pier fishers are occasionally hooking up with a stray bonito. Although these fish have no food value, they are a great sport fish. These fish will peel off all the line on your reel if you let them.
In closing, a few black drum and pompano are being caught on live shrimp by bottom fishing at the R&R. For the drum, cast a shrimp under the pier for best results. For the pompano, try casting your shrimp out away from the pier.
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Braden Blakely, on a family vacation to Anna Maria Island from Maryland, shows off his sheepshead catch, the result of a charter with Capt. Mark Howard of Sumotime. Howard reports the family took home a full cooler of fillets.
Weather heats up like spring, fishing pattern, too
Following the past week’s cold front, Anna Maria Island fishers were getting back on the water, targeting a number of inshore species.
As temperatures approached daytime highs of 80 degrees, conditions were favorable for fishing just off the beaches and piers, as well as the lush grass flats in Anna Maria Sound.
Beach fishers are being rewarded with catches of pompano, black drum, flounder and bluefish. Most catches are occurring on live shrimp or sand fleas although artificials are working well for the pompano and bluefish. Beach fishers in the know are combining artificials with bait to ensure the bite. To entice a bite, try a pompano jig tipped with a small piece of fresh-cut shrimp.
On the flats, fishers are finding schooling redfish in good numbers. If you find these schools tending to get a little spooked, try using a cut piece of mullet or ladyfish to convince the fish to bite.
Also on the flats, spotted seatrout action is heating up. Soft plastics combined with a 1/4-ounce jighead are producing decent numbers of trout. Position your boat upwind of the flat to fish. Turn off your motor and drift over the flat, working soft plastics through the sandy potholes to locate fish. While targeting trout, expect to catch bluefish, ladyfish and even a few Spanish mackerel in the process.
Capt. Warren Girle is drift fishing in Sarasota Bay catching a variety of species. Using small bullet-head pompano jigs tipped with a small piece of fresh-cut shrimp, Girle’s clients are hooking up with pompano and permit in respectable numbers. Both species are 1-3 pounds. Along with pompano and permit, Girle is putting his clients on Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, spotted seatrout and blue runners.
On shallow flats during high tides, Girle is working schooling reds. He opts to use fresh chunks of cut ladyfish to get them to bite. A chunk of ladyfish or mullet is a good option when you find redfish that won’t respond to live shrimp or shiners. Simply cast out a chunk and let it lay on the bottom until an unsuspecting redfish discovers it and bites. Redfish up to 27 inches were the norm this past week for Girle.
Grady Smith at Island Discount Tackle says sheepshead are the highlight of the week. Pier fishers are buying dozens of shrimp and small strong hooks to cash in on these tasty striped fish. Most sheepies caught are 1-2 pounds, although fish up to 5 pounds are in the mix.
From fishers on the flats, Smith is hearing of decent spotted seatrout action. Most fishers targeting trout are using soft plastics combined with a lead jighead. Colors include white, chartreuse or green. You can also catch trout on live shrimp. Try using a popping cork rigged above your shrimp to keep it out of the grass.
Finally, Smith says fishers using live shrimp under docks are catching slot-size reds, although most are undersized. Casting weighted, live shrimp, fishers are reeling up reds, black drum, flounder and sheepshead.
Dave Sork at the Ann Maria City Pier says sheepshead are beginning to show, but the bite varies by day.
One day the bite is good, the next day they don’t bite. Pier fishers using live fiddler crabs or sand fleas are catching flounder along the edges and under the pier. Dragging a live shrimp along the bottom next to the pilings will result in some tasty flat fish for the cooler. Keeper-size flounder are a little scarce, although with a little determination, if the goal is to catch enough for the dinner table, it is attainable.
Although it’s a little early in the season, the occasional Spanish mackerel is being caught. Pier fishers casting Gotcha plugs or silver spoons stand a chance at catching one of these high-activity toothy fish. Along with macks, expect to catch bluefish and ladyfish.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says sheepshead are happening. Most fish are caught in the morning and live shrimp are dominating the bite. Pier fishers who normally use crabs or fleas are switching to shrimp — and those who regularly fish for sheepies know this is rare. Usually, the crabs and fleas work better but, like any true angler, adapting to what is happening is important for success.
There are still flounder inhabiting the pier. Most are being caught as a bycatch while targeting sheepshead. Average size of the flounder is 10-12 inches although a few respectable-sized fish have been caught.
