Tag Archives: fishing

Calming winds result in great fishing in bays, Gulf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fishing – 05-03-2017

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Jack Martin of Perico Bay Club shows off a 31-inch bull red he caught while fishing the flats April 20 with Capt. Danny Stasny of Southernaire Fishing Charters.
Jack Folkert, visiting Anna Maria Island from Chicago, fished inshore April 24 and caught several redfish using shrimp and shiners. Jack was guided by Capt. Warren Girle.
Alison, Drew, Katelyn and Heidi Sawyer from Wisconsin fished April 19 in Sarasota Bay with Capt. Warren Girle. The used shiners for bait and their catch included trout, flounder and yellowtail jacks.

Inshore, offshore fishing heats up with rising temps

 

It may not be summer, but it sure is hot.

And the fishing is fired up around Anna Maria Island — holding strong in both the backcountry and offshore.

Flats fishing for catch-and-release snook is pretty darn good as long as the tide is moving. The same can be said for the hunt for spotted seatrout. Live shiners cast into sandy potholes in areas with deep grass areas are a surefire way to get onto these fish. Redfish are being caught, although not with the same frequency as the snook and trout.

Offshore fishing for migratory fish — amberjack, kingfish and cobia — is heating up, although you may have to travel some distance to get to the bite. In the 8- to 10-mile range is a good place to start looking. Blackfin tuna are being found around wrecks in the 15-20 mile range.

On my own fishing excursions with Southernaire charters, I’m staying in the backcountry to target catch-and-release snook — the season ended for snook May 1 — as well as spotted seatrout and redfish. I’m seeing an occasional flounder, as well as numerous bluefish, jack crevalle, Spanish mackerel and ladyfish.

For bait, live shiners are my go-to since pretty much everything we target this time of year will eat them.

I’m also using crabs for bait when I come across a finicky redfish that won’t take a shiner. Redfish up to 34 inches are coming to the boat.

Lastly, although it’s a little early, I’m starting to see rogue tarpon milling among the deeper grass flats of both Tampa and Sarasota bays. Most sightings are singles or doubles, which could be targetable to those ever-patient tarpon anglers in the flats boats who are willing to sit all morning at anchor just to get a shot at jumping a silver king.

Capt. Warren Girle is working the flats of Sarasota Bay. Spotted seatrout are the most prominent species being caught by his clients on the deep grass flats with sandy potholes and good tidal flow. These are prime areas to target dinner trout. Girle’s choice of bait is live shiners either free-lined or fished under a popping cork.

Also on the flats, Girle is seeing numerous snook. Rallies of catch-and-release snook are occurring during morning incoming tides on shallow flats where oyster bars or mangrove shorelines are present. Live, free-lined shiners are producing the bite. Most catches are running 20-24 inches, with larger fish in the mix.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is putting his anglers to work on the deep grass flats in southern Tampa Bay. A variety of species, including Spanish mackerel, bluefish and spotted seatrout, are being caught in these areas. Live, free-lined shiners are the bait of choice. Slot-size trout and keeper mackerel are going in the cooler, while the bluefish are quickly released to swim another day.

On the shallower flats, Lowman is finding an abundance of catch-and-release snook. Free-lined live shiners cast into sandy potholes are quickly being devoured by hungry schooley-sized snook. The 24-inch linesiders are both aggressive and eager to eat a shiner with a hook through its nose.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is catching redfish throughout the day-charter range. Redfish hotspots include areas where oyster bars are present or some other means of structure exist in the shallows, whether it be a dock, seawall or mangrove shoreline. To get a bite, Gross is casting live free-lined shiners in areas where he can see the fish or where they are likely. Slot-fish in the 18- to 27-inch range are being caught.

Catch-and-release snook fishing is going well for Gross, which is not a surprise. Gross is a seasoned snook angler of more than 30 years. Many under-slot fish are being caught by clients using shiners as bait. Slot-size snook are gently released until next season — starting Sept. 1.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing redfish being caught. Most catches are occurring on live shrimp, although pinfish or shiners are working, too. All reds being caught are over the maximum size of 27 inches. Fish up to 34 inches are not uncommon.

Catch-and-release snook also are hooking up with anglers at Anna Maria’s northern-most pier. The bite has really turned on now that snook season is closed. Most catches are occurring at night or in the early morning just prior to sunrise.

Capt. Jason Stock is in pursuit of big game in the nearshore and offshore waters west of Anna Maria Island. Cobia are making a showing around wrecks and reefs. Amberjack are  making their presence known. Live baits such as shiners, pinfish or cigar minnows are attracting the bite to Stock’s boat. Kingfish also are coming to these baits.

Permit, Stock’s specialty, are being found on calm days when the Gulf is slick. Live crabs sight-cast to these fish are resulting in multiple hookups, with fish up to 30 pounds being caught and released.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is spending his days with a fly rod in hand. By use of the well-known Clouser minnow patterns, White is teasing some of the schooley snook as well as some big trout and redfish to take the bait. Jack crevalle are another popular species to catch on fly. For one, they bite readily and two, they put up a fantastic fight when hooked.

Moving offshore, White is live-bait fishing for kingfish, blackfin tuna and catch-and-release gag grouper.

