Tag Archives: fishing

Goodbye red tide — hello red hot fall fishing

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Liberty Cole of Atlanta shows off his catch, a nice lane snapper hooked on a sardine Sept. 20 in about 65 feet of water while on his first offshore fishing trip with Capt. Larry McGuire.

Fishing around Anna Maria Island is looking better and better now that we are slipping into a fall pattern,

With lower temps at night, water temps are slowly dropping. Plus, locals are saying the red tide has been dispersing.

Spanish mackerel and kingfish are beginning their migration along our coast — always a welcome sight for fishers. In tow of the mackerel schools will be numerous blacktip and spinner sharks, which add a thrill factor to any fishing adventure.

On the flats, we should start seeing an abundance of snook, redfish and trout, although I believe recent weeks of red tide have delayed this migration. Still, keep an eye on your favorite backwater spots as these fish soon should arrive and in great numbers.

On my recent charters on the water with Southernaire fishing, I’ve been trying to avoid the red tide by working around the mouth of the Manatee River and north toward Terra Ceia and Miguel bays. Spotted seatrout and snook seem to be the most accommodating bite, although I’m seeing a variety of other fish.

Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and jack crevalle are in abundance in these areas on deeper grass flats and in channels. Also, I am finding plenty of mangrove snapper on the flats and around residential docks. Finally, I’m still seeing an occasional flounder being reeled up, although the bite from the flat fish is random.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is working in the backcountry of southern Tampa Bay with good results despite having to dodge areas of red tide. He’s finding respectable numbers of schooley snook are being found around mangrove islands, edges of flats and even in canals. For bait, live shiners or buck-tail jigs are producing a bite.

Fishing along the beaches is proving to be good for Lowman’s clients. Again, running to areas where no red tide exists is key to finding a bite. In these areas, Lowman is finding Spanish mackerel, shark and even a few kingfish willing to take offerings of live shiners as bait from his anglers.

Capt. Jason Stock is fishing within a mile of the beaches of Anna Maria Island for Spanish mackerel. Rallies of these high-speed fish are being caught by anchoring and chumming live shiners. During the mack rallies, Stock also is seeing the arrival of kingfish and blacktip sharks.

Moving out farther to the artificial reefs and ledges, Stock is finding mangrove snapper and flounder to be accommodating. In between snapper and flounder bites, Stock’s clients are hooking into large snook that have moved from the bays to seek refuge in deeper waters around the reef. All species are being caught on a bottom rig paired with a live shiner as bait.

Capt. Warren Girle is fishing the beaches of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key for macks and bonito. Both species are being caught with regularity by using free-lined live shiners as bait. Once the bite is really on, it is attracting the attention of blacktip sharks. The sharks add the thrill factor for visiting anglers.

On the flats, Girle is catching spotted seatrout, as well as ladyfish, jack crevalle and macks. All are being taken on free-lined live shiners. Fishing shallow flats also is producing some redfish rallies, with most fish measuring around 18 inches.

Capt. Rick Gross is working the flats of southern Tampa Bay and the Manatee River in hopes of avoiding the red tide. Gross is finding an abundance of spotted seatrout by baiting live shiners combined with a popping cork. Slot-size trout are quickly reacting to these baits on the out-going tides. Mixed in are macks, jack crevalle and ladyfish.

Snook fishing is producing good action for Gross’ charters. Shallow flats around mangrove islands and/or oyster bars are producing plenty of fish 18-24 inches. Live free-lined shiners are producing the best bite. Redfish are being caught in these same areas, although the snook bite is more prevalent.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing a variety of species being caught. Pier fishers using live shrimp as bait are catching numerous mangrove snapper. Most catches are keeper-size fish 11-12 inches. Along with snapper, shrimp on the hook are producing black drum, redfish and flounder.

Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle and bluefish are making a showing at the pier. Live shiners as bait are working well, although most anglers targeting these fish prefer to use artificials such as Gotcha plugs, silver spoons or jigs.

Lastly, snook fishing is producing a bite at the R&R, although most catches are falling under the minimum-size of 28 inches. Live shiners and pinfish are top producers as bait for the famous linesiders.

Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Fishing – 10-12-2016

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Susan Clark of Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia, is excited to catch her first permit on an Oct. 1 charter with Capt. Jason Stock.

Matthew sends red tide packing, fishing holds strong

Although the red tide bloom continued to linger in our area before Hurrincane Matthew sent winds and rough surf our way, both inshore and offshore fishing were holding their own.

