Tag Archives: fishing
Sebastian Sanders, 6, of New York City, was surprised to catch this 70-pound tarpon on 20-pound test. It took 1 1/2-hours for Sanders to reel this monster to the boat for release.
Migratory fishing action still hot in local waters
If you haven’t yet had your fill of Spanish mackerel and kingfish, you can still get in on the action.
Try fishing artificial reefs just west of Anna Maria Island to find the migratory fish. Live baits such as shiners and threadfin herring are producing the best bite, although trolling big-lipped plugs or spoons are working, too.
When fishing kings and mackerel on my charters, I’m using a 12-inch piece of 25-pound hardwire connected to a 2/0 long shank hook with a haywire twist. With a 30-pound swivel attached to the other end of the wire, I tie about 4 feet of 40-pound fluorocarbon and make a double uni-knot to connect my line. Using a wire leader, you’re able to prevent the kings or macks from cutting you off. If you’re fishing water that is very clear, you may need to omit the hardwire to get the bite. In this case, try using 50-pound fluorocarbon tied to a 4/0 extra-long shank hook.
While targeting mackerel at the reefs, expect to encounter barracuda, shark, jack crevalle and blue runners. Also while at the reef, try bottom fishing flounder and mangrove snapper. Now is a good time to catch these species, and they taste a lot better than mackerel.
Jeff Medley at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge South Fishing Pier says Spanish mackerel and kingfish are still dominating the bite there. Pier fishers using artificials, such as Gotcha plugs or Clark spoons, are reeling up limits of macks in the 2- to 3- pound range. The same applies for the kings, although when specifically targeting them, pier fishers are using live baits — small blue runners or large greenbacks, resulting in kings up to 46 inches.
Gag grouper are still providing rod-bending action at the pier. Pinfish or large greenbacks fished on the bottom are the baits of choice. Average size of the gags this past week has been up to 30 inches.
Finally, pompano are making a showing at the south pier in the shallow water near the landside. To target these tasty hard-fighting fish, try using Love’s lures pompano jigs. The color of choice is a combination of pink and yellow.
Capt. Warren Girle is fishing beachside with nice catches of gag and red grouper. Trolling with Mann’s Stretch 30s or 25s around the artificial reefs, Girle is reeling up gags up to 32 inches. The same applies for the red grouper with fish up to 22 inches.
Moving in closer to the beach, Girle is live-baiting kingfish and Spanish mackerel. Using shiners, Girle is catching kings up to 36 inches. For the macks, Girle is using smaller shiners, resulting in fish in the 3- to 4-pound range.
Finally in the backcountry, Girle is working sandy potholes in search of redfish, spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook. For these fish, live baiting with smaller shiners is the ticket. Simply work some potholes on the grass flats and free-line your baits through for reds up to 30 inches and trout up to 21 inches.
Johnny Keyes at Island Discount Tackle says a variety of inshore and migratory species are being caught around the piers and beaches. Both of these areas are convenient for folks visiting Anna Maria Island due to the fact that they are accessible without a boat.
On the beaches of Anna Maria, fishers are finding success walking the shoreline using artificials such as Gotcha plugs, silver spoons and soft plastics. On the shiny lures like the Gotcha’s and spoons, beach fishers are catching Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, jack crevalle and blue runners. When targeting these species, Keyes suggests walking until you find shorebirds diving on bait schools. Once you do, start casting into the bait for a hookup.
Beach fishers using Berkeley Gulp shrimp are hooking into keeper-size flounder and an occasional pompano.
Those opting to fish the piers are reeling up good numbers of macks on Gotcha plugs and white speck rigs. Along with mackerel, expect to catch ladyfish and jack crevalle.
Also on the piers, anglers using shiners are catching flounder, mangrove snapper and catch-and-release snook. Don’t be surprised to pull up the occasional redfish, too.
Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters reports an action-packed week with a variety of fish chewing like it was their last meal.
On the nearshore waters, good weather has produced calm, flat seas and the fish are responding. Howard suggests looking for diving birds to locate schools of mackerel, kingfish, bonito and sharks as they hunt the massive bait schools forming in the Gulf.
This past week’s tides provided some exciting inshore rallies and some nice fillets for dinner. The redfish, spotted seatrout and flounder have been very active and are feeding on live shiners. Catch-and-release snook have been moving slowly off the beach on their way back to the mangrove bushes. “Look for the snook bite to explode as the fall season comes into its sweet spot,” Howard says.
The fall season offers some of the best fishing opportunities available on our waters, Howard says. Look for the frenzy to stay strong until after the first good cold front in December.
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Jim Keyes of Island Discount Tackle, son Christian, 6, right, and Antonio Hiscox, 7, show off a king mackerel they hooked off the beach while fishing with Capt. Danny Stasny.
As area water temps drop, fishing heats up
Politics may be heating up, but everyone agrees fishing is great as the weather and the waters around Anna Maria Island begin to cool off.
Migratory species are on their fall southern migration, which is providing excellent fishing. King and Spanish mackerel are swarming bait schools within a mile of the beaches. Jack crevalle, blue runners and ladyfish are doing the same within casting distance of the shoreline. Also along the shoreline are flounder, whiting and pompano.
On the grass flats, expect to find good numbers of spotted seatrout around sandy potholes. Top-water plugs used in the early morning are a sure way to get some explosive action and some big trout. As the sun gets higher in the sky, switch to soft plastics on a jig head.
Redfish are schooling on flats from Terra Ceia Bay south to the Ringling Bridge. Once you locate a school, quietly approach it and fish with artificials like gold spoons, top-water plugs or soft plastics. Remember, when these fish school up, they see a lot of pressure from anglers, so go early and be the first boat to fish them.
Also, catch-and-release snook are moving from the beaches and passes onto the grass flats and into the bays. Live bait fishing with shiners is a sure-fire way to hook up these highly sought after game fish.
Jeff Medley at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge South Fishing Pier is seeing plenty of migratory species feeding on the abundance of flushing baitfish under the pier. Spanish mackerel and schooley kingfish are gorging themselves on scaled sardines and threadfin herring. Pier fishers using Gotcha plugs are cashing in on the action with limits of Spanish mackerel. As for the kings, most are running under the minimum 24 inches, although you never know when a 30-pound smoker will hook up.
Along with mackerel are jack crevalle, blue runners and ladyfish. You can catch these on the same plugs as for the macks and kings, and silver spoons and various colors of small buck-tail jigs will work, too.
Gag grouper are still being caught. Keeper-size fish of 26 inches and up are being caught on live pinfish and small blue runners. Try casting these baits out to the artificial reef on the south side of the pier to find some hungry grouper. Remember, we only have until Oct. 31 to harvest these fish, so now is the time to stock up.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says redfish are taking up residence around the pier. “I saw one red that measured 40 inches,” says Malfese, “but the rest that are being caught are slot-size fish.”