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

Inshore, nearshore anglers hook up fish aplenty

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Glenn Hoffert of Washington, D.C., shows off the 36-inch snook he caught — and “promptly revived and released” — while on an April 17 charter with Capt. Aaron Lowman. The linesider was hooked on a live shiner along a mangrove shoreline on 10-pound-test line. Hoffert and his kids also caught a mess of seatrout and a few redfish, according to Lowman.
Jack Martin of Perico Bay Club shows off a 31-inch bull red he caught while fishing the flats April 20 with Capt. Danny Stasny of Southernaire Fishing Charters.
Bud Sienkiewicz of West Seneca, New York, shows off the tuna he landed April 17 on a free-lined pinfish while drifting in 63 feet of water off Anna Maria with Bill DiMenna of Holmes Beach on his boat.

Despite an abundance of boaters throughout our region — just like traffic on the roads — the waterways also see increased use in high season and fishing around Anna Maria Island is putting smiles on anglers’ faces.

The inshore bite on snook and spotted seatrout is especially good, with daily limits on trout and plenty of rallies on snook.

Offshore, kingfish, Spanish mackerel, cobia, permit, amberjack and blackfin tuna are being reported. These fish are being found around wrecks and reefs and areas where hard bottom and ledges exist.

My results on Southernaire fishing charters include snook, redfish and trout — to name a few. I’m also seeing an occasional flounder, Spanish mackerel, bluefish and shark. For the snook and redfish, I’m targeting shallow grass flats during the incoming tides. Mangrove shorelines are usually present, although a little structure, such as oyster bars or seawalls, can be a great addition. The spotted seatrout I’m catching are hanging on the deeper flats — 7-10 feet in depth. Mixed in with these trout are bluefish, mackerel and an occasional blacktip shark.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is working the flats of Anna Maria Sound and Sarasota Bay, where he is encountering spotted seatrout, as well as Spanish mackerel and bluefish. This bite is occurring on deep grass flats while using live shiners as bait. On shallower flats, Lowman reports snook are ferociously responding to free-lined shiners cast along mangrove shorelines.

On his ventures into the Gulf of Mexico, where limestone ledges make up the terrain on the bottom, Lowman is finding mangrove snapper, mackerel, bonito and catch-and-release grouper.

Capt. Jason Stock is running clients offshore with good results. Live free-lined shiners, threadfin herring and cigar minnows are attracting the attention of many predators, including cobia, kingfish and amberjack. These fish are turning up around offshore wrecks and reefs.

Also found in these areas: the elusive permit. To lure these “garbage can lids” to the hook, Stock is sight-casting live crabs into schooling fish, resulting in permit up to 30 pounds.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is putting clients on fish on the flats of southern Tampa Bay and beyond. By casting live shiners along mangrove shorelines during the higher stages of the tide, Gross is leading clients to a variety of species. The snook, redfish and spotted seatrout hiding in these areas and are not safe with Fishy Business in the vicinity.

Also in Tampa Bay, Gross is hooking up with a mix of flounder, barracuda, bluefish and Spanish mackerel. All of these fish are being caught via live shiners as bait.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is hunting offshore reefs and wrecks for a variety of species. Kingfish, Spanish mackerel and blackfin tuna are White’s focus while working in the Gulf of Mexico. Live shiners as bait, as well as an array of cigar minnows, threadfin herring and even pinfish, are getting the job done.

Moving inshore, White is enjoying seeing spotted seatrout, snook and redfish being reeled to his boat.

Capt. Warren Girle is catching some fine fish on his runs in the Gulf of Mexico. By targeting structure — reefs and wrecks — Girle is hooking up clients with plenty of mangrove snapper and grouper. Kingfish, Spanish mackerel and an occasional cobia are showing up in these areas, too.

Moving inshore, Girle is finding an abundance of spotted seatrout throughout the deeper grass flats of Sarasota Bay, where shallower areas adjacent to mangrove shorelines or oyster bars are providing action on redfish and snook.

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

Clear waters, perfect weather results in opposite reaction

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Carter Foerster, 7, of Quantico, Maryland, shows off the redfish he caught April 13 with Capt. Danny Stasny of Southernaire Fishing Charters.
Richard Moore of Parrish shows off the beautiful red grouper he caught using a sardine in about 125 feet off Anna Maria Island on a charter with Capt. Larry McGuire. Everyone in the party caught the largest grouper of their life and a few snapper, according to Mcguire, who added the fishing improves with every trip on Show Me the Fish as the water warms up.
Charlie, 7, and dad, Jonathan Klein, of Louisiana show off their success from a trip in Sarasota Bay with Capt. Warren Girle. The pair used shiners and shrimp for bait and found success with trout, flounder, redfish and mackerel.

Although the weather is beautiful and the waters are clear, fishing around Anna Maria Island is challenging.

Some blame it on the recent cold front, others blame it on the full moon. Well, whatever it is, a good catch was tough to come by in the past week.

That said, the weather pattern we are experiencing is encouraging. Temperatures in the mid-80s every day with lows in the high 60s at night is the perfect recipe to get the fish back in the mood to take the bait from our hooks.

Everyday I’m seeing the water temps creep up a degree or two and I’m seeing the bite improve as well.

