Fishing remains fair-to-good as red tide reaches beaches
Despite there being some patches of red tide in our local waters, fishing remains fairly good around Anna Maria Island.
Finding areas where red tide is not present is key to finding the bite.
As anglers search for clean water, you guessed it, so do the fish. In theory this could be like finding a gold mine. At times, concentrations of fish can be found to make for great action for the angler.
I found such a spot while hunting for spotted seatrout. While fishing an area where the trout bite is typically good, I ended up finding hundreds of trout — the bite was excellent. Every bait resulted in a trout.
Now I think the reason for the great abundance of these trout is they were fleeing the red tide. I don’t work for NOAA or Mote Marine Laboratory, so I can’t say this as fact, but I do know that for a couple of days in a row, when the red tide was present to the south, I fished this spot and caught more trout than normal. A lot more.
It makes sense the trout vacated the red tide areas and staged up in an area where the water was clear. And luckily it was all around my boat.
Capt. Warren Girle is fishing offshore with good results on a variety of species. By using live shiners as bait, Girle is catching cobia, mangrove snapper, flounder, Spanish mackerel and even a couple of kingfish. For the snapper, flounder and cobia, Girle is using a weighted rig to keep his bait on the bottom. For the macks and kings, a free-lined bait is most productive.
Moving inshore, Girle is catching over-slot redfish. Casting live shiners or fresh-cut pieces of ladyfish is working to attract a bite from these over-slot schooled up reds. The key to catching multiple fish is being able to quietly approach them without spooking the school.
Capt. Aaron Lowman is fishing inshore during morning high tides, which is proving prosperous for snook, redfish and spotted seatrout. For the snook and reds, Lowman is fishing mangrove shorelines or residential docks. Along the shore, live shiners are producing the most action. When fishing docks, free-lined baits are working. In some scenarios Lowman is adding a split shot to the rig to get the bait down deeper.
For the seatrout, Lowman is moving to deeper grass areas. Casting free-lined baits or bait under a cork is resulting in slot and under-slot trout. Mixed in with the trout are macks, ladyfish and jack crevalle.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says a variety of fish are being caught. As for this report, no red tide was detected at the R&R. Malfese said this may be why the bite is so good.
Pier fishers using live shrimp as bait are catching mangrove snapper, flounder, black drum and sheepshead. Those using shiners or pinfish on the hook are reeling up over-slot redfish and snook. Also, pier fishers casting artificials — silver spoons, Gotcha plugs or jigs — are hooking into macks, jack crevalle and ladyfish.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is guiding his clients inshore this week. Live shiners as bait are top producers while fishing the flats for snook, redfish and trout.
For Gross, fishing mangrove islands and oyster bars is providing good action on the snook and redfish. Morning high tides and the start of the outgoing tides are most productive. Deeper flats where spotted sea trout are present also are keeping rods bent. Casting free-lined live shiners in these areas is resulting in trout, as well as macks, jack crevalle and even a few flounder.
Fishing inshore and nearshore structure is producing a good bite for Gross’ clients. Large Spanish mackerel are on patrol in these areas and typically can’t resist a free-lined shiner on a long shank hook. Mangrove snapper are present in these areas and can usually be tricked by a knocker rig combined with a lively shiner sent to the bottom.
Capt. David White of Great White Charters is targeting spotted seatrout during early morning high tides. On these tides, the trout are up on shallow flats hunting shiners. On the edges of deeper flats, White is hooking up mangrove snapper on live shiners free-lined on these edges.
Redfish are being found by White when casting baits around residential docks and in sandy potholes during low tides. Chumming the fish that inhabit the flat is key to keeping them interested and within casting range of the boat.
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