Pier fishers using live shiners, pinfish or shrimp are getting in on the action. To target these fish, try using a heavy split shot to keep your bait under the pier and on the bottom.
Flounder and mangrove snapper also are coming to the pier deck. To catch these species, fish the same as you would the reds. These fish also like to hang around the structure, close to or on the bottom. Average size of the flounder is 12 inches, although fish up to 16 inches are being landed. For the snapper, fish at the minimum of 10 inches are the norm.
Now that the baitfish are back at the pier, the migratory species are back, too. Don’t go to the pier without a couple of Gotcha plugs, silver spoons or white speck rigs. For the macks, expect to catch fish up to 18 inches to the fork of the tail. As for the ladyfish and jacks, fish up to 2 pounds are the norm.
Capt. Warren Girle is taking charters to offshore structure in search of gag grouper. Trolling big-lipped plugs like the Mann’s Stretch 30 is resulting in gag grouper up to 30 inches in water depths of 40 to 45 feet.
Once his clients have limited out on grouper, Girle is switching to bait fishing. Anchoring over structure, Girle drops live shiners to the bottom to target mangrove snapper and Key West grunts. Mangrove snapper up to 16 inches are the norm. As for the Key West grunts, there is no size or bag limit.
Also around the structure offshore, are Spanish mackerel, bonito and king mackerel. For these species, Girle is free-lining live shiners behind the boat. To get the target in a feeding mood, Girle likes to simultaneously chum and cast live shiners.
Moving inshore, Girle is targeting Sarasota Bay redfish with good results. Using top-water plugs or soft plastics on a jig head, his clients are bringing in bull reds in the 29-inch range. In the same areas on the same lures, he is catching spotted seatrout up to 23 inches.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business charters is working southern Tampa Bay and Anna Maria Sound for some great flats fishing action. Using live shiners for bait, Gross is leading his clients to a variety of backwater species.
To start, Gross is locating redfish on lower tides around mangrove edges adjacent to deep sandy potholes. Chumming with live shiners, Gross is getting reds on the hook in the 18- to 22-inch range, although fish up to 27 inches are being caught.
In these same areas, Gross is finding a good catch-and-release snook bite. Most snook are in the 20- to 24-inch range.
Finally, Gross is fishing deeper grass flats for spotted seatrout. Gross likes to find large flats that are peppered with sandy potholes when targeting trout. By moving from hole to hole, he is able to produce limits of keeper-size fish for his anglers.
Johnny Keyes at Island Discount Tackle is hearing of good action around the fishing piers on the north end of Anna Maria Island and around Bean Point. Fishers using artificials, such as Gotcha plugs, spoons and jigs, are catching a variety of migratory species — Spanish mackerel, blue runners, jack crevalle and ladyfish. From the beach casters, Keyes is hearing of similar catches, including pompano and flounder.
From the grass flats, Keyes is hearing of schooling redfish. Breeder schools of these fish are appearing anywhere from Terra Ceia Bay to the north all the way to southern Sarasota Bay. You can either live-bait fish these schools or use artificials, such as gold spoons, top water plugs or soft plastics.
Fishers at nearshore structure are catching good numbers of macks, shark and barracuda, Keyes reports. Best bet to work the reefs is a live well full of shiners. Once you’ve caught some macks, try using them for bait for the sharks and ’cuda and hang on for some drag-screaming action.
Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime fishing charters reports an exciting week of fishing, thanks largely to the cooler water temps.
“On a recent trip we hooked mackerel, kingfish, cobia and big spinner sharks and blacktips,” Howard says.
“The spinner sharks, are some of the most exciting fighters in our waters with leaps 10 feet out of the water. It is a sight to behold,” he said.
Howard suggests upsizing your tackle for any chance of landing these toothy predators.
Inshore fishing has been good with trout, redfish and catch-and-release snook chewing on the moving tides. Shiners are Howard’s bait of choice for the trio.
Flounder have been feeding, with some nice-sized doormats mixed in the bunch.
“This weeks ‘High Hook’ went to Cindi Heinz with a 37-inch snook landed from a nearshore reef on a mackerel rig,” said Howard.
Looking forward, the coming high tides will provide excellent opportunities. Howard recommends following the tides up onto the flats and into the bushes as you work the fish, “Remember to keep the slack out of your line to be able to feel the thump of the fish as it inhales your bait offerings.”
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Kevin Overstreet of Tampa and friends enjoyed a day fishing with captains Mike Kasten and Chris Galati of the Galati fishing team on the Miss Anna Maria. Galati said they noted the kingfish are here, as they hooked up with gag grouper and mango snappers to 9 pounds in the Gulf of Mexico waters. Islander Photo: Courtesy Chris Galati
Fishing peaks with more common, cooler weather
As fall shifts into forward, fishing around Anna Maria Island doesn’t cool off, it gets hotter — and the weather brings a variety of species to target. Local fishing is ready to peak and we should have weeks of great action before the chill of winter.
Migratory species such as bonito, Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle and blue runners are ravaging bait schools while on their way south to warmer waters.
On the flats, redfish are schooling in unbelievable numbers and will hit just about anything you cast in front of them.
Catch-and-release snook are moving from the beaches back to the flats to fatten up before heading for the warmer waters of creeks and rivers where they spend the winter.
Flounder are taking up residence along the beaches and shallow water reefs in exceptional numbers.
And, with only a few weeks of gag grouper season left, its time to get out and fill the freezer with some tasty fish.
No matter what type of fishing you enjoy, now is the time to get out and experience some of the best action of the year.
Capt. Mark Howard says the fishing has turned on. Catch-and-release snook, spotted seatrout and redfish have been feeding on the abundant schools of bait gathering at the mouth of Tampa Bay and on the flats.
Redfish have been all over the flats, gathering in schools on the incoming tides and feeding heavily on shiners. Howard suggests using a popping cork to keep the bait out of the seagrass.
He has been fishing potholes close to the mangroves and chumming with shiners to get the bite fired up. Dock fishing for reds has produced good results last week. “Cut off the tail of the shiner or pinfish to cripple the bait and use a split shot to keep the bait tight to the pilings,” Howard says. Catch-and-release snook are feeding in the same areas as the redfish.
Spotted seatrout have been steady with some nice keepers mixed in the schools. Howard says, “Use a circle hook and fish over grass 2 to 8 feet deep to get a nice bag of fillets.” The gator trout have been in very shallow water in the early mornings feeding on shiners. The speckled trout bite should only get better with the advancing fall weather.
Looking forward, the tides will present some excellent fishing opportunities with a strong falling tide in the afternoon as we move toward the new moon. The steady move toward lower water temperatures will increase the fishing opportunities in our area. “Look for the near-shore fishing scene to explode as the baitfish make their run south and the predators follow the bait migration,” Howard says.