On my own Southernaire charters, we are mainly targeting snook and spotted seatrout, and the outgoing tides seem to be producing the best action for both species. I’m finding many snook along mangrove shorelines with water depths of 2-3 feet.

Most of the fish are schooley-sized, ranging 20-26 inches. These fish provide great action, but don’t do much for those who want a fish dinner.

That’s where the spotted seatrout come into play. Fishing sandy potholes during outgoing tides is yielding some beautiful trout for my clients. Many fish 18-22 inches are being caught on free-lined shiners cast into the potholes. Limits of trout are attainable, but I’m moving from one pothole to the next to keep the bite going.

All in all, these tasty fish provide great action for visiting anglers and local fishers alike. And they give the angler the benefit of an afternoon on the water with a fine meal to follow.

Capt. Warren Girle is working offshore for a variety of species. Bottom fishing around reefs and other structures is proving to be good for mangrove snapper. A knocker rig combined with a live shiner on the bottom is resulting in mangos up to 16 inches. Fishing the surface with free-lined shiners also is attracting a bite from king and Spanish mackerel. They’re readily taking baits in water depths of 40-50 feet.

Moving inshore, Girle’s targeting spotted seatrout. Slot-size trout 15-20 inches are being caught with some regularity. Mixed in with the trout are macks, bluefish and jack crevalle. Snook are being caught inshore on the shallow flats of Sarasota Bay.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is fishing the flats of southern Tampa Bay, where live shiners free-lined or under a popping cork are resulting in numerous spotted seatrout. Mixed in with the trout are an occasional mackerel or jack crevalle.

But it’s snook fishing that’s keeping Lowman’s clients busy. Free-lined shiners during outgoing tides around mangrove shorelines are resulting in many snook 20-26 inches. The occasional slot fish is being caught and quickly put on ice.

Capt. Jason Stock is taking his anglers offshore for permit. Live pass crabs sight-cast to schooling permit are quickly being devoured, resulting in permit up to 30 pounds. King mackerel and blackfin tuna also are being caught while offshore. Live shiners, cigar minnows or threadfins are Stock’s baits of choice for these fish.

Moving inshore, Stock is targeting big snook on the flats. Live, free-lined shiners or pinfish are resulting in slot and over-slot fish. Redfish and flounder also are being found on the flats.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is patrolling the beaches of Anna Maria Island for king and Spanish mackerel. Long shank hooks combined with live shiners are resulting in numerous hookups with the voracious fish. Also along the beaches and passes, White is finding cooperative permit. Live free-lined crabs are White’s bait of choice to catch these elusive fish, although, when crabs aren’t available, White is confident in Doc’s Goofy jigs.

On the flats, spotted seatrout are dominating the bite for White. Live shiners under a popping cork are working well as bait. Big trout in the 20-plus inch range are coming to the hook from the deep grass areas.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is fishing the flats of southern Tampa Bay for snook, redfish and spotted seatrout. While targeting snook, Gross is casting free-lined shiners along the edges of mangrove shorelines during outgoing tides. Most catches in these areas are 20-26 inches. Bigger, slot-size snook are being found in the same areas, although they aren’t biting as frequently as the smaller fish.

For the reds, the same scenario applies. Pull up to an oyster bar and the picture is complete. Reds up to 30 inches are being caught in these areas.

For the spotted seatrout, Gross is working deep grass flats on the incoming tides. Live shiners under a Cajun Thunder cork are producing a bite. Slot fish — 15-20 inches — are the norm.

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

Winds, slight temp drop can’t stop steady fishing action

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Ashley Meimzer shows off a 21-inch trout she caught between snook bites while on a fishing trip April 4 with Capt. Danny Stasny of Southernaire Fishing Charters.

With the winds blowing up to 25 mph for what seems like an eternity, fishing around Anna Maria Island is maintaining a steady bite for the determined angler or those who just don’t know better.

Spotted seatrout are being found in respectable numbers throughout the flats of Anna Maria Sound and Sarasota Bay. Free-lining live shiners or adding a popping cork to the rig is resulting in many fish 15-18 inches as well as a few over 20 inches.

Snook fishing is producing good action. On my Southernaire charters, we are finding plenty of snook to keep everyone busy. I’m also noticing more slot fish being caught than normal. Most catches are 20-26 inches, although fish up to 32 inches are in the mix.

Lastly, while targeting snook on shallow flats, I’m finding quite a few redfish — most ranging 16-20 inches. Larger “bull” reds are being caught around residential docks.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is working the flats for “gator” trout. These large trout — most exceed 20 inches — can be found lurking on deeper grass flats and in deep canals. By chumming the waters with live shiners and then casting a shiner under a popping cork, White is putting anglers onto these trout.

Snook fishing is providing good action for White’s clients. Many fish 20-26 inches are being caught on free-lined live shiners. Slot fish falling between 28-33 inches also are more frequent, according to White.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing sheepshead being reeled up to the deck, although the bite is not as aggressive as in past weeks. With the waters in Tampa Bay warming, the sheepies are dispersing. Pier fishers using live shrimp to target these convict fish also are hooking into over-slot redfish, flounder and an occasional snook.