Most inshore fishing during the red tide outbreak was occurring north of the Anna Maria Island Bridge at Manatee Avenue.

As for the offshore bite, the water offshore seemed to be less toxic past 3 miles. This can change day to day, depending on wind and currents, but this is how it’s been.

I’m finding a surplus of fish from north of the Manatee River to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

On my recent excursions on Southernaire Fishing Charters, the fish have been a little sporadic due to the weather and red tide, we are catching a lot of fish.

Spotted seatrout seem to be the most abundant. On some mornings, we’ve seen as many as 60 trout reeled to the boat.

Snook fishing is productive, too. Keeper-size fish are a little hard to come by, but there are plenty of those 20-24 inchers around to keep clients busy.

Fishing structure in Tampa Bay is providing great action. There is an abundance of Spanish mackerel — great adversaries on light tackle — in bay waters. This batch of macks is consistently large, with fish up to 28 inches being caught.

When done catching mackerel, we are switching over to mangrove snapper, which are abundant right now. A couple of handfuls of dead shiners thrown over the side of the boat is resulting in numerous snapper rising up from their hiding places in the reef to feed on the free food floating by.

To catch these snapper, I’m rigging with some 15-pound fluorocarbon for leader and a small No. 4 hook. No weight. I’m then using a small shiner as bait and free-lining it back in the chum slick to get a bite. Limits of the tasty, fry-ready snapper are attainable.

As far as red tide goes, the concentration in Sarasota Bay and along the Gulf beaches of Longboat Key may subside after the water settles from Matthew.

You never know where exactly the effects of the bloom will turn up.

Capt. Jason Stock is fishing offshore in an effort to avoid the red tide. Fishing around nearshore structure in depths of 30-50 feet, Stock is finding an abundance of Spanish mackerel. Free-lining live shiners on the surface is resulting in consistent action for these high-speed fish. While targeting macks, Stock is seeing an occasional cobia swim up to the boat to investigate the commotion. Casting live shiners or pinfish to these brown bombers is resulting in a hook up.

The permit bite was consistently good in the past week, according to Stock. The fish are being found on offshore structure in depths of 70-80 feet. Casting live pass crabs around wrecks and reefs is resulting in permit in the 20-pound range.

Capt. David White of Great White charters is targeting spotted seatrout throughout the grass flats of Southern Tampa Bay. White is finding the best action for trout during the higher stages of the tide. While targeting trout, White also is hooking into ladyfish and Spanish mackerel.

Fishing structure in Tampa Bay is proving to be good for White. Spanish mackerel are in abundance and striking free-lined baits. Mangrove snapper are present on structure for anglers with a bottom rig and a live shiner.

Additionally, snook are being caught around the mouth of small coves and bays. Mangrove edges where tidal current exists are holding respectable numbers of fish.

Capt. Warren Girle is working offshore around the artificial reefs in depths of 30-40 feet of water, waiting for schools of large jack crevalle that patrol these areas. They provide great action on medium-heavy tackle with sizes ranging from 15-20 pounds. They are one of the strongest fighters for their size. Although there is no food value to them, they are a welcome sight for anglers hoping to put their stamina to the test.

Other species being caught around the reefs include near limits of mangrove snapper and some large barracuda.

Moving inshore, Girle is working north of Sarasota Bay to find “red tide free” waters.

In Terra Ceia Bay, Girle is finding numerous redfish and spotted seatrout. Along the shorelines north of Terra Ceia, he’s finding some good action on snook for his clients. Free-lined live shiners are the bait of choice for all three species.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing pier anglers reeling up a variety of species. Pier fishers using shrimp as bait are catching black drum, redfish and mangrove snapper. Those fishers using live pinfish and shiners are being rewarded with catch-and-release snook — both too small or too big to keep. Artificials such as Gotcha plugs, silver spoons or jigs are resulting in numerous Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and jack crevalle.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is finding action on redfish for his clients. For the reds, Gross is fishing along shorelines where both turtle grass and oyster bars exist, as well as near structure, such as seawalls and docks. For bait, Gross is using live pinfish 2-3 inches in length. He says these small “pinnys” are like candy for the redfish right now.

Spotted seatrout are being caught with regularity. Live shiners cast amid deeper grass flats with depths of 5-7 feet are resulting in rallies of specks. Keeper-size fish are not as apparent as the smaller ones, but the sheer number of fish being reeled to the boat makes up for the lack of slot fish.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is flats fishing in Tampa Bay, dodging red tide. Cleaner water existed in the past week — pre-Hurricane Matthew’s winds — north of the Manatee Avenue bridge and south of the Sunshine Skyway bridge, providing Lowman a vast coverage area. Snook fishing along mangrove edges in Miguel and Terra Ceia bays is resulting in many schooley-sized snook. Lowman is finding an occasional redfish ready to take bait among the snook.