Johnny Keyes at Island Discount Tackle also is hearing of good action occurring just off the beaches of Anna Maria Island.
Beach fishers targeting migratory species such as Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, blue runners, jack crevalle and shark are reporting great action during the morning hours. For everything but sharks, beach fishers are using silver spoons, white buck-tail jigs or Gotcha plugs to hook up. Those wanting to catch shark are using small chunks of Spanish mackerel or jack crevalle on a shark leader to bend a rod.
Flounder are making a showing on the beaches. Try bouncing a buck tail jig tipped with a piece of squid or a strip of Berkley Gulp to get these flatties to bite. Best areas on the beach to find flounder will contain structure such as piers, natural reef or rock bottom.
Capt. Warren Girle is fishing Sarasota Bay in search of schooling redfish. The experienced Girle is finding these schools with little effort. Once located, Girle is using artificials such as top water plugs to get these schooling fish to bite. Average size of the reds is 24-27 inches with bigger fish mixed in.
On deeper grass flats, Girle is catching spotted seatrout and bluefish on soft plastics. By using a 1/4-ounce jig head combined with a MirrOlure Lil John, Girle is managing to catch trout up to 22 inches. The bluefish are being caught in the same areas, on the same lures and are averaging 4 pounds.
Jeff Medley at the South Pier bait shop on the south Sunshine Skyway bridge fishing pier is seeing Spanish mackerel ravaging schools of bait fish whether the tide is incoming or outgoing. And even though it’s a few weeks early, kingfish are beginning to get in on the action.
“On more than one occasion,” says Medley, “I’m seeing Spanish mackerel being caught and then eaten by kingfish before they can be landed onto the pier.”
Most kings being caught are schooley-size, 20-30 inches, although fish up to 50 inches are being hooked. Best bet to catch either the Spanish or the king mackerel is to use silver spoons or large Gotcha plugs. You may want to try using live shiners, too. If you’re targeting the kings, try bout 8 inches of 29-pound hardwire attached to a stout 2/0 hook. Bait up with the biggest shiners you can find and cast it out around the school of feeding fish.
At night, pier fishers are catching good numbers of mangrove snapper and flounder. Using either live shiners or fresh-cut pieces of a shiner, pier fishers are reeling up mangrove snapper in the 16-inch range. The same applies for flounder, although fish up to 20 inches are being caught nightly.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business fishing charters is fishing southern Tampa Bay for redfish. By targeting schooling fish, Gross is leading his clients to non-stop rod-bending action. Once Gross locates a school, he anchors the boat and chums with live shiners to keep the reds in the area. Average size of the redfish has been 18-25 inches.
In the same areas as the redfish, Gross is managing to hook up some catch-and-release snook. Most are in the 22-inch range, although fish exceeding 30 inches is common.
Moving to deeper grass, Gross is targeting spotted seatrout. Again, Gross is anchoring and chumming to get the bite going. By doing this, Gross is attracting Spanish mackerel to the boat, which adds a little variety between hookups.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing Spanish mackerel being caught as long as there are plenty of bait schools around the pier. “When the bait is here,” says Malfese, “so are the mackerel.” Small white jigs or silver spoons are getting the job done. Average size of the macks this past week was 18-20 inches.
Pier fishers targeting other species are managing to pull black drum and mangrove snapper out from underneath the pier. For either of these fish you can use live shiners or shrimp to get hooked up. To be successful, try using some 20-pound fluorocarbon leader with a split shot and a live bait hook for your rig.
On a final note, Malfese says earlier in the week, they had 11 manatees that decided to spend a couple of hours hanging around the pier. In the gin-clear water, Malfese spotted a cobia riding along with one of the manatees, although no one was able to cast a bait quick enough before the cobia saw the pier and departed.
It just goes to show, you never know what to expect on a trip to the Rod & Reel Pier.
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Carl Pearman of Anna Maria shows off his trout catch.
Island anglers see fall species in arrival patterns
Signs of fall are all around us. There are cooler morning and evening temperatures — welcome relief — and Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, bonito and blue runners are beginning their fall migration.
Although we are in the very early stages of the migration, good numbers of all these species are making a showing in Tampa Bay and just off the beaches.
Remember, as this migration occurs, with it comes some excellent shark fishing opportunities. With all the activity in the water, sharks can’t help but follow schools of mackerel and bonito to feed. Expect to see sandbar, bull, spinner, blacktip and hammerhead sharks in the mix of schools of mackerel and bonito chasing bait.
Although many of these species aren’t the best table-fare, they do provide some of the best and consistent rod-bending action you’ll find on the Gulf Coast.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing good numbers of Spanish mackerel being caught daily by both live bait fishers and those using artificials. Those using live bait are catching their shiners with a Sabiki rig.
The rig to use when using shiners for bait is simple. Connect 3 feet of 30-pound fluorocarbon to your main line and tie a 1/0 long shank hook to the end. Stab your hook through a shiner, cast it out and hang on tight — when mackerel are feeding, they’re known to swim at speeds of 45 mph. With this in mind, it wouldn’t take much to pull an unattended rod right off the pier if the angler’s not paying attention. Average size of the macks this past week was 18-20 inches to the fork of the tail.
Plenty of other migratory species are arriving at the Rod & Reel to feed on the vast amount of baitfish that are congregating there. Expect to see jack crevalle, ladyfish, blue runners and skipjacks in the mix, all providing action between mack strikes.
Be aware that the skipjacks have poisonous spines on their dorsal and anal fins. Use caution when releasing them to avoid being poked by its spines. If you get stuck, you’ll know it. A sharp pain and some tingling in your hand may last for 5 to 10 minutes —you’ll be fine.
Lastly, Kilb says he’s seeing some nice redfish being pulled out of the shadows of the pier. Live shrimp, shiners and pinfish are proving successful to get these bottom-feeders to bite. Average size of the pier reds have been 20- to 22-inches, although some large, over-slot fish are being reeled up, too.
Jeff Medley at the south bait shop on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge Fishing Piers says Spanish mackerel are dominating the bite. Artificials like Gotcha plugs, Clark spoons and crappie jigs are getting the bite, although live greenbacks are catching plenty of fish. Make sure to use a long shank hook to prevent getting cut off so often. Macks up to 29 inches are being caught on a daily basis.
And macks that measure 29 inches are almost unheard of, so to hook up your all-time biggest, fish now.
Mixed in with the mackerel are blue runners and jack crevalle. The blue runners are in the 1-pound range, while the jacks are pushing 3-4 pounds. You’ll catch these fish while targeting mackerel. Be prepared to wear out your arm on non-stop action.