Finally, pier fishers using small white jigs are catching bluefish, although the bite is inconsistent. These fish may not fare well for dinner, but their sheer power provides great action on light tackle. Remember to use pliers when removing hooks from a bluefish’s mouth. You don’t want to encounter their sharp teeth and strong jaws.
Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters says the past week included some exciting action.
He says the sheepshead are turned on, as big schools mass over structure, piers and around the local reefs for the spawn, “I have been throwing back any sheepshead under 15 inches and having no problems keeping enough for a tasty fish dinner,” Howard says.
When targeting sheepies, Howard is using a live shrimp rigged on a No.1 hook with enough weight to keep the rig on the bottom. “This leads to bent rods and smiles on deck,” says Howard.
Another simple rig is a weighted jig head with a shrimp on the hook. “The key to success is to get the bait to hold to the bottom and waiting for the thump of the sheepshead inhaling the bait. Feel for the pressure of fish pulling on the rig and set the hook in a strong sweeping motion,” Howard says.
He says redfish, black drum and sheepshead are thick under the docks along the Intracoastal Waterway and the Manatee River. “Toss your bait offerings deep under the docks and shade areas to connect with some close-quarters action. Getting the fish out of the structure quickly is key to landing these bruisers,” Howard adds.
Looking forward, Howard says the transition has begun from winter to spring fishing patterns. Look for schools of shiners to invade the flats in the bays as the water temperature gradually warms. When the flats reach 70 degrees, the spring bite will explode but the winter bite will remain strong until late March.
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Jerry Allen of Wyoming shows off a nice catch-and-release snook he hooked while fishing the nearshore waters of Anna Maria Island with Capt. Warren Girle.
Fishing between weather fronts proves prosperous
Following the typical pattern for winter, island fishers are getting out between the cold fronts. Between fronts, the weather has been stellar. Eighty degrees and light winds make for some good Florida fishing in February.
On the other hand, during the fronts, temperatures are plummeting into the 50s and lower 60s. Add 20-knot winds out of the northeast and the fish can be on the borderline of lockjaw. All considered, it’s safe to say that consistency of the catch can be somewhat lacking.
Reports of sheepshead are good, especially from the Rod & Reel Pier. This bite had been hit or miss the past few weeks, but it’s time for things to start happening. Numbers of fish around the piers pilings should visibly increase. Hopefully, catches also will go up in numbers. The artificial reefs are holding some sheepies, and in mixed sizes, too. To fish the reefs, live shrimp is a great offering. If you decide to fish the piers, shrimp is working the best, but plan on baiting fiddlers and fleas as the fish settle in.
Rumors of pompano being caught along the beaches of Anna Maria Island are floating around. Try fishing at sun up with a yellow or pink pompano jig to get a bent rod. If you find the pompano are being reluctant, you can entice them with a fat live sand flea. That’ll usually do the trick.
Finally, redfish are gathering along the mangrove shorelines in between the fronts. These fish are being caught a number of ways so be prepared to be creative. Live shiners are working late in the day, if you can find them. Shrimp are working, but only if you’re dock fishing for reds. You’ll also hear about chunks of ladyfish working as bait for these reds. Some anglers say this method of fishing can be boring, but that only lasts until they have a big red on the end of their line.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business charters is targeting redfish and catch-and-release snook on the flats of southern Tampa Bay and Sarasota Bay. Gross is using live shiners, although hard to come by, for bait. During afternoon high tides, Gross is locating schooling redfish close to mangrove shorelines. By free lining the shiners, Gross is catching fish in the upper-slot range.
Afternoon high tides are the key. Average size of the snook is 22-24 inches, although in recent trips Gross was finding lots of slot-size fish.
Spotted seatrout are in the mix. For these fish, Gross is drifting and jigging with soft plastics. The MirrOlure Lil John on a 1/4-ounce jighead will do the trick, according to Gross. Most of the fish being caught are in the slot, although some small fish are in the mix.
Capt. Warren Girle is adding a new bait to his repertoire for reds — fresh-cut ladyfish. By cutting small bite-size pieces of ladyfish and casting them into schooling reds, Girle is catching slot-size and over-slot size fish. He’s working grass flats adjacent to mangrove shorelines during the high tides to locate schooling reds. Fishing with cut ladyfish is a great alternative when other baits are hard to come by or aren’t working.