Moving out to deeper flats on the outside of Terra Ceia and Miguel bays, Lowman is finding a mix of species — trout, bluefish, macks and ladyfish — all takin live shiners as bait.

            Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Fishing – 10-05-2016

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.

            Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Fishing – 09-28-2016

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Terry Tomesko shows off her 12-pound red snapper caught Sept. 20 using a pin fish and then released. She was targeting grouper on an offshore charter with Capt Warren Girle.

Waterfront halts Sugar Beach’s bid for basketball perfection

Based on the lead up in the regular basketball season, players for Sugar Beach Digital Photography should have walked out of the gym Sept. 21 at the Center of Anna Maria Island clutching championship trophies.

The players from Waterfront Restaurant had other ideas. They came to play and scored an 8-7 upset victory over Sugar Beach to win the center’s youth basketball championship.

Nick Yatros led the way with 7 points, while Jayden Sparks’ single foul shot provided the winning margin of victory for the newly crowned champs. Other members of Waterfront are Evan Talucci, Natalie Talucci, Cole Rudacille and Dalton Fox.

Jack Proctor paced Sugar Beach with 7 points in the loss. Other members of Sugar Beach are Lily Kawahata, Tom Baugher, Peyton Hovda, Sterling Holmes Holidy and Evie Baugher.

Waterfront advanced to the finals by upsetting regular-season, second-place finisher Harry’s Grill 13-8 Sept. 20 behind 6 points from Jayden Sparks, 5 points from Nick Yatros and 2 points from Evan Talucci.

Harry’s Grill was led by Kenneth Neiring’s 6 points and 2 points from Anthony Nguyen.

Sugar Beach advanced to the finals by rolling to a 16-7 victory over Salty Printing behind 10 points from Jack Proctor. Evie Baugher chipped in with 4 points, while brother Tommy Baugher finished with 2 points in the victory.

Harrison Schenerlein paced Salty Printing with 6 points, while Fiona McCarthy completed the scoring with 1 point.

Games are played at the center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria.


Standings tighten in adult football league

The adult flag football league at the center became a lot more interesting after last week’s action delivered Mason Martin its first loss of the season.

It drops Mason Martin into a three-way tie for first place with Progressive Cabinetry and Moss Builders, which all sit at 3-1 on the season. Beach House Real Estate and Coldwell Banker follow at 2-2, while Tyler’s Ice Cream, Anna Maria CrossFit and Blake Medical Center bring up the rear of the standings with matching 1-3 records.

Coldwell Banker opened the Sept. 22 action with a 19-7 victory over Tyler’s Ice Cream behind an efficient passing performance from quarterback Chuck Buky. Buky completed 15 of 19 passes for 260 yards and three touchdown passes to three different receivers.

Robert Kaston had a team-high 90 receiving yards and one touchdown reception, while Matt Morgan finished with 65 receiving yards and a touchdown to go along with 50 passing yards on two completions. James Ptak added a touchdown reception to go along with 60 receiving yards, while Karri Stephens completed the scoring with an extra point and 60 receiving yards.

Jason Sato passed for 175 yards and a touchdown to lead Tyler’s Ice Cream, which also received a touchdown reception and 65 receiving yards from Ben Sato. Nick Sato added 60 receiving yards while Lexi Sato completed the scoring with an extra-point reception in the loss.

Progressive Cabinetry moved into first place thanks to a 20-12 victory over Mason Martin behind a strong all-around game from quarterback Tim Shaughnessy.

Shaughnessy completed nine of 11 passes for 120 yards and one touchdown pass, while also running for 70 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Caleb Roberts was his favorite receiver with 90 receiving yards and a touchdown, while Pat Calvary completed the scoring with a pair of extra-point receptions.

Ray Gardner paced Mason Martin with 230 passing yards and a pair of touchdown passes to Frank Agnelli, who finished with two touchdown catches. Eric Gledhill added 80 receiving yards for Mason Martin in the loss.

Moss Builders rolled to a 41-22 victory over Anna Maria CrossFit in the third game of the evening behind the play of quarterback Ryan Moss. Moss completed 17 of 20 passes for 235 yards and three touchdown passes, while also running for 35 yards and a touchdown.