From under the pier, live bait fishers are pulling up good numbers of keeper-size mangrove snapper and flounder. Live shiners or shrimp are proving prosperous. Remember, when bottom fishing around the pier, try to fish during the slower tides, as this makes it easier to keep your bait on the bottom.
Finally, Medley says good numbers of sheepshead have inhabited the pier. Pier fishers using live shrimp are catching a few, although more are being seen than caught. It’s a little early for the sheepshead bite to begin. Best bet is to use live fiddler crabs or tube worms for bait, if you can get them.
Capt. Warren Girle is fishing offshore for gag grouper and mangrove snapper with good results on live shiners or pinfish. Starting at depths of 75 feet, Girle is reeling up snapper in the 18-inch range. Gag grouper also are being caught with the biggest coming in at 24 inches.
In the same water depths, Girle is catching a few kingfish. By free-lining large shiners or threadfins behind the boat, Girle is catching kings up to 36 inches.
Moving inshore, Girle is working the flats of Sarasota Bay in search of redfish, finding his target during high tides around mangrove islands and lush grass flats with scattered potholes. Upper slot reds are being caught daily.
On deeper flats in the middle of the bay, Girle is catching keeper-size spotted seatrout. Live shiners under a popping cork are working to get the bite. And on the beaches, Girle seeks out Spanish mackerel and bonito, where he takes a cue from the diving birds. Average size of the macks is 20 inches to the fork of the tail.
Steve Oldham at Island Discount Tackle is hearing of good action at both the Rod & Reel and the Anna Maria City Pier on Spanish mackerel. Both live bait and artificials are producing the bite. According to Oldham, the best action is occurring during the morning hours from sunrise until about 9 a.m. For lures, most mackerel fishers are using white crappie jigs or Clark spoons rigged with a popping cork. Others are using Sabiki rigs to catch shiners. Pier fishers targeting mackerel should also expect to hook up with blue runners, jack crevalle and ladyfish.
From the grass flats, Oldham is seeing good numbers of spotted seatrout and redfish being brought to the marina fillet table. The charter captains at Keyes Marina are bringing in catches of both species daily. And Oldham says he’s seen some nice flounder in the coolers.
From the beaches, Oldham says a variety of species are being caught, including mackerel, jack crevalle and shark — all on live baits. “Look for diving birds,” says Oldham, “and you’ll find the fish.” Flounder also are being caught along the beaches, and Oldham suggests a Berkeley Gulp shrimp on a 1/4-ounce jig head will get attention from the flat fish.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business charters out of Keyes is fishing shallow grass flats for redfish and catch-and-release snook. For both species, Gross is using live shiners for bait. To fish these baits, he’s using either a free-line or a popping cork. For free-lining baits, Gross likes to use 3-4 feet of 20-pound fluorocarbon tied to an Eagle Claw live bait hook. When using a popping cork, Gross uses basically the same rig with a cork set to correspond with the depth of the water.
On the deeper flats, Gross is catching plenty of keeper-size spotted seatrout. Again, he’s hooking up live shiners for bait. Most of the trout are ranging 15-18 inches. Rigging is the same as for reds or snook, or add a popping cork to the mix.
Finally, Gross is getting good action on Spanish mackerel by fishing nearshore structure in the Gulf of Mexico and around Longboat Pass. Gross is using live shiners or artificials, such as Gotcha plugs or white jigs, to get in on the action. When targeting macks, Gross likes to use 30-pound fluorocarbon leader tied to a long shank hook or a lure.
On a final note, the fifth annual Gullett Mullet Invitational Tournament and Fish Fry is coming up Oct. 12-13. This event is sponsored by the Sarasota Fish and Game Association and the Gullet Family. Proceeds benefit outdoor activities for youth, including the annual Jerry Hill Memorial Kids’ Fishing Tournament.
A captain’s meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, at the Palmetto Point Civic Association, 637 43rd St. Blvd. W., Palmetto. Weigh-in begins at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, with awards presented at 6 p.m.
An old-fashioned fish fry — the tourney catch — including Gullet’s much sought-after smoked mullet, will be served at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13.
To register for the fishing tournament or for more information, call 941-792-8314.
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Bill Nairn, visiting Anna Maria from Orlando, caught this 26-inch redfish while on a recent charter with Capt. Warren Girle.
Area waters start cool down, fishing remains hot
As water temperatures gradually get cooler, expect the action for migratory species to heat up.
Good numbers of Spanish mackerel, bonito, jack crevalle and blue runners are making a showing in south Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. To find schools of these high-activity fish, try looking for diving birds. They are a giveaway that fish are feeding on baitfish on the surface of the water below them.
Anglers can motor right up to the schools of feeding fish and cast live baits or artificials into the action. If using live baits, shiners will do the trick. If using artificials, an assortment of different colored jigs will work as well as silver spoons and top-water plugs with silver sides.
Remember, with all of this action occurring, expect to see plenty of sharks. Species include blacktip, spinner, sandbar, bull, hammerhead and bonnethead. I suggest using 3 feet of 100-pound hardwire tied to a 5/0 circle hook with a haywire twist to help reel up most sharks up to 6 feet in length. If you’re after the big boys, you may want to increase your leader and hook sizes.
These sharks are feeding on whatever migratory species are in the area, so make use of these species for bait. A chunk of Spanish mackerel or bonito is like candy to a shark. Don’t forget to update yourself on new limits and prohibitions for harvesting shark if you plan on keeping one.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier says a variety of fish are being caught daily, although the bite is sporadic at best. “We’re seeing all kinds of fish being caught,” says Kilb, “but the numbers aren’t there yet.”
To start, pier fishers using white speck rigs are catching Spanish mackerel. Mixed in with the mackerel are ladyfish, jack crevalle and blue runners. Typically the macks are feeding in the morning and soon after the bite diminishes. As for the ladyfish, jacks and blue runners, you should be able to catch them most of the day.
Those opting to use live shrimp or shiners are catching juvenile grouper, redfish and black drum. These catches are occurring under the pier around structure. Anglers may need to be patient when fishing for these species, since the bite is hit or miss.
Steve Oldham at Island Discount Tackle says due to the water temps dropping into the lower 80s, fishing in the canals is improving. Stories of redfish, black drum and mangrove snapper are being told daily, with most catches occurring on live shrimp. Typically, during this time of year, vast amounts of catfish invade the canals, so expect to catch a few. Oldham suggests carrying a dehooking device to aid in releasing these slimy bottom-feeders. Plus, it can prevent being stabbed by the catfish’s poisonous dorsal and pectoral fins.
Around the local piers, Oldham is hearing of good numbers of migratory species — mackerel, jack crevalle, ladyfish and blue runners — being caught. “A Clark spoon trailed behind a popping cork is a great choice to add to your arsenal,” says Oldham. “Gotcha plugs and white jigs are a must, too, for serious mackerel fishers.”
