Fishing around Anna Maria is worth pursuing, despite the past week’s windy days and chilly mornings.
Venturing into the Gulf of Mexico remains questionable due to rough seas. So most anglers are migrating to the bays and Intracoastal Waterway to find a bite.
Fishing in the shelter of residential canals and docks is resulting in catches of redfish, black drum and sheepshead. And on the flats, spotted seatrout, pompano, bluefish and jack crevalle are available. With both of these scenarios on the agenda, fishers are finding enough to keep them busy for a day of fishing — and some fish on the menu.
On my trips with Southernaire fishing charters, I’m doing pretty much the same. The pompano bite is consistent most mornings. At least as consistent as a pompano bite can be. Drifting and jigging with small shrimp-tipped jigs is the best plan of attack. Limits of pomps are available, depending on the determination of the anglers.
Sheepshead, redfish and black drum are being found around local docks and areas on the flats where oyster bars or limestone bottom exist. A live shrimp on a 1/2-ounce knocker rig is getting plenty of attention for my clients.
Lastly, drifting and jigging with soft plastics, such as the DOA CAL jig, is yielding spotted seatrout, ladyfish, bluefish and jack crevalle. Casting these jigs into a sandy pothole on the grass flats is most productive. Also, casting around channel edges and the mouths of canals is a good bet.
Capt. Warren Girle is fishing inshore, around the flats of Sarasota Bay and the surrounding waters. Due to a string of windy days, inshore fishing is proving to be the ticket. Casting in the canals around rocks and docks is resulting in redfish, black drum, sheepshead and flounder for his clients. For bait, live shrimp is Girle’s choice.
Fishing the deeper grass flats in Sarasota Bay is providing action for Girle. 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 pompano bite, anglers are attracting spotted seatrout, bluefish, ladyfish and jack crevalle.
Capt. Aaron Lowman is working the inshore routine as well. Casting Berkley Gulp shrimp on a jig head under and around residential docks and seawalls is resulting in redfish, black drum and flounder. This practice is a good skill to have, especially on days when the wind is blowing and the seas are rough. Being able to produce fish in canals — where the waters are calm — is more pleasurable, for both clients and captain, rocking and casting in rough seas.
On calmer days, Lowman is fishing some of the inshore reefs. By using live shrimp as bait, he’s putting anglers on numerous sheepshead and few flounder.
Lastly, drifting the grass flats and jigging is producing a pompano bite for Lowman. Small jigs tipped with shrimp are attracting attention from pompano, ladyfish and jack crevalle.
Capt. Jason Stock is hanging near shore this week due to strong winds and rough seas. By fishing the flats in the waters surrounding Anna Maria Island, Stock is catching spotted seatrout. The use of artificials such as soft plastics or top water plugs is producing good action for Stock and his clients. On days when the artificials aren’t living up to their potential, Stock is hooking up small live pinfish as bait to entice the trout.
On days with light winds, Stock is venturing to nearshore structure where live shrimp are producing hogfish, porgies and grunts.
Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is finding sheepshead by casting live fiddler crabs on a weighted jig under docks, where he’s also putting clients on a few mangrove snapper.
For fly fishers just looking to bend a rod, White is tying a finger-mullet pattern for good results on jack crevalle, ladyfish and catch-and-release snook.
Steve Leonard at the Rod & Reel Pier says sheepshead are the primary catch at the northern-most pier on Anna Maria Island. While large concentrations of sheepies have yet to show up, persistent anglers are managing to pull a few up on the boards. While targeting sheepshead with live shrimp, anglers also are hooking up some redfish and black drum.
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