Andrew Terman also had a huge game. He was Moss’ favorite target on offense, finishing with 115 receiving yards, including two touchdowns and three extra points, while adding three interceptions, including two that he returned for touchdowns on defense. Chad Woods added 75 receiving yards and a touchdown, while Mike Gillum and Rainia Lardas completed the scoring with extra-point catches.

Clay Spangler passed for 170 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Sean Flynn added 105 receiving yards including a touchdown and a 2-point conversion to lead Anna Maria CrossFit. Jesse Brisson added 60 receiving yards, including a touchdown an a two-point conversion while Danny Murphy completed the scoring with a touchdown run.

Blake Medical Center defeated Beach House Real Estate 19-13 to earn its first win of the season. Quarterback Chase Bennion passed for 230 yards and a pair of touchdown passes, while also running for 45 yards and a touchdown to account for all of Blake’s points. Aaron VanHook was his top receiver, finishing with 115 yards and a touchdown, while Chris McCorkle added 110 receiving yards, a touchdown and an extra point. McCorkle also added two interceptions to go along with a team-high four flag pulls to pace the Blake defense in the victory.

Beach House Real Estate quarterback Don Purvis completed only five passes and was picked off twice, but switched to receiver and finished with 115 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Jon Moss completed only three passes, but they were good for 145 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.


Key Royale golf news

The Key Royale Club men played a nine-hole, modified-Stableford System match Sept. 19, with David Crabb the big winner on a plus-1.

The Key Royale women got on the course Sept. 21 for a nine-hole, individual-low-net golf match in two flights.

Helen Pollock carded a 2-under-par 30 to grab first place in flight A. Debi Wohlers was one shot back in second place, while Phyllis Roe was alone in third with an even-par 32.

Jana Samuels fired a 2-under-par 30 to take first place in flight B. Sue Wheeler took second place with a 1-over-par 33, while Fran Barford and Terry Westby were tied for third with matching 35s.

The men were back on the course Sept. 22 for a nine-hole scramble. The team of Jon Holcomb, Hoyt Miller and Ron Vandeman combined on a 3-under-par 29 to earn clubhouse bragging rights.


Horseshoe news

Two teams emerged from pool play and were left to battle for top dog in the Sept. 21 horseshoe action at the Anna Maria City Hall horseshoe pits.

The team of Dom Livedoti and Neil Nennessey earned a trip to the winner’s circle after defeating Sam Samuels and Roger Nigg by a 23-14 score.

Tim Sofran was the outright champ during Sept. 24 action after forging the only 3-0 record in pool play.

Play gets underway at 9 a.m. every Wednesday and Saturday at the Anna Maria City Hall pits. Warmups begin at 8:45 a.m. followed by random team selection.

There is no charge to play and everyone is welcome.


Cornhole action continues at Ugly Grouper

Cornhole action continues at the Ugly Grouper Bar & Grill, 5704 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, with games played Tuesday nights.

Ugly Grouper Toss Me Softly, Amateur Corn Stars and Captain Morgan Charters are 4-0 for a three-way tie for first place. Tag em and Bag em and AMI Car Wash are 3-1 and tied for fourth place. Island Coffee Haus AMI, Island Coffee Haus HB, Corn Dawgs #2, Island Bazaar Beach Bums, Def Con 5 and General Store all are 2-2 in a six-way tie for fifth place. Corn Dawgs #1 are alone in 11th place while The Feast, the Duck and the Corn, Island Coffee Haus and Beach Monkey Pools are 0-4 — tied for last place.


Fish the mullet-only tourney

Not too many fishing tournaments focus on the lowly mullet as the prize.

Often offshore tournaments feature big game, marlin or sailfish, pricey entry fees and big prizes. Tarpon tournaments are the same.

Inshore, fishers often gear up for a trifecta — snook, redfish and spotted seatrout.

But come Oct. 1, locals — especially the commercial fishing experts working out of Cortez — have a chance to compete in a mullet hunt with an entry fee of $20.

A captain’s meeting — including a free drink for participants — for the third annual Flippin’ Mullet Sports Bar Mullet Fishing tournament will be 7-10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, at the Flippin’ Mullet bar at Swordfish Grill, 4628 119th St. W., Cortez.

Fising starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, and closes out at the weigh-in at the Flippin’ bar at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2., followed by the awards party at 6 p.m.

Prizes are offered for the five biggest mullet.

For information, call 941-798-2035.


Fishing – 09-21-2016

Clear water results in great fishing action for AMI anglers

Our local waters are beginning to clear up and the fishing is clearly improving.