Also around the piers, Oldham is seeing bait fishers reeling up good numbers of flounder. A No. 2 long shank hook baited with a live shiner or shrimp will get you hooked up. Add a split shot about 18 inches above your bait and drag the bottom around the pilings. When you feel a slight resistance, set the hook. The flounder bite is subtle, so it may take a few nibbles to get the hang of it.
Finally, Oldham is hearing from the charter captains of good action on the grass flats. Spotted seatrout, redfish and catch-and-release snook are being boated daily by their clients. Most of the trout are in the 15- to18-inch range, while the reds being caught are running up to 25 inches.
Capt. Mark Johnston of Just Reel charters is fishing north Sarasota Bay and around the Cortez “kitchen” for mangrove snapper.
Johnston is using live shiners and shrimp to catch these tasty little fish. Snapper up to 15 inches are the norm this past week, which is a great size for a bay catch.
Along with snapper, Johnston is catching numerous juvenile gag and red grouper, as well as decent numbers of keeper-size sheepshead. For the sheepies, Johnston is using whole live shrimp or fresh-cut pieces.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business charters is working the backcountry in search of redfish. Gross is using live shiners for bait and also for chum. Once he locates a congregation of fish, he anchors and chums to get the target in a feeding mood. His clients then cast free-lined shiners into the strike zone to hook up. Most reds being caught this week were in the 20- to 24-inch range.
In Sarasota Bay, Gross is seeing decent numbers of catch-and-release snook although most are in the 20-inch range.
Again, Gross is anchoring and chumming shiners to get the bite going. In these same areas, Gross is hooking up spotted seatrout up to 22 inches.
Finally, Gross is putting his clients on deep grass flats on the edges of channels to catch mangrove snapper and flounder. Instead of free-lining his bait, Gross is adding a small split shot about 12 inches up the line from a shiner. This aids in getting the bait toward the bottom, in the strike zone. Snapper up to 14 inches are the norm. The same applies for flounder.
Capt. Warren Girle is working north Sarasota Bay for a variety of flats and migratory species, using live shiners to get the bite.
To start, Girle is catching redfish up to 27 inches by free-lining shiners behind the boat. Using his trolling motor, he can quietly scan the flats in search of sandy potholes and ditches. These holes are where the reds congregate, especially during lower tides. Once the fish are located, Girle chums with live shiners before putting out the hooks.
In these same areas, Girle is hooking up spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook. Trout up to 23 inches are being caught on live shiners, mixed in with some reds. For the snook, Girle pulls up and works near the mangroves.
Moving into the Gulf of Mexico, Girle is finding Spanish mackerel and bonito ravaging schools of baitfish. Girle suggests looking for diving birds to locate the fish. Live baits such as shiners or threadfin herring will get the bite, as well as artificials, such as Gotcha plugs or silver spoons.
Jeff Medley at the south bait shop on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge Fishing Piers says migratory species are thrashing bait schools around the pier during the early morning tides, and both live and artificial baits are producing good numbers of fish. For live bait, try shiners or threadfin herring. If you choose to use lures, Gotcha plugs or silver spoons rigged on a popping cork also will get a bite.
Migratory species being caught at the pier include Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, blue runners and small sharks. If you’re targeting macks, Medley suggests keeping the bait in the upper part of the water column — toward the top. Once the bait reaches depths of 4 or 5 feet below the surface, expect to catch jack crevalle and blue runners.
For sharks, simply cast out a small chunk of any of the species mentioned to get in on the action. Don’t forget to use a wire leader if you plan on landing a shark.
Send fishing reports to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fred Coomley shows off a firetruck red grouper he caught on a sardine in about 120 feet of water offshore of Anna Maria Island while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me the Fish Charters.
Flats, structure, reefs — great fishing action to be found
Flats fishers this past week are reporting good action on the grass in southern Tampa Bay and Sarasota Bay. Using live shiners for bait, fishers caught good numbers of redfish as well as spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook.
If you’re looking for fast action, try fishing around the Sunshine Skyway Bridge for Spanish mackerel, bonito, jack crevalle and blue runners. These species provide good action on light tackle and will readily hit live bait or artificials. Look for diving birds to locate the fish.
Mangrove snapper are beginning to feed on nearshore structure. To get in on the frenzy, once anchored, try dropping a chum block over the gunwale to get the fish in the mood. Small live shiners fished toward the bottom should get you into the action.
Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier is seeing decent numbers of Spanish mackerel, blue runners and jack crevalle being caught during the early morning hours or before sunset. Pier fishers using white jigs or silver spoons are getting the bite. When this trio is feeding, it’s a toss up as to what you will catch. No species will dominate, as they all feed together. This at least provides some variety as well as drag-screaming action on ultra-light tackle.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing most fishing action occurring in the early mornings. Pier fishers targeting bottom species such as redfish, flounder and black drum are getting action on live baits such as shiners and shrimp. For the black drum, live shrimp fished far up underneath the pier are getting the bite. If you want to catch redfish or flounder, try using the same techniques, only switch from baiting shrimp to a live shiner.
Spanish mackerel are still being caught around the pier, although the bite is sporadic at best. Small white jigs, especially those on a speck rig, are getting results when the macks are present.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is fishing for redfish in southern Tampa Bay with good results. Using live shiners for bait, Gross is catching reds in the 20- to 25-inch range. On the lower tides, Gross is having good luck fishing outer edges of bars and grass flats.
In these same areas, Gross is finding good numbers of spotted seatrout, as well as a few catch-and-release snook. As the tide rises, Gross moves onto the flat toward the mangroves. Knowing that these fish will move for cover on high water, Gross is able to follow them to the mangrove edges and keep the bite going.
Moving to deeper water in Tampa Bay, Gross is finding small structure to target mangrove snapper. Again he’s using live shiners for bait. Once anchored, Gross is dropping either whole live shiners or fresh-cut shiners to the bottom to catch the tasty little snappers. Along with mangoes, Gross is catching a few keeper-size flounder.
Capt. Warren Girle is fishing nearshore with good results on mangrove snapper. Using live shiners for bait, Girle is pulling up limits of mangrove snapper that average 16 inches. Girle suggests fishing structure in depths of 30-50 feet.
In these same areas, Girle is catching good numbers of undersized red and gag grouper. Expect to catch a few keeper fish in the mix, although the majority are small. Again, live shiners are producing the bite, but a large pinfish may entice a bigger grouper to bite.
In the upper water column, Girle is finding Spanish mackerel, bonito and small sharks. For the macks and bonito, Girle is free-lining live shiners on a long shank hook behind the boat. The same applies for the sharks.
Moving inshore, Girle is catching keeper-size redfish and spotted seatrout. When fishing the flats in Sarasota Bay, Girle likes to locate sandy potholes to find the fish. Casting live shiners into these holes allows his clients some great flats action.