The highlight recently was a 38-inch snook that was caught on a chunk of ladyfish.
Spotted sea trout are being caught on Berkley Gulp shrimp jigged over grass flats of 3-5 feet in depth. Most trout being caught are in the 15- to 20-inch range although fish up to 24 inches are available.
Girle is still targeting pompano in Sarasota Bay with success. By tipping small pompano jigs with fresh-cut shrimp, his clients are reeling up 6-10 pompano per trip with a by-catch of mackerel, bluefish and ladyfish.
From the beaches, Girle is working the small artificial reefs to catch bonito, Spanish mackerel and bluefish. To catch these species, Girle is using a small silver rattletrap with a quick retrieve. To prevent losing lures to sharp teeth, Girle attaches 4 inches of light wire leader.
Jonny Keyes at Island Discount Tackle says pompano are making a showing along Anna Maria Island beaches. Keyes likes to use a pompano jig with a small stinger rig to attract the bite. By using these jigs, Keyes says you can catch a number of species. Bluefish, mackerel, jacks, ladyfish and whiting will anxiously snack on these jigs if presented to them.
Keyes is hearing of sheepshead action at the local piers. Best baits to be armed with are live shrimp or sand fleas. To catch live sand fleas, you need a sand flea rake — a handle with an enforced wire mesh basket/strainer attached. You simply drag this basket through the sand in the shore break and sift out until what’s left is sand fleas. If this sounds like too much work, you can find frozen sand fleas at your local bait shop.
From the flats, Keyes is hearing of decent spotted seatrout action on artificials. Most flats fishers are jigging with soft plastics to get a bite. Popular colors this past week were white and chartreuse. Keyes suggests DOA Cal jigs when the trout are biting. If the bite slows down, or it’s slow to begin with, Keyes suggests a 3-inch Berkley Gulp shrimp. He feels the added scent gives him an advantage when fish are finicky.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says the sheepies are cooperating and they’re eating shrimp. Pier fishers using either whole or fresh-cut live shrimp are going home with respectable bags of sheepshead fillets after a morning of fishing at the R&R. Average size of the sheepies is 1-2 pounds, although sightings of larger fish are being reported. As a rule of thumb, fiddler crabs and sand fleas will out-fish shrimp when targeting sheepies, but this week shrimp has been the bait of choice.
Similar to weeks in the past, black drum and flounder are rounding out the bite at the pier. Keeper-sizes of both species are being caught on live shrimp. If you’re specifically targeting flounder, try using a Berkley Gulp shrimp on a 1/4-ounce jig head. Cast along the edges of the pier and slowly drag your jig along the bottom adjacent to the structure.
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Holmes Beach snowbird Dick Stevens, also of Enfield, Conn., shows off the redfish he hooked up last week off his dock. Stevens says he’s traveled to many fishing destinations and Anna Maria Island is “one of the best.”
Winter anglers should target sheepshead, black drum
Sheepshead are beginning to make a good showing around docks, rocks and reefs in the surrounding waters of Anna Maria Island.
These fish are still pre-spawn, so expect to catch a lot of small males as well as some oversized females. From my experience in the past week, there are a lot of fish in the 2- to 3-pound range and fish up to 6 pounds are found every so often in the mix.
When fishing the reefs, live shrimp is a great way to fill the box. I like to break the tail off of the shrimp and insert a circle hook through the meat and out through the top of the shell. A properly-sized egg sinker resting just above the eye of the circle hook completes the rig. Some of you know this as a “knocker rig.”
When fishing the local piers for sheepies, you may want to try shrimp, but have some other bait ready if the shrimp doesn’t work. Live fiddler crabs and live sand fleas are popular among pier fishers looking to hook up some sheepies. First, the pinfish don’t seem to nibble these baits off the hook like they do shrimp. Second, either of these baits are hard for a sheepshead to pass up.
Finally, the best bait for sheepies, whether fishing piers or reefs, is a tubeworm, also called plumed worms. These worms live within drinking straw-sized tubes that poke out of the sand near the low-tide line.