Fishing along the beaches and out to the inshore reefs is proving to be good for a number of species, including mangrove snapper, flounder and Spanish mackerel. The waters along the beaches once again are very clear, so it can pay off to pay attention to leader sizes. I’m finding that 20-pound test fluorocarbon is working fine. If you’re free-lining baits to mangrove snapper, you may want to scale down to 15-pound test fluorocarbon to really get the bite going.

On the flats, snook and redfish are proving to be a popular attraction. Many juvenile snook are present over shallow flats where strong tidal flow exists. Free-lined live shiners are the bait of choice. While most of these fish are under-slot, they provide good action on light spinning tackle. As for the redfish, I’m finding them a little spread out. Fishing mangrove edges and oyster bars is resulting in a few hookups on reds, but I’ve yet to see any rallies like we saw before Hurricane Hermine passed by in the Gulf of Mexico.

Ultimately, I think the best bite for me is from flounder. I’m having numerous days of clients catching up to a dozen flounder, and a lot of these fish are 18-22 inches. While these fish may not be the most sporty of catches, what they lack in stamina they make up for on the dinner plate. I’m definitely a fan of catch-and-release fishing, but I have to admit that if I catch a keeper flounder, it’s headed for fillet and fry.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is fishing inshore this week, where as a result of large schools of baitfish congregating along the beaches and in the bays, he’s finding great action for snook, redfish and trout.

For the snook, Lowman is targeting areas where mangrove edges and/or oyster bars are present in conjunction with strong tidal flow, where redfish can be found. Live shiners combined with some 25-pound fluorocarbon for leader and a 3/0 circle hook are proving successful for Lowman’s clients.

For the trout, Lowman is working slightly deeper areas where clear water and sandy potholes exist. Casting free-lined live shiners to the edges of the potholes, where grass and sand meet, is attracting a bite. While targeting the trout, Lowman is finding ladyfish, jack crevalle and an occasional flounder are cooperating.

Capt. Warren Girle is wetting his lines over nearshore structure for mangrove snapper. Live shiners fished on a bottom rig around the artificial reefs and wrecks are resulting in mangrove snapper up to 16 inches. Mixed in with the snapper bite are Key West grunts, juvenile grouper and a few flounder. Casting free-lined baits in these same areas is resulting in Spanish mackerel in the 15- to 20-inch range for Girle’s clients.

Moving inshore, Girle is working the shallow flats in Sarasota Bay for snook and redfish. Both are being found in depths of 2-3 feet in areas with sandy potholes and depressions. Free-lined live shiners or shiners under a popping cork are attracting attention from fish on the feed.

Lastly, spotted seatrout are being caught with some regularity. Grass flats where depths are 5-7 feet are holding fish. Live shiners free-lined in these areas are proving to be the bait of choice. Expect to also encounter jack crevalle, ladyfish and macks while targeting the trout bite.

Capt. Rick Gross also is working the flats for snook and redfish. Both species, although somewhat elusive, seem to be finding their way onto the Fishy Business boat. Areas where tidal flow is present along with other features, such as turtle grass, mangrove edges and oyster bars, are Gross’ go-to spots to start the day’s fishing. Slot sizes of snook and redfish are being caught.

Fishing nearshore and inshore structure also is providing action for Gross. Mangrove snapper, flounder and imperial snapper are being taken on live shiners. You also can expect to see macks, ladyfish and blue runners.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is excited to see the arrival of redfish. Anglers using select shrimp or pinfish as bait are hooking into an occasional redfish at the pier with most catches over the maximum 27 inches. While targeting reds, pier fishers are catching black drum and a few mangrove snapper.

Snook are another favorite at the R&R this week. With snook season open, Malfese says local fishers are “coming out of the woodwork” to try their luck at the pier. And with the slot falling between 28-33 inches for a keeper, you better believe a little luck is needed. Live shiners, pinfish and jumbo shrimp are coveted baits at the pier, although live ladyfish and finger mullet are working, too.

Capt. Jason Stock is running offshore for mangrove snapper and gag grouper. Ledges, wrecks and reefs are his stalking grounds. Live shiners or pinfish combined with a weighted rig and dropped to the bottom are quickly being eaten by hungry snapper and gags. Limits of snapper are attainable with most catches falling between 15-20 inches.

Permit are coming to the boat for Stock while wreck fishing with live, free-lined pass crabs. He’s seeing permit catches up to 15 pounds for his clients.