Jeff Medley at the south bait shop on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge Fishing Piers says Spanish mackerel and bonito are corralling bait schools during the early morning tides. Look for diving birds or skyrocketing macks and bonito, crashing the water through schools of frightened baitfish. Gotcha plugs are the lure of choice, although white jigs and silver spoons also are producing. Expect to catch jack crevalle and blue runners on the same lures.
Mangrove snapper are producing good action for Skyway fishers using live greenbacks for bait. Try using enough weight to keep the bait close to the structures around the pier. According to Medley, the outgoing tides are resulting in the most numbers of fish caught. Average size of the mangoes this past week was 16 inches.
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Jose Alberto of Miami shows off a slot-size redfish caught on a shiner in Anna Maria Sound near the entrance to the Holmes Beach city basin while on a charter trip with Capt. Danny Stasny.
Calm days, clear water, good fishing slowly returns
With Tropical Storm Isaac a thing of the past and no storms on the horizon for our area, fishing is beginning to return to its normal good results.
Area waters are beginning to clear and fish are returning to regular feeding patterns, including redfish. They’re back feeding heavily on shiners on grass flats and under docks. Try anchoring and chumming with shiners to get the fish in a feeding mood. Once you get the fish fired up, cast a free-lined shiner to hook up one of these copper-bellied bruisers.
On my recent charters, clients were hooking up slot-sized reds almost every cast.
Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier says he’s seeing good action for Spanish mackerel and jack crevalle. “The bait is showing back up,” says Sork, “which means the fish are, too.”
Pier fishers using white crappie jigs, silver spoons or Gotcha plugs are catching keeper-size Spanish mackerel in decent numbers, says Sork. Early morning is when the best bite is occurring, although sporadic fish are being caught throughout the day.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing a variety of bottom-feeders caught this past week. Black drum, redfish and flounder are being caught on live baits, such as shrimp and shiners. If you opt to use shiners, Malfese suggests using a Sabiki rig to catch them. “There’s a lot of small bait towards the surface,” says Malfese, “but there’s bigger bait underneath them.”
Once you’ve caught some shiners on your Sabiki rig, place them in a 5-gallon bucket half filled with water and an aerator. This enables you to keep at least a couple dozen alive for 30 minutes or so. And with an ample supply of shiners around the pier, you don’t have to worry about running out of bait.
When asked about the mangrove snapper bite, Malfese said it has been “thinning out.” Good numbers have been caught in previous weeks, but this past week the snapper moved elsewhere.
Jonny Keyes at Island Discount Tackle says he’s hearing of good action on the grass flats of southern Tampa Bay all the way to Long Bar in Sarasota Bay. Flats fishers using live shiners are catching good numbers of both redfish and catch-and-release snook. For both species, try looking around mangrove shorelines during the high tides. As the tide drops, look for shallow grass flats with an ample number of sandy potholes.
Spanish mackerel are being caught around the fishing piers and at nearshore reefs. Pier fishers are using Gotcha plugs, silver spoons or white crappie jigs to get the hookup.
Capt. Warren Girle is fishing offshore on the artificial reefs just west of Anna Maria Island. Starting around depths of 45 feet, Girle is getting good action on both gag and red grouper. Using live shiners for bait, Girle’s clients are catching gags up to 26 inches. Numerous undersized red grouper are being caught along with keepers up to 22 inches.
Also while fishing the reefs, Girle is seeing good numbers of Spanish mackerel and small sharks. Free-lining live shiners behind the boat is producing macks in the 24-inch range. While targeting macks, Girle also is reeling up Atlantic sharp nose and lemon sharks in the 3- to 4-foot range.
Moving inshore, Girle is targeting grass flats that are spotted with potholes to find redfish and spotted seatrout. Using a live shiner under a cork, Girle is catching reds up to 25 inches and spotted seatrout up to 22 inches. “Most of the trout are in the 16- to 18-inch range,” says Girle, “but we’re catching a few over 20 inches.”
Jeff Medley at the south bait shop on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge Fishing Piers says if you’re looking for action, try targeting Spanish mackerel during the late afternoon tides.
As schools of baitfish are pushed toward the pier with the tide, macks are aggressively feeding and skyrocketing through the schools. When this occurs, you should be able to cast just about any small bait in the water and hook up. “I think we went through almost 200 Gotcha plugs in the past few days,” says Medley. “The macks are hitting a lure before you even have time to close the bail.”
Most macks being caught are keeper-size and the limit of 15 fish per person is easily attainable.
Those with their fill of macks can find mangrove snapper and flounder by bottom fishing around the pilings. You can use live shrimp or shiners to catch either of these tasty fish. A slow moving tide will help control placement of the bait. As the tide increases, you’ll need to add more weight to hold bottom.
Finally, a variety of shark are inhabiting the waters around the south pier. Lemon, black tip and bonnethead sharks are being caught daily, especially when the macks are crashing bait schools. Small chunk baits — mackerel, mullet or jack crevalle — will get you hooked up. You’ll probably want to use a couple of feet of wire leader attached to at least a 3/0 circle hook to get in on the action.
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Due to remnants of Tropical Storm Isaac, most island fishers were forced to wait out the storm and its after-effects.
Poor conditions on our surrounding waters have made it tough to target both inshore and offshore species. Offshore is unattainable due to high seas, while inshore areas are disrupted by muddy water and windy conditions. Also, during these conditions the fish seem to bunker down and wait for better conditions to start feeding.
It’s best to allow a few days to let things settle back to normal. Once the waters clear up, the fish should be back on their regular feeding patterns.
Out of the normal lineup of fishing reports, only one seemed promising.
Jeff Medley at the south bait shop on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge Fishing Piers says that although the waters are rough, a few pier fishers willing to brave the windy conditions were catching Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper and some flounder. The bite is sporadic at best, he says.
Best baits for the Spanish mackerel are silver spoons or Gotcha plugs. Live shrimp is a good bet for the mangrove snapper and flounder. If you can catch live shiners, it’s a great bait, but may prove too hard to find.
While you are waiting for the calmer, clearer water to return, stop by Galati Marine in Anna Maria to see the results of the fourth annual Galati Yacht Sales Labor Day Billfish Tournament, which was postponed until Sept. 6-8 due to Tropical Storm Isaac. The free weigh-in event takes place beginning at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9, at Galati Yacht Basin, 900 S. Bay Blvd., Anna Maria.
Also, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission plans to meet Sept. 5-6 in Tampa to discuss local issues including marinelife and saltwater fisheries. The meeting, at the Doubletree Hotel, 4500 W. Cypress St., Tampa, is open to the public and begins at 8:30 a.m. both days.