Finding these worms can be tough, and there’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to digging them up and storing them for later use. With this said, a little determination can lead to a bountiful reward when using tubeworms for sheepshead bait.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business charters is working reefs and rocks in Tampa Bay for sheepshead. Gross is marking structure on his depth finder, then dropping a jig to mark the spot while he anchors the boat. By dropping fresh-cut live shrimp to the bottom, Gross’ clients are reeling up sheepshead to 4 pounds. As a bonus, Gross is catching keeper-size flounder in the same areas.
Moving to the grass flats, Gross is targeting redfish and catch-and-release snook. For both species, Gross is castnetting shiners for bait. With shiners running small, Gross suggests scaling down hook size and adding a popping cork. The cork keeps your bait out of the grass, and aids in casting small baits. Gross says he likes to use a Paradise popper rigged with 20-pound fluorocarbon tied to a No. 4 Owner mosquito hook.
Jamie Foster at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge South Fishing Pier is seeing a variety of action occurring just outside the doors of the bait shop.
To start, pier fishers using live shrimp are catching sheepshead and flounder around the pier structure. For the sheepies, fresh-cut live shrimp on a small stout hook is suggested. Add enough weight to the line to keep the bait next to the pilings and start fishing.
For flounder, a whole live shrimp fished on the bottom with either a hook and weight or a jighead works.
Pier fishers using silver spoons or Gotcha plugs are still catching Spanish mackerel and bonito toward the far end of the pier. You can simply stand on the pier and wait for the schools of either species to swim by feeding on bait, and quickly cast to the outskirts of the school to start plucking out your catch.
Capt. Warren Girle is working Sarasota Bay for a number of species. He’s drifting in search of pompano, using small, yellow bullet-head jigs tipped with shrimp, and his clients are reeling up keeper-size fish.
Along with pompano, expect to catch Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, trout and, if you’re lucky, a stray permit or two.
Moving north, Girle is targeting redfish around the mangrove shorelines at Long Bar in Sarasota Bay. Girle warns that you’ll need stealth to sneak up on them. For bait, Girle is using cut-bait or shrimp. Average size of the reds this past week was 24-28 inches.
Steve Oldham at Island Discount Tackle says it’s a good time of year to walk the beach just after sunrise in search of pompano. Arm yourself with a light spinning outfit and a pompano jig, and you’re in business. Simply walk the beach, plugging the jig until you locate the bite. Expect to also find bluefish, small mackerel and ladyfish.
Sheepshead are next on the list. Whether you’re fishing the piers or fishing structure from a boat, you can bet on catching some tasty convict fish. When fishing the piers, you may want to be somewhat strategic in your approach. Live fiddler crabs or sand fleas are a great offering but, if you’re really determined, you can’t go wrong with tubeworms. As labor intensive as this bait is to harvest, it’s worth it. Tubeworms are like candy to sheepshead.
Lastly, flounder are being caught along the island shorelines. Berkley Gulp shrimp on a red jighead is the ticket to catch some flat fish. Whether along the beaches on the Gulf side or in the canals on the bayside, flounder catches up to 20 inches are being reported.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says the sheepshead bite is happening. “We had a few days this week when they bit really well,” says Malfese.
Pier fishers using live shrimp are taking home dinner, while those willing to gather fiddlers or sand fleas are cashing in with sheepshead up to 2 pounds.
While targeting sheepshead, pier fishers are reeling up another black-and-white striped fish, the black drum. Black drum feed on the same baits as sheepies and commonly inhabit the same areas. Drum up to 5 pounds are being caught daily.
Finally, pier fishers using Berkley Gulp shrimp on a jighead at the R&R are reeling up respectable-sized flounder. Fish up to 18 inches are being caught by slowly dragging a jig along the sandy bottom next to the pier.
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Ken Kemp of Chicago shows off a pompano he caught on a shrimp/popping cork rig while fishing with Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime fishing charters.
Change of weather provides anglers variety of results
In between cold fronts, Anna Maria fishers are enjoying calm winds and calmer water, which in turn results in some great fishing. A variety of species are being caught by shore fishers and boaters.
On the beaches, shore fishers are using pompano rigs to target a number of species. Of course, pompano are the sought-after fish, but they aren’t the only fish feeding along the shorelines. Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, flounder and black drum are cruising the beaches in search of wintertime snacks. The pompano jigs will get you tied into any of these species, but you can also try Berkley Gulp shrimp on a jighead. When selecting baits to use on the beach, try to pick light colors, such as white, glow or chartreuse.