Capt. David White of Great White Charters is working inshore for redfish, where the bite has picked up as a result of cooler water temps and an occasional front moving through. To hook up with the reds, White is dock fishing or plying the flats for schools of reds. For bait, he likes using pinfish under the docks. On the flats, he prefers a shiner under a popping cork.

Snook fishing also is heating up for White. Fishing deeper potholes in the bay during the low tides and up against the mangroves during high tides is proving prosperous. Shiners are his bait of choice, although top-water plugs, such as the Top Dog Jr. from 
MirrOlure, will get you connected.

Finally, mangrove snapper are being taken from local reefs and wrecks. Live shiners free-lined in a chum slick are proving most productive for White.

Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.


Spearfishers set to compete

The fifth annual Suncoast Spearfishing Challenge will get underway Friday, Sept. 23, and continue through Sunday, Sept. 25, challenging participants in a variety of categories.

The weekend-long underwater hunt is being hosted by the Seafood Shack Marina Bar and Grill, 4110 127th St., Cortez, and is presented by Scuba Quest and Salt Life Optics. As in 2015, Operation Second Chance, a nonprofit comprised of citizens committed to serving wounded, injured and ill combat veterans, will be receiving proceeds from the tournament.

Entry is free for all active military personnel, fire, EMS and anyone in law enforcement.

Prizes and trophies will be awarded to the top overall competitors as well as the top three female, free dive and junior divers.

Cash awards will be presented to the top three overall boats and several fish categories, including largest lionfish.

Final registration for the tournament will be 6-8:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23, in the Neptune Room at the restaurant, with the captain’s meeting and mandatory diver check-in at 8:30 p.m.

Tournament weigh-in begins at 11 a.m. Sept. 25 at the marina.

For rules and entry forms, visit www.suncoastspearfishingchallenge.com. For more information, call tournament director Capt. Chris Barton at 941-405-9689.

Fishing – 09-14-2016

Freshwater invades bay waters, but doesn’t dampen fishing


Despite our waters being a dark tannic color resembling Coca-Cola as a result of the millions of gallons of freshwater draining from Lake Manatee, fishing remains productive.

Snook fishing is proving prosperous if you know where to look. Hundreds, if not thousands of juvenile snook have been pushed out of the Manatee River with the overflow of fresh water.

Redfish are following suit, although I wouldn’t say in the thousands. I’m also finding decent numbers of mangrove snapper and flounder around residential docks and canals, as well as on nearshore structure.

Finally, spotted seatrout are present, although they seem to be slightly apprehensive about taking bait. Mixed in with the trout are hungry jack crevalle and ladyfish, which helps fill the void between trout bites. The water may not be that beautiful shade of translucent green that we are accustomed to, but if you overcome the color transition, it’s worth getting out and doing some fishing.

Capt. Warren Girle is working on the nearshore structure for mangrove snapper. Live shiners fished on a knocker rig and sent to the bottom are resulting in mangrove snapper up to 16 inches. Chumming with dead shiners is helping to get the snapper bite going. Mixed in with the snapper are juvenile grouper and Key West grunts.

Moving inshore, Girle is catching trout on the flats of Sarasota Bay. Live shiners free-lined or under a cork are producing the bite over deep grass. On shallower grass flats, this method is attracting trout and an occasional redfish.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is running his clients inshore for redfish and snook. Both species are being caught by fishing mangrove edges where good tidal flow exists and high tides seem to be best for targeting either species. Live shiners cast up under the bushes are resulting in strikes. Slot-size redfish are being taken, while most snook catches are falling short of the 28-inch minimum size.

Dock fishing around residential canals and seawalls also is producing action for Lowman. Mangrove snapper and flounder are the usual suspects, with an occasional redfish or snook in the mix, and Jack crevalle also are present.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says despite some windy days and poor water quality, pier fishers are managing to find a bite. Anglers using the R&R live shrimp are catching mangrove snapper, flounder, black drum and some over-slot redfish. All of these species are being taken with a bottom rig that helps keep the bait secure under the pier. Snook are hooking up under the pier on live baits — shrimp, shiners and pinfish.

Pier fishers using artificials, such as jigs or silver spoons, are doing a lot of casting and retrieving but not catching like normal. Typically, large bait schools are present around the pier, but with the amount of freshwater present, the bait has moved to the beach. That being said, predators — Spanish mackerel and jacks — have likely moved as well, in tow with their food source.

Capt. Rick Gross is working the flats for snook and redfish. Both species seem to be cooperating on days when the winds and tides are right. Live shiners, free-lined or fished under a cork are producing a bite. To locate fish, Gross is pulling up to mangrove edges, oyster bars or edges of sandbars, where the flats drop into deeper water.