Casting small jigs or silver spoons around the pier is resulting in bites from Spanish mackerel and jack crevalle. Large schools of glass minnows are gathering around the pier, which are a favorite food of the mackerel. Try to use small jigs or spoons to mimic this small slender baitfish.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is fishing the flats of Anna Maria Sound for spotted seatrout. Keeper-size trout are being found on the edges of flats adjacent to channels or sandy potholes. For the over-slot trout, Lowman is fishing very shallow flats against mangrove shorelines. Live shiners under a cork are working for both scenarios.

Snook fishing is quite good for Lowman, as rallies of schooley-sized fish — 20-24 inches — are keeping his clients’ rods bent. Mixed in with the snook are an occasional redfish.

Capt. Warren Girle is flats fishing in Sarasota Bay. Spotted seatrout, bluefish and jack crevalle are abundant on the flats where the depths run 3-5 feet. Live shiners under a popping cork are producing. Also, lead head jigs combined with a soft plastic will do the trick.

Fishing shallow flats in water of 3 feet or less is resulting in snook and redfish for Girle’s anglers. He’s finding numerous schools of snook along mangrove shorelines in areas sheltered from the wind. And the same areas are holding redfish, although most redfish catches are running over the slot of 27 inches and must be released.

Capt. Jason Stock is working offshore when the winds are light and seas reasonably calm. Permit up to 40 pounds are being caught and released around wrecks and reefs out 7-15 miles. Live pass crabs are Stock’s bait of choice, although jigs are working, too.

Moving inshore to avoid the wind, Stock is flats fishing for snook, redfish and spotted seatrout. According to Stock, the snook and trout are the dominant bite with an occasional redfish in the mix.

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

Fishing – 04-05-2017

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Kevin Karrip of Fremont, Michigan, shows off the whopper 33-inch redfish he caught on a March 30 charter with Capt. Danny Stasny of Southernaire Fishing Charters.
Taylor Knuth shows off the oversized redfish she caught and released March 30 while fishing inshore in Sarasota Bay with Capt. Warren Girle. Taylor is from Michigan and makes Anna Maria her annual spring break getaway.

Spring fishing results in rallies all around

 

Fishing around Anna Maria Island is finally exceptional.

Whether fishing inshore for snook, reds and trout or venturing offshore for permit and kingfish, anglers are returning to the dock with smiles on their faces and plenty of bragging rights.

Fishing the flats for snook is wide-open. Free-lining live shiners is resulting in rallies of fish. Chumming is helpful, although not necessary, as there are so many snook. With the water clarity being comparable to drinking water, light fluorocarbon leader and smaller hooks are a must.

On my charters with Southernaire, I’m finding success with 20-pound leaders and size-1 Owner hooks. This will suffice for catching schooley-size fish ranging 20-26 inches. When expecting to encounter slot or over-slot fish, I’m using at least 30-pound and sometimes even 40-pound leader.

Spotted seatrout have invaded the local flats from Miguel Bay south to Sarasota Bay. From up in the tower, I’m peering into sandy potholes and seeing amazing numbers of these famous flats-dwelling fish. Free-lined shiners cast into these potholes are resulting in many slot-size trout of 15-20 inches, as well as quite a few measuring 24-26 inches.

Also, dock fishing for redfish is exciting my clients.    Casting large shiners, pinfish and even cigar minnows under docks is resulting in redfish up to 33 inches. In these areas, I’m using heavier leaders, up to 40-pound test, due to the barnacle-crusted pilings.

Ultimately, even with 40-pound leader, you’re still taking a chance. The razor sharp barnacles will cut your leader like butter if the fish runs around the piling. If nothing else, the heavier leader gives the angler a little more confidence when trying to pull big fish out from under the dock.

Capt. Warren Girle is working offshore around artificial reefs, ledges and hard bottom. By using live shiners, Girle is putting charter anglers on an array of species, including king and Spanish mackerel, cobia, mangrove snapper and juvenile red and gag grouper. For the macks and cobia, free-lined baits are working well. As for the snappers and groupers, a bottom rig will suffice.

On the flats, Girle is finding loads of snook and spotted seatrout willing to take a bait. Live free-lined shiners or shiners under a popping cork are producing a bite for slot and over-slot trout. As for the snook, many fish 20-26 inches are being reeled up with an occasional slot fish between 28-37 inches.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is fishing offshore with good results. Cobia and kingfish are making a showing around reefs and wrecks. Chumming with live shiners is attracting these fish to within casting range. Large baits on a longshank hook are producing a bite, and kings in the 30-pound range are being taken.

Inshore, White is concentrating on snook fishing, where his anglers cast live shiners into potholes and around docks on low tides to yield action. On the higher tides, casting baits on the mangrove edges is resulting in a bite.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is fishing nearshore within 5 miles of the beaches for Spanish and king mackerel. Targeting large schools of “fry” bait is key to finding these toothy migratory fish. Also, while fishing nearshore, Lowman is using live shrimp to target hogfish, grunts and porgies.

Moving inshore, Lowman is putting clients on their share of snook and spotted seatrout. For the snook, targeting them on a strong tide is producing the best action. As for the trout, sandy potholes and shallow grass flats during incoming tides are best.

Capt. Jason Stock is running nearshore and offshore to structures for permit. By free-lining live pass crabs around wrecks and reefs, Stock is hooking his clients into fish up to 30 pounds. Also, while offshore, catch-and-release amberjack are available as well as mangrove snapper and cobia.