Items on the agenda for Sept. 5 include FWC’s gopher tortoise management plan, falconry and the latest component of a statewide anchoring and mooring pilot program.
Sept. 6 focuses on marine fishery issues, including updates from the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and South Atlantic Fishery Management Council meetings, possible changes to black sea bass management in Atlantic waters and consideration of the creation of three commercial license exemptions that will assist Florida’s veterans who want to enter into the commercial fishing industry.
For the full agenda, go to myfwc.com/commission.
A final reminder: Sept. 1 was opening day for the recreational harvest season for snook in Florida’s Atlantic coastal and inland waters. The season remains closed for all Gulf of Mexico waters through Aug. 31, 2013.
It is illegal to possess or sell Gulf snook, but anglers can still catch-and-release snook during the closure and are encouraged to handle fish carefully to ensure survival upon release.
Visit myfwc.com/fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing” and “Recreational Regulations” for more information on snook.
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Revised Galati billfish tourney schedule
A Labor Day weekend fishing tournament has been delayed due to poor offshore conditions, but with the former Tropical Storm/Hurricane Isaac pushing north this week, the fourth annual Galati Yacht Sales Labor Day Billfish Tournament.is bound to happen Sept. 6-9.
The schedule was not made available for print or the website until Sept. 4.
The schedule of events includes:
- 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, captain’s meeting, Galati Yachts Sales, Galati Marine.
- 7 a.m., Friday, Sept. 7, fishing begins.
- 8:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 8, fishing ends.
- Noon-1 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 9, weigh in.
Species and Points include:
- Photo or video release.
- Blue Marlin — 501 points.
- White Marlin — 250 points.
- Sailfish — 100 points.
- Spearfish — 100 points.
- Swordfish — 50 points (2 maximum).
The fish weigh-in will include catches of dolphin, wahoo and tuna and is open to the public.
Free dockage and fuel discounts are available for participating tournament boats through Galati Yacht Sales, 900 S. Bay Blvd., Anna Maria.
There is a $1,500 entry fee, plus tax, per boat, with additional $500 for tuna, dolphin and wahoo.
A $2,000 entry fee applies to the billfish division. Tax is added to all boats entry fees.
The tournament is limited to 20 entries.
For more information, call Chris Galati at 941-778-0755 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zachary Ashby, left, 11, and dad Bob Ashby of Brandon show off Zach’s first monster gag grouper catch. The fish was caught on a pinfish in about 140 feet of water offshore of Anna Maria Island on a charter trip with Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me the Fish Charters.
Fishing peaks in advance of Isaac’s glancing blow
Inshore fishing around Anna Maria Island remains consistent, although with Tropical Storm Isaac heading into the Gulf of Mexico, expect to see a slight change in patterns.
Redfish, trout and catch-and-release snook are abundant on grass flats in water depths of 2-4 feet. Try looking for the redfish and snook along mangrove shorelines adjacent to lush grass flats with good tidal flow. You’ll also encounter some over-slot trout in these areas, although if you’re looking for sheer numbers, you’ll need to move to deeper flats.
Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and jack crevalle are making daily appearances, feeding in the morning around the Rod & Reel and Anna Maria piers. With vast amounts of small baitfish at the piers, these migratory fish come in quick, feed and then are gone, almost as quickly as they arrived. Live shiners on a long shank hook or lures, such as Gotcha plugs or spoons, will get you in on the action.
Mangrove snapper are making a strong showing, especially around the south side of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge fishing piers. Whether you’re fishing from a boat or directly from the pier, you can drift live or fresh-cut shiners around the pilings to hook up with these tasty snappers. Remember, fluorocarbon leader and a small live bait hook are a must to catch these leader-shy fish.
Shark fishing is still going strong in all of Tampa Bay and southward. Bull, blacktip, lemon and nurse sharks are being caught on chunk baits fished on the bottom. Try using mullet, mackerel, ladyfish or jack crevalle for bait.
Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier is seeing good numbers of Spanish mackerel being caught on both artificials and live bait. To catch live shiners, Sork suggests using a Sabiki rig.
If you’re not familiar with a Sabiki, stop by a tackle shop for advice. Once you have some live shiners in your bait bucket, tie a long shank hook on some 30-pound fluorocarbon leader, bait your hook, and you’re ready to go.
Mangrove snapper are being caught under the pier and live shiners and shrimp on a No. 2 live bait hook are producing. Add a split shot about 12 inches above your hook and cast a shiner as far up underneath the pier as you can. Average size of the snapper is 12 inches.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says Spanish mackerel are swarming the pier at sunrise to feed on small baitfish, which are schooling around the pilings. Most pier fishers are using Gotcha plugs or white jigs to get in on the action, although a small long shank hook baited with a live shiner will work, too. Macks up to 20 inches to the fork were the norm this past week, but bigger fish were in the mix.
Pier fishers using live bait — shrimp or shiners — are reeling up a variety of species from under the pier. By bottom fishing with shrimp, pier fishers are reeling up mangrove snapper and a few flounder. Those fishing with shrimp are catching black drum and sheepshead.
Lastly, pier fishers using small chunk baits, such as squid or mullet, are catching plenty of bonnethead sharks. Most are in the 24-inch range, but don’t be surprised to catch them up to 40 inches in length.
Steve Oldham at Island Discount Tackle is hearing of good action coming from the piers and from the grass flats.
Oldham is hearing of good catch-and-release snook action. Live shiners, or “snook candy,” as Oldham refers to them, are a surefire way to put your tackle to the test against a big snook. But handle these fish with care, they are still making a comeback from the cold 2010 winter.
Oldham is seeing fishers coming to the docks from the grass flats with respectable catches of redfish and spotted seatrout. Live bait, such as shrimp or shiners, are getting good results. And artificials like the Rapala Skitterwalk or the Sebile Stickshad are catching fish. If fishing artificials, Oldham suggests fishing low-light conditions — early morning or sunset.
Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime fishing charters says this past week has been action packed, resulting in some excellent catches of spotted seatrout, redfish and catch-and-release snook.
Spotted seatrout were feeding with vigor, chewing on the shiners this past week, including some catches measuring up to 27 inches.
Redfish were more scattered, but still providing excellent action. Howard says the reds are roaming flats in smaller schools, feeding on the moving tides.
He says to look for the snook up in the mangrove bushes on a high tide and following the tide as it runs off the flats.
Shiners have been easy to find, and many of the traditional bait spots are holding bait. “Use caution in overloading your live wells, as the summer heat will stress your bait, resulting in a loss,” Howard says. Look for the bait game to only improve as the hatch from June grows to the more preferable 3-4 inch size.
Looking forward, low tides in the morning hours will lead fish to the potholes and edges and away from the mangroves. “Some excellent opportunities will present themselves with the low-water periods,” Howard predicts.