Mangrove snapper are being taken on shiners cast under docks or around nearshore structure, resulting in limits of these tasty fish for clients aboard Fishy Business. Average size is 12-14 inches with an occasional larger fish in the mix. Flounder and juvenile grouper also are present.

Capt. David White of Great White Charters is fishing the flats this week. On deeper grass areas, White is finding a mixed bag of spotted seatrout, ladyfish and jack crevalle, with all three species taking free-lined live shiners. This bite provides great action and, as a bonus, White’s clients get to put some trout in the cooler for dinner.

Snook and redfish are being found in the shallow grass flats and around docks, where casting live shiners under a cork or free-lined is producing a bite. Keeper snook are a little hard to come by, according to White, but when it comes to the reds, slot fish are being taken.

Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Fishing – 09-07-2016

Hermine pours rain, churns waters, dampens fishing


In the wake of Hermine, post-storm fishing may be challenging.

My best guess is to start where you left off before Hermine and work your way from there.

It will be interesting if the schools of redfish that were appearing throughout our region have moved or if they’ve stayed close to where we found them before the storm.

I’m also waiting to see where the bait or “shiners” went. Will they be on the flats or did fresh waters — mixed with fertilizer and pesticide runoff — pouring out of the Manatee River push them out into the Gulf of Mexico?

Regardless, I think we anglers are going to have our work cut out for us.

During Hermine, “die-hard fishers found success by fishing very close to shore. In fact, during the flood tides, anglers were working on shore in some places you might recognize.

Casting directly onto Marina Drive from Hurricane Hanks north to about Domino’s produced a great snook bite. The water depth was about 2 feet deep, which is great for sight-casting. You just have to yield to the passing vehicles.

I also heard a school of redfish was swimming back and forth between the Ugly Grouper and Duffy’s Tavern. The kayak fishers capitalized on this bite as they were able to paddle along the road with the school of fish. Reports say the school was mostly over-slot fish and gold spoons were the lure of choice.

Lastly, the S-curve by the Manatee Public Beach was host to the kickoff for mullet season. A school of mullet, nearly an acre in size, managed to hold up traffic for almost a half-hour until they found their way back into the bay.

Now that Hermine is long gone, I guess we’ll have to go back to fishing in our old spots — Tampa Bay, Anna Maria Sound and the Gulf of Mexico. But, remember, the next time we have a monsoon-like rainstorm heading to Anna Maria Island, keep your eyes glued to the road while driving. You never know when you might find a new spot to fish.

Capt. Warren Girle is working inshore among the lush grass flats of Sarasota Bay. On low tides, Girle is catching redfish. During these tides, schooling redfish are moving from the flats to find slightly deeper water. Along the edges or drop offs, Girle is instructing clients to cast live shiners and fresh-cut chunks or ladyfish into the school. Within seconds, his clients are connected with a fish. Reds are coming to the boat over the maximum slot-size of 27 inches.

When the Gulf of Mexico is calm, Girle is venturing out to nearshore structure. Mangrove snapper and red grouper are being reeled up by using live shiners and pinfish as bait. Keeper-size snapper are most abundant.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is casting bait on the flats of Anna Maria Sound, resulting in a variety of species. Spotted seatrout are abundant on grass flats where clear, moving water and bait fish are present. According to Lowman, one out of 10 fish is over 20 inches. Mixed in with the trout are mangrove snapper, jack crevalle and bluefish.

Snook also are being found along mangrove edges and other staging areas, such as oyster bars and sandbars. Lowman is chumming with live shiners to get the snook “fired up” and in a feeding mood. Chumming also aids in locating feeding fish, as they break the surface going after bait. Casting free-lined live shiners is resulting in fish up to 30 inches.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says Spanish mackerel are making their presence known, especially among unsuspecting anglers using light leaders. The mack’s razor-sharp teeth can cut through 50-pound test leaders just as fast as they cut through a 2-pound test leader.

Fishers who think they have outwitted the mackerel by adding a wire leader to their rig will soon find they have idle time on their hands. They won’t get a bite. The macks can easily see the wire and turn away in the final second before taking the bait. Lucky pier fishers are catching macks up to 20 inches. Silver spoons, Gotcha plugs and small inexpensive jigs are the preferred lures.