Moving inshore, Stock is in pursuit of snook and redfish. Slot-size fish are being caught on live shiners as bait. Grass flats where good tidal flow exists combined with mangroves or oyster bars are the key places to hunt either species, according to Stock.

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

Spring fishing action, temps on the rise

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Mathew Adler, grandmother Addy Rosenberg, mom Julie Adler and sister Jamie Adler show of their catch from a day of fishing with Capt. Warren Girle in Sarasota Bay. The Adlers came from Illinois to Longboat Key for spring break and found success in spite of windy conditions, catching their share of redfish and spotted seatrout.
Mike Schaffer of Miami shows off a slot-sized snook he hooked into along a mangrove shoreline using a live white bait while fishing with Capt. Aaron Lowman.
Ike Lovelass, visiting from Syracuse, New York, shows off his catch, the king of the beach, a smoker kingfish caught March 22 using sardines for bait in about 40 feet of water offshore of Anna Maria Island. His party also caught grouper and snapper on a charter trip with Capt. Larry McGuire.

Fishing around Anna Maria Island is shaping up again after a quick, passing cold front —hopefully the last cold weather as we greet spring.

We’re seeing water temps are on a steady rise and the fishing results, too.

Respectable numbers of snook are taking up residence on grass flats awaiting the large bait schools coming from offshore. Spotted seatrout are following suit, staging in areas where currents combine with deep grass flats adjacent to channels and troughs. Along the beaches, Spanish mackerel are free-jumping through schools of glass minnows and, just offshore, king mackerel are sky-rocketing from the emerald green waters.

On my own charters with Southernaire, I’m finding snook lurking in the mangrove-lined shores of spoil islands, as well as around sand bars and oyster bars. Live, free-lined shiners are working well for “less experienced fish” — the smaller ones. As for the slot-size snook, my anglers are getting a bite here and there.

Spotted seatrout are beginning to really turn on as the water temps rise. Many slot-size fish are finding their way into the boat, as well as some fish over 20 inches. Most of the 20-plus inch trout I’m catching are being found on shallow flats where the depth is less than 3 feet. As for the slot-size fish, deep grass flats where sandy potholes exist are prime hunting grounds.

Lastly, dock fishing for redfish is proving effective. Live shrimp on a knocker rig are producing bites from reds 20-26 inches. Also around docks, I’m finding black drum, mangrove snapper and flounder.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business is finding great action while fishing the flats of Tampa Bay south to Sarasota. Spotted seatrout are making their way onto the flats with many slot-size fish coming to the boat, as well as some over-slot fighters for lucky anglers. Snook fishing is really heating up, with many fish 20-26 inches being hooked.

Gross also is targeting Spanish mackerel in Tampa Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway, where fish 15-20 inches are the norm. Long shank hooks combined with free-lined live shiners are attracting fish for his clients.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is targeting snook on shallow grass flats where sandy potholes exist. Free-lined live shiners are being taken by 22-26 inch snook. Lowman reports slot-size fish are being caught in the same areas.

Spotted seatrout also are coming to the boat for Lowman’s anglers. Deep grass flats in 5-6 feet of water along channel edges are prime spots to target these fish, and live shiners under a popping cork are providing plenty of action.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is putting his anglers on red grouper in waters depths of 80-100 feet where there’s a hard bottom. Live bait, such as pinfish and shiners, are attracting attention from the bottom-dwelling fish. While working offshore, White is finding amberjack, kingfish and barracuda around the reefs and springs.

On colder days, White is targeting sheepshead around rocks and docks. Live shrimp as bait is resulting in sheepies up to 8 pounds. Black drum, redfish and flounder are being taken in these same areas.

Capt. Jason Stock is running charter fishers offshore for a variety of species. Although amberjack is out of season, catch-and-release action is keeping Stock’s clients with sore arms and great memories of a strong fighting hookup. Kingfish are in the mix and are being taken on slow-trolled threadfin herring.

When it’s time for table fare, Stock is bottom-fishing for red grouper and mangrove snapper. Both species are being taken on live baits — pinfish and shiners.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing plenty of sheepshead coming to the deck. Live shrimp, fiddler crabs and sand fleas are top baits for these zebra-striped fish. While targeting sheepies, anglers also are hooking into black drum, redfish, mangrove snapper and an occasional flounder.

Capt. Warren Girle is fishing the deeper grass flats in Sarasota Bay and surrounding areas, which is providing action for Girle’s anglers. By drifting and jigging, he is coming up with a variety of species for his clients to enjoy. Pompano, the targeted species, is being caught with some regularity. Mixed in with the pomps, anglers are attracting spotted seatrout, bluefish, ladyfish and jack crevalle.

Offshore, Girle’s clients are enjoying catches of mangrove snapper, juvenile red and gag grouper, grunts and porgies.