On the flats, fishers are catching decent numbers of spotted seatrout. Best approach to catch these fish is to drift and jig. Again, Berkley Gulp shrimp are a great offering, but DOA Cal jigs will get the job done, too. Plus, with the DOA’s, you get twice as many jigs for a lower price. While drifting, target sandy potholes on deeper grass flats to find the fish. Once you hook a trout, drop your anchor and thoroughly fish the vicinity.
Redfish are being reported around docks in sheltered areas of canals and the Manatee River. Live shrimp fished on the bottom are a great bait to target these dock-dwelling fish. I like to use a circle hook with a 1/4-ounce egg sinker that rests right on the eye of the hook for rigging. Remember to set your drag accordingly when fishing docks. Keep it tight enough that you can horse a large red out of the structure before it cuts you off on one of the pilings.
Jeff Medley at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge South Fishing Pier says migratory species such as Spanish mackerel, bluefish and bonito, are being caught on either artificials or live bait. For artificials Medley suggests Gotcha plugs or silver spoons. For live bait, you can’t beat a free-lined shiner.
Sheepshead and flounder are inhabiting the pilings and structures under the pier. For either pilings or structure under the pier. For either species, a live shrimp fished on the bottom will get the bite. If the sheepies become finicky, try small pieces of fresh-cut shrimp or switch to fiddler crabs.
Finally, night fishers on the pier are catching more bluefish then they care to keep. On certain nights, Medley reports, pier fishers are catching a bluefish on almost every cast. Live shrimp or a bucktail jig will get you in on this action.
Capt. Warren Girle was working inshore and offshore before the cold fronts. When temperatures are in the 80s, Girle is venturing out to nearshore structure to target grouper, then moving inshore.
For the offshore fishing, Girle is using live pinfish or shrimp depending on what he is targeting. Before the Feb 1 closure of grouper season, Girle was catching keeper-size red grouper on pinfish. Now the closure is in effect, Girle is using live shrimp to catch flounder, porgies and Key West grunts. Keeper gags are being caught although they must be released.
Moving inshore, Girle is drifting deeper flats in southern Sarasota Bay in search of pompano and the occasional permit. While targeting these species with jigs tipped with fresh-cut shrimp, Girle is catching bluefish, Spanish mackerel and ladyfish.
By fishing shallow flats, Girle is catching keeper-size redfish up to 26 inches. To find the reds, Girle is locating mullet schools, then casting Berkeley Gulp shrimp on a jighead right into the mullet. By doing this, he is catching the redfish that hunt among the mullet for small shrimp and crabs.
Steve Oldham at Island Discount Tackle is hearing of good action occurring from the beaches of Anna Maria Island. With a multitude of warm days and calm winds, beach fishing is becoming better and better. Beach fishers using pompano jigs or Berkley Gulp shrimp are catching a variety of species.
Those using pompano jigs are catching good numbers of bluefish and ladyfish as well as the occasional pompano. Also with these jigs, beach fishers are reeling up Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle and blue runners.
Beach fishers using Berkley Gulp shrimp on a jighead are taking home keeper-size flounder, as well as black drum, bluefish, ladyfish and even a few bonnethead sharks.
Finally, bait fishers on the beach are catching all of the above on live shrimp, either free-lined or fished on the bottom.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says fishing there was a little slow this past week but, as we all know, that can change in a moment’s notice.
Pier fishers with patience, determination and a little knowhow are catching black drum and sheepshead. When fishing gets tough, it’s time to try new tactics. When targeting black drum and sheepshead we know that shrimp works well, fiddler crabs and sand fleas work better and tubeworms work best.
Pier fishers in the know are going through the extra work to attain the better baits and in turn are the ones having success at putting dinner on the table.
Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters says fishing has been good with the weather and fish cooperating for most of the week. Redfish, black drum, pompano and spotted seatrout have been landed on his recent trips.
Spotted seatrout have been gathering in potholes on the flats, feeding on the moving tides. Many trout, are measuring up to 26 inches, have been chewing on a live shrimp rigged under a popping cork. The key is to make the bobber gurgle, Howard says. The sound will bring in the big predators and help to trigger a bite.
While fishing for spotted seatrout, the pompano have made an appearance in the area and are feeding on the popping cork-live shrimp combo.
Look for continued good spotted seatrout fishing, Howard says, as we move from our winter weather patterns to springtime.
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