Capt. Mark Johnston of Just Reel fishing charters is working on mangrove snapper on structures in Sarasota Bay. Using small live shiners for bait, Johnston’s clients are catching limits of mangrove snapper in the 14- to 18-inch range.
After snapper fishing, Johnston is moving to the lush grass flats of the bay in search of spotted seatrout. Again, Johnston is using small live shiners to entice the bite. For rigging, Johnston is either free-lining shiners or using a popping cork with a couple of feet of fluorocarbon leader under it. Either way, Johnston is producing good numbers of trout averaging 18-23 inches.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business is working the back country of south Tampa Bay and Anna Maria Sound with good results. Adding variety to the spots he fishes allows Gross to bring numerous species back to the fillet table.
To start, Gross is fishing shallow grass flats adjacent to mangrove shorelines in search of redfish and catch-and-release snook. Free-lining shiners over the flats and under the mangroves is providing Gross’ clients the opportunity to catch numerous slot-size redfish. The same applies for the catch-and-release snook.
Next, Gross is moving to deeper grass flats in search of spotted seatrout. By chumming with live shiners, Gross has a target as the trout come to the surface to feed. By sight casting, his clients are reeling in limits of spotted seatrout.
To finish out the day, Gross is anchoring over small structure and wrecks in the bay to find mangrove snapper and macks. Keeper-sizes of both species are being caught on live and fresh-cut shiners.
Capt. Warren Girle also is fishing the grass flats of Sarasota Bay in search of the bay trio, redfish, spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook. Using live shiners, Girle is catching some of all three, depending on where he is in the bay.
For the spotted seatrout, Girle is finding grass flats with a depth of 3-5 feet. Next, he finds the sandy potholes that are scattered throughout the flat. Once he finds one with trout in it, he anchors and chums with live shiners. Girle’s clients are then casting free-lined shiners, which are resulting in trout up to 26 inches.
For the reds and catch-and-release snook, Girle is fishing slightly shallower water. Again, he’s chumming with live shiners to get the fish in a feeding mood. On the high tides, Girle suggests fishing along mangrove shorelines.
Jeff Medley at the south bait shop on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge Fishing Piers is seeing a variety of species being caught both day and night. Pier fishers are having good results on migratory and reef species.
To start, the early morning mackerel bite is in full swing. Pier fishers using live greenbacks under a popping cork are catching macks in the 20-inch range. Those opting to use artificials, such as Gotcha plugs or silver spoons, also are catching good numbers of these high-speed predators. While targeting macks, expect to encounter jack crevalle, ladyfish and, possibly, bonito.
If you’re fishing for something to put on your dinner plate, try live bait fishing for gag grouper and mangrove snapper. Both species are taking up under the pier and around the artificial reefs that surround the pier. Live greenbacks will work for the snapper, and if you’re in search of grouper, try using a live pinfish.
Finally, night fishers are catching good numbers of shark. Bull, blacktip and nurse sharks are the usual suspects at the pier. Any chunk bait — the favorites are mackerel, bonito and stingray wings — fished on the bottom should get a bite.
On a final note, we heard last week the reports of a giant mysterious fish — pictured this week — being caught off of the city pier.
According to Dr. Bob Hueter, director of the National Center for Shark Research at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, the fish is “a good-sized smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) whose saw (rostrum) has been cut off.
Hueter says the saw is a prized collector’s item, and people think it’s OK to cut off the saw and throw the fish back. But the sawfish, a type of large ray related to sharks, need their saws to feed, according to Hueter, and “the sawfish in the photo looks a bit skinny, suggesting that it might be having some trouble getting enough food.”
Hueter reminds us that “this animal is an endangered species, and any handling or harassment, much less mutilation or killing, of this protected species can bring severe federal and state penalties.”
Hueter says if you’re fishing the pier avoid catching this or other sawfish and, if caught, release the fish immediately.
He says to cut the leader as close to the hook as possible if you can’t remove the hook itself. Never remove the saw.
For more information, go online at http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish. To report sawfish sightings, email email@example.com.
Send fishing reports to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Landry alleges FISH president knew of fencing
Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage president Kim McVey denied knowing at an Aug. 6 meeting that former board member Bob Landry had begun fence work on the FISH preserve.
Landry began installing fence posts in late July. A couple of days later, another board member allegedly knocked the posts to the ground.
Both Landry’s actions and the alleged member’s vandalism led to a contentious and accusatory meeting of the nonprofit board, which also resulted in the resignation of board secretary Joe Kane. Landry resigned his board seat and his position of facilities chair before the meeting.
Board members who questioned Landry’s work and McVey’s involvement learned that Landry was paid by FISH for the work.
FISH is responsible for maintaining its 95-acre preserve and has an ongoing mission to protect the coastline of Cortez.
McVey has denied any knowledge that Landry had begun the work, but Landry said that isn’t true.
“The day before the vandalism happened, I took Kim out to show her what we had already done and where we plan on installing the fence,” said Landry. “Kim said ‘OK.’”
Landry said McVey called him later that afternoon, asking him to stop work on the fence.
“And I did,” said Landry. “This needs to be told because I didn’t take the law into my hands. As chair of the FISH facilities committee at that time, I was asked to install a fence, which I did.”
Board members at the Aug. 6 meeting complained about Landry moving forward with the project when the board had yet to decide where the fence would be installed.
Landry said that’s also not true.
“FISH board members were aware weeks ago where the fence was planned to be installed,” he said. “Once the budget was approved, I started on the fencing. This was only one of many projects approved at the facilities committee meeting, and was done with continued dialogue with Kim.”
McVey did not return a request for comment by The Islander press time.
Michael Gardner, a diesel mechanic who donates time and equipment to FISH, complained McVey is not involved in the community “because she’s too busy running a restaurant or she doesn’t care.”
Gardner attended the Aug. 6 meeting and said his time as a volunteer is ending if a change isn’t made in FISH leadership.
“It’s been this way for too long,” he said. “Ever since Kim McVey and Jane von Hahmann took over, people have quit left and right.”
Gardner said McVey never returns his phone calls, “and it’s to the point where I’m not going to help FISH anymore until all this fighting and backstabbing ends.”
Gardner said it was never this bad when former president Karen Bell ran FISH, “because she went out of her way to get people involved. It seems to me that Kim and Jane don’t want anyone to get involved because they have their own agendas.
“What they tell you on the side is completely different than what they say at the meetings,” he added. “They will tell you one thing and turn right around at a meeting, look you in the eye and deny they ever said it.”
Like other Cortez residents and FISH volunteers, Gardner wants a solution to the ongoing fighting.
“I think a start would be for Kim to resign,” he said. “Someone, and I don’t know who, needs to step in and pull it all back together, because right now, it’s only going to get worse.”