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

Fishing remains hot, even with cold weather

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Carson Smith of Roseville, Indiana, and Ed Ryan of Nashville, Indiana, share the results of their double hookup on their first casts. The pair were on a March 16 guided fishing trip with Capt. Danny Stasny of Southernaire charters. The two redfish were hooked on live shrimp.
Carson Smith of Roseville, Indiana, and Ed Ryan of Nashville, Indiana, share the results of their double hookup on their first casts. The pair were on a March 16 guided fishing trip with Capt. Danny Stasny of Southernaire charters. The two redfish were hooked on live shrimp.
John Muench of Prior Lake, Minnesota, proudly shows off his catch of a lifetime. Muench was wade-fishing on the bayside of Coquina Beach March 10 when this 38-inch linesider tried to inhale a small grouper that had already taken the bait on Muench’s hook. After a few photos for proof of the monster catch, the snook was released. Islander Courtesy Photo
Robin Carlstein, a recent transplant from South Africa to Longboat Key, caught two snook March 13 measuring 40 and 42 inches on shiners less than an hour apart. Both fish were released. Carlstein was guided by Capt. Warren Girle.

With March upon us, spring-break visitors from far and wide are coming to enjoy our sleepy little island.

Most visitors are here to escape the cold of the north with hopes of enjoying some warm Florida sun and beaches and take in a day of fishing. Despite a recent string of cold days, the spring breakers endure.

Fishing around Anna Maria Island is shaping up to its full springtime potential. Flats-fishing for snook is previewing what likely will be a stellar season. Rallies of snook are not uncommon when free-lining shiners around mangrove shorelines and lush grass flats.

Also on the grass flats, spotted seatrout are making their presence known. Live shrimp or shiners under a popping cork are being inhaled by hungry trout. Meanwhile, be ready to encounter bluefish, ladyfish and jack crevalle between trout bites. These fish may not be dinner fare like trout, but they provide much better action on light tackle.

During the cold front, fishing remained good as long as you were willing to change your tactics. I relied on my wintertime pattern of targeting sheepshead, redfish and black drum around residential docks and canals. By using live shrimp as bait, I was able to find action during even the coldest mornings. Although dock fishing may not be the most glamourous of backwater fishing, it provides action for my clients and puts fish in their cooler for dinner.

With temperatures back to normal March levels, it’s time to start stalking the backwater flats again. Snook, redfish and spotted seatrout will be on the feed and targetable for weeks to come. It’s also about time to start checking nearshore structure for mangrove snapper. Keep your eyes peeled for cobia, kingfish and Spanish mackerel, which will be around the reefs.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is catching slot and over-slot spotted seatrout. Working in areas where deep sandy potholes or channel edges combined with a grass bottom is producing the most fish. A live shiner under a popping cork is Lowman’s claim to fame on the trout.

Redfish and snook are being found along mangrove shorelines and oyster bars, where live, free-lined shiners are the bait of choice. Fishing during the stages of the higher tides is resulting in the best catches.

Fishing during the cold front was providing action despite strong winds and unseasonable temperatures by maneuvering around docks and seawalls. The result: Redfish and sheepshead, and live shrimp was the bait.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters, prior to the cold snap was fishing for Spanish mackerel in areas where hard bottom exists. Live shiners, free-lined on a 4/0 gold Aberdeen hook are attracting attention from mackerel in the 4-pound range.

Moving onto the flats, Gross is finding spotted seatrout ranging 16-18 inches. Bouncing from one sandy pothole to the next and casting free-lined live shiners is resulting in hookups. Snook and redfish are present on the flats. Again, free-lined shiners are the bait of choice.

Lastly, the cold front resulted in plenty of sheepshead. Fishing structure in Tampa Bay with live shrimp produced a bite for Fishy Business anglers.

Capt. Jason Stock is working the flats, where live shrimp and shiners are working on spotted seatrout, redfish and even a couple of snook.

Once the winds lay down and the sea flattens, Stock predicts the offshore bite will be exceptional. Amberjack, kingfish, cobia and mangrove snapper are all on the menu in the weeks to come.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters says fishing before the front produced many catches of snook, redfish and spotted seatrout. Morning incoming tides brought the best snook action, as well as a good redfish bite. For the spotted seatrout, fishing deeper grass flats with live shiners was producing action for his clients. Mixed in with the trout bite were jack crevalle, ladyfish and bluefish.

During the cold front, White fished rocks and docks for sheepshead and redfish. Live shrimp cast in these areas is producing a bite.

Capt. Warren Girle is working nearshore structure with good results on mangrove snapper. Live shrimp or shiners fished on a bottom rig are resulting in snapper up to 18 inches. Mixed in with the snapper bite are grouper, hogfish and white grunts.

On days with too much wind, Girle is hanging out on the flats of Sarasota Bay, where spotted seatrout and snook are providing action for Girle and his clients. He reports there’s plenty of schooley snook being hooked, as well as numerous slot-size trout.

During the coolest of days, Girle used live shrimp to entice redfish, black drum and sheepshead to the hook in the protected areas of docks, canals and seawalls.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing good numbers of sheepshead being reeled up. Fish 1-3 pounds are being taken with shrimp or fiddler crabs as bait. Mixed in with the sheepies are an occasional black drum, redfish and flounder.

