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.
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