Fishing around Anna Maria Island has remained consistent for another week. With mild temperatures and moderate seas, a variety of fishing can be accomplished. Whether venturing offshore for grouper and snapper or just casually fishing the flats in the local bays, local angers are finding success.
On my own adventures on Southernaire fishing charters, I’m finding my inshore trips to be quite pleasant. Calm, clear waters are making things easy for anglers working on the shallows. Spotted seatrout are in abundance and are on the feed. Live shrimp or shiners under a popping cork are resulting in numerous hookups, with at least 50 percent of the catches fits in the slot.
Fishing along the sandy beaches of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key is proving to be good for pompano and permit. Both species are being taken by one of two methods — small jigs tipped with shrimp or a plain old knocker rig combined with a whole shrimp. Keeper-sizes of both species are being taken.
Lastly, on cooler, windy days, I’m venturing toward the protection of residential docks and canals. Casting live shrimp into these areas is resulting in black drum, redfish, sheepshead and flounder. The rallies of fish aren’t quite apparent, yet, but dinner is realistic.
Capt. Jason Stock is working offshore ledges and rock piles for the elusive hogfish. Typically, hogfish are taken with ease by spear fishers, but are not a common catch for fishers who chose to stay above the water’s surface. However, Stock finds no need to get in the water. He is doing just fine with hook-and-line fishing in depths ranging 30-80 feet. He’s putting clients on hogfish 1-7 pounds on a bottom rig combined with a live shrimp.
While fishing around wrecks and reefs, Stock is hooking into amberjack. Although these fish are out of season, the sheer thrill provided by these fierce-fighting fish is enough to stimulate the most experienced anglers. Large baits, such as blue runners and bar jacks are proving to attract large fish in the 30- to 60-pound range. Using smaller baits — shiners or threadfins — is resulting in catches in the 20-pound range.
Capt. Aaron Lowman, working now out of the Seafood Shack Marina, is finding good results inshore. On windy days, Lowman is migrating to canals, working the seawalls and docks. According to Lowman, these areas can be slightly warmer than open waters, which in turn attract a variety of fish. With live shrimp as bait, Lowman is catching redfish, black drum, sheepshead and mangrove snapper. Another bait producing success in these areas is the Berkley Gulp shrimp. Combining a Gulp with a 1/4-ounce jig head is resulting in numerous flounder catches for Lowman’s clients.
Moving out to the nearshore wrecks and reefs, Lowman is targeting hogfish, porgies, gag and red grouper. Along with these species, the occasional cobia and kingfish are coming to the hook.
Capt. Warren Girle is finding good results for clients offshore. Using live shiners or cut-bait, Girle’s clients are reeling up red grouper and mangrove snapper. For the grouper, the cut-bait is preferred. As for the snapper, using live shiners is producing most bites.
Moving inshore, Girle is finding plenty of spotted seatrout willing to take live shiners or live shrimp under a popping cork. Along with trout, Girle is putting his clients on bluefish, ladyfish and jack crevalle.
Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is investing time offshore with good results. Targeting migratory species — kingfish, amberjack bonito and black fin tuna — is proving to be prosperous. Flat-lining live baits — shiners or threadfin herring — is attracting the bite.
Snapper fishing offshore is providing good action on White’s charters. Yellowtail and mangrove snapper are being caught by chumming shiners. Chum is attracting other predators such as kings and tuna.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says fishing is steady for pier anglers using live shrimp for bait. Most catches are occurring during the morning tides. Species include sheepshead, black drum and flounder. Migratory species — ladyfish and blue runners — coming to the hook for anglers using small jigs or Gotcha plugs.
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