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

Warm weather produces early spring bounty

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Foster and Stuart Hudsmith, visiting Anna Maria Island from Memphis, Tennessee, show off their cobia catch. They fished offshore March 10, hooking up numerous snapper and some cobia while using shrimp and white bait. They were guided by Capt. Warren Girle.
Joe Creadon, of Kingston, Illinois shows off his catch, a 10-pound redfish caught on a charter trip March 7 with Capt. Aaron Lowman. The fish took a live bait along the mangrove shoreline. Creadon hooked up with a half dozen more redfish, and some catch-and-release snook and seatrout.

With such a mild Florida winter, springtime fishing around Anna Maria Island is shaping up to provide some of the best bounty our waters have to offer. Snook fishing is red-hot and we haven’t even seen it at its best yet.

Spotted seatrout are making a good showing on the deeper grass flats throughout our region. Other species being found on the flats are redfish, pompano, jack crevalle and ladyfish.

Fishing structure in Tampa Bay and in the Gulf of Mexico is providing action on sheepshead. Artificial reefs, wrecks, residential docks and the local fishing piers are producing respectable catches of these most popular zebra-striped fish. Mangrove snapper, flounder and juvenile grouper are making a showing in these areas.

Fishing offshore is heating up, with catches of amberjack, kingfish and cobia being reported. Wrecks and reefs are superb habitat to find these species and, in our region, we have an abundance of such areas. The permit bite is being found around some of the wrecks, which should get better as the water temperature rises.

On my own fishing adventures with Southernaire, I’m finding the snook bite most entertaining. Rallies of schooley-sized fish — ranging from 20-26 inches — are providing great action for both skilled and not-so-skilled anglers. Rallies of 20-30 fish in a morning session are becoming commonplace.

With the sheepshead bite still going strong, I’m taking my time at the local reefs and wrecks. Live shrimp on a knocker rig is resulting in sheepies up to 6 pounds for my clients. While an occasional flounder or mangrove snapper is in the mix.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is working the flats of Tampa Bay with good results on snook, redfish and spotted seatrout. Using live shiners for bait is resulting in bites throughout the morning incoming tides. When targeting snook, Gross is taking clients to shallow flats where seagrass and sandy potholes are present. On some days, these flats are so shallow that Gross can barely maneuver his 23-foot Dorado to reach the fish. But, with the tide swiftly moving in, there is no fear of getting stuck. In these shallow areas, rallies of snook are occurring. Most catches are falling between 20-24 inches, with an occasional slot-fish mixed in. Redfish are in the mix.

For the trout, Gross is fishing deeper water where seagrass is present. On flats of 4-6 feet, many slot-size trout are present, as well as numerous fish, just under slot. Live shiners fished under a Cajun Thunder cork are proving effective in these areas. Mixed in with the bite are ladyfish, jack crevalle and an occasional Spanish mackerel.Capt. Warren Girle is running charters offshore on days when the winds are light. Fishing artificial reefs and ledges in depths of 30-60 feet is resulting in a variety of fish, including mangrove snapper, hogfish, Spanish mackerel, kingfish and cobia. Live shiners are producing the most action. When targeting hogfish, live shrimp is the ticket.

Moving inshore, Girle is catching spotted seatrout and redfish. While targeting the trout, Girle is using free-lined shiners or artificials such as soft plastics on a jig head. For the redfish, live free-lined shiners are working well around shallow flats where oyster bars are present.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says the sheepshead bite is in full swing at the northern tip of Anna Maria Island. Pier fishers are swarming to the deck with hopes of catching a few of these tasty fish to take home for dinner. An array of baits are working, including live shrimp, fiddler crabs, sand fleas and tubeworms. Most catches are 1-3 pounds.

Other catches at the R&R include Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper, pompano and snook. For the Spanish mackerel and pompano, small jigs tipped with shrimp are working. As for the snook, live shiners or pinfish are top producers. Those finding luck with the snapper are baiting shrimp or shiners on a bottom rig under the pier.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is fishing inshore among the flats of Anna Maria Sound, south to Sarasota Bay. In these areas, Lowman is finding snook along mangrove shorelines, oyster bars and channel edges. For bait, live shiners or shiners fished under a popping cork are producing a bite. Most catches are 22-26 inches, with a few slot-size fish in the mix.

Lowman is finding spotted seatrout increasing in numbers throughout the deeper grass flats. To target these fish, he’s fishing depths of 5-6 feet where clean water and lush grass exist. Live shiners under a popping cork are producing a bite, as well as artificials — the Berkley Gulp shrimp — combined with a 1/4-ounce jig head.

Capt. Jason Stock is working offshore, resulting in amberjack, kingfish and cobia while wreck fishing. Live baits such as shiners or threadfin herring are producing a bite.

Permit are being cooperative in these areas, where live pass crabs free-lined above the structure are resulting in screaming drags and sore arms.

Moving inshore, Stock is in pursuit of snook and spotted seatrout. For the snook, live shiners free-lined over shallow flats adjacent to mangrove islands are producing many schooley-size fish, as well as a few keepers. For the trout, Stock is using top-water plugs to attract a bite. Working these surface baits over shallow flats is resulting in over-slot, “gator” trout. Trout exceeding 20 inches or larger are exploding on these top-water lures, which is visually exciting for the angler.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is working inshore this week, where the passes of Longboat Key and New Pass are producing pompano. Doc’s Goofy jigs bounced off the bottom during slower phases of the tide are resulting in good numbers of these famous surf-dwelling fish.

Fishing the flats of Sarasota Bay is proving to be productive for snook, redfish and spotted seatrout. Live shiners free-lined or fished under a cork are White’s bait of choice.

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

Fishing – 03-08-2017

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John Johnson of Louisville, Kentucky, shows off his keeper, a 29-inch snook, hooked up March 1 — opening day of the spring snook season — while on a charter fishing trip with Capt. Aaron Lowman. Johnson released this fish, along with half a dozen other snook, as well as seatrout and some big jack crevalle caught by he and his wife.
Lauren and Rich Hunter along with Al Lewis, all visiting AMI from New Jersey, show off their March 2 nearshore catch of mangrove snapper and sheepshead. Capt. Warren Girle guided the trio of anglers and baited the catch with shrimp.
Catherine Sheridan of Chicago shows off a permit caught while fishing with Capt. Danny Stasny of Southernaire Fishing Charters.

The common snook — a common hookup for area anglers

 

Snook season is open. So, anglers from far and wide are visiting Anna Maria Island with hopes of hooking into the most famous of the famous in back country fishing.

Encouraging numbers of fish are making a showing in their typical springtime spots from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge south to Sarasota.

“Snook candy,” or scaled sardines, are the bait of choice to target the linesiders. Rumors of “snook rallies” are gaining frequency during morning sessions. Slot and over-slot fish are being taken occasionally, which makes the catch that much more rewarding. A trophy, you might say. Snook is a great fighter and prime fare for the dinner table.

On my Southernaire fishing trips, I’m finding good numbers of snook around shallow grass flats and around mangrove shorelines, where good tidal flow is occurring. Free-lining live shiners as bait is resulting in multiple hookups, especially during the late morning incoming tides. Most catches are 20-24 inches, with bigger fish in the mix.

I’m also catching plenty of sheepshead to finish out that season. All of the hype about snook fishing is really taking the pressure off the sheepies, which can result in a great catch.

A live shrimp on a 1/2-ounce knocker rig with a 3/0 circle hook are attracting sheepshead up to 6 pounds. Most catches are 2-3 pounds, which are prefect fish-fry fixins.

Lastly, spotted seatrout are rounding out the day. Live shiners and live select shrimp are working great for these flats favorites. Slot and under-slot fish are frequent with an occasional fish over 20 inches finding its way into the landing net.

Capt. Warren Girle is fishing offshore for a variety of fish. Mangrove snapper are making a good showing. Live shiners combined with a knocker rig and fished around structure are resulting in mangoes 15-18 inches for Girle’s clients. Fishing structure with live shrimp on the same rig is resulting in numerous sheepshead, as well as a few hogfish.

Moving inshore, Girle is still dialed in on the pompano bite. Drifting select deep grass flats and jigging shrimp tipped jigs is providing pompano bites, as well as ladyfish, bluefish and jack crevalle.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business is doing what he does best and that is snook fishing. Gross can be found around mangrove shorelines, where lush seagrass exists, casting free-lined shiners to unsuspecting fish. Rallies of snook 20-26 inches are being caught and released, with slot fish mixed in.

Other catches on the flats include spotted seatrout and redfish. For the trout, Gross is casting shiners under a Cajun Thunder cork into sandy potholes, where deep grass and clean water exist. Slot-size trout are most common, along with some over 20 inches. As for the reds, shallower water around oyster bars is the ticket.

Steve Leonard at the Rod & Reel Pier says the sheepshead bite still is occurring. Large numbers of these barnacle crunchers are now taking up residence under and around the R&R Pier, preparing to spawn. Pier fishers using live shrimp as bait are reeling up respectable numbers of sheepies, with some reaching 3-4 pounds. Mixed in with the sheepshead bite are flounder and a few black drum.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is targeting snook throughout the surrounding waters of Anna Maria Island. Fishing in areas where mangrove shorelines, clean water, oyster bars and lush seagrass are present is key for Lowman. Casting live, free-lined shiners is resulting in many schooley-size fish, as well as some slot-size fish for his anglers.

Fishing rock piles and reefs is yielding sheepshead, hogfish and snapper. Live shrimp on a knocker rig is producing the bite. Using live shiners or shrimp is working for the mangrove snapper.

Capt. Jason Stock is targeting snook in the bays and Intracoastal Waterway. Linesiders up to 35 inches are being hooked on live free-lined shiners. Mangrove shorelines and sandy potholes are where to look, according to Stock. Snook rallies are common, with as many as 50 fish being caught in a morning session.

Stock is working the flats for spotted seatrout and redfish, both taken via live shiners as bait. Expect to encounter slot-sizes of both species.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters also is targeting snook. Fishing sandy potholes adjacent to mangrove shorelines is yielding good numbers of linesiders for his anglers. Live shiners rigged with a popping cork and Mutu light circle hooks — White’s deadly combination — is prompting these fish to bite.

When not snook fishing, White is targeting deep grass flats for spotted seatrout. Again, the popping cork and the live shiner combo is proving to be a successful rig. Slot-size trout are being taken, as well as jack crevalle and ladyfish.

To learn how Florida’s snook permit program benefits the fishery, visit http://myfwc.com/license/recreational/saltwater-fishing/snook-benefits.

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