With snook season open as of Sept.1, the Rod & Reel Pier is a popular spot for anglers to try their luck. They’re using live baits, from shiners to ladyfish, to entice a keeper-size linesider to their hook. Large select shrimp and pinfish also are good baits, as well as artificial plugs, such as the Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is working his trade in southern Tampa Bay for mangrove snapper. Whether fishing deeper water with structure or shallower grass flats and channel edges, Gross is finding limits of snapper for his clients. While fishing structure, Gross likes to use a knocker rig consisting of a small egg sinker, which slides directly on top of a 1/0 circle hook. While fishing the flats, a small live-bait hook completes the rig. Live shiners are the bait of choice.

For snook season, Gross is dialed in on the hunt for linesiders. As an avid snook fisherman since the 1980s, Gross is hot on their trail and ready to pounce. While hunting on the flats, Gross likes to free-line live shiners for bait. By throwing out a few volunteers — aka chummers — Gross is able to instruct his clients to cast at feeding fish. Fish 20-26 inches are the norm although expect to see some keeper-size fish in the slot while aboard the “Fishy Business.”

Capt. Jason Stock is on the hunt inshore for schools of redfish on the shallow grass flats throughout the surrounding waters of Anna Maria Island. Most schools contain fish over the max limit of 27 inches and baits, such as live shiners and pinfish, are producing a bite. Artificials — gold spoons and soft plastics — also produce a bite for Stock.

When the Gulf of Mexico is fishable, Stock is running offshore, where grouper, snapper and permit are all possibilities. Keeper-size mangoes are being reeled up in abundance on live shiners as bait. Both red and gag grouper are being taken on live bait. As for the permit, Stock says you can’t beat a live pass crab on the hook.

Capt. David White of Great White Charters is fishing the flats for spotted seatrout. White’s go-to bait is a live shiner fished under a popping cork. While targeting trout, White is also catching Spanish mackerel and bluefish.

Also on the flats, White is targeting redfish. His favorite is finding the big schools on the flats. During these times, the reds are apt to take just about any offering, according to White. In addition, it gives his clients an opportunity to hook up with as many reds as they can handle.

            Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Fishing – 08-24-2016

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Reds, flounder pass anglers’ time, fill coolers

The arrival of redfish to our local waters is a welcome sight. Schools of reds are being reported from just about every body of water near Anna Maria Island, from Miguel Bay to the north to southern Sarasota Bay. Most schools are containing at least a couple of fish.

Any number of methods will work to catch schooling reds, but the most important part is in your approach.

You’ve got to be quiet in your pursuit or you can forget it — the fish will move before you can get within casting range. I like using a gold spoon or top-water plug for reds. The reason is castability: A spoon or plug combined with some 10- or 15-pound braided line allows a cast that reaches a “country mile.” And that’s what you’re going to need to do so you don’t spook the school of fish.

Live baits — shiners and pinfish — will work, too, but you’d better have your push pole out to quietly slide into casting range without alarming the fish. Once you’re in position, a little chumming doesn’t hurt to keep the fish occupied.

On Southernaire Fishing Charters, I’m chasing these schools of redfish as they move across the flat. Other times, I’m seeing bull and blacktip sharks patrolling the edges of the schools waiting for the opportunity to snatch an unsuspecting redfish from the bunch.

And even though these sharks make the fish a little spooky, they aid in locating the reds. Most fish we are hooking into are taking gold spoons. Sizes vary from upper-slot to over-slot, but we’re also hooking into big bluefish, jack crevalle and trout.

The real highlight of the week for me is the abundance of flounder. Yeah, they may not be the sportiest fish in our waters, but what they lack in stamina, they make up for on the plate.

Live shiners on a knocker rig around rock piles, wrecks, reefs and docks are resulting in flounder up to 24 inches. And the sheer numbers we’re catching are unequaled during other times of the year. Mornings of catching 30 flounder are not unheard of. That said, flounder are in my cross hairs this week.

Also, a calendar note: Be sure to save the date for the Flippin’ Mullet Sports Bar’s third annual Mullet Fishing Tournament Oct. 1-2.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says mangrove snapper are so abundant they are chewing the pilings out from under the pier. Pier anglers who know their stuff are catching their limit of five snapper with ease. Most catches are occurring on live shrimp or shiners, although some fish are even being caught on artificials, such as soft plastics. Typically, live bait for snapper is a sure thing, so I would stick that on the hook.

Catch-and-release snook are accommodating pier anglers using live shiners and pinfish as bait. Most catches are 20-30 inches. Remember, when targeting snook at the pier, be sure to use stout gear. Anything too light will result in an instant cut off on the razor-sharp barnacles that coat the pilings.

Capt. Jason Stock is fishing offshore with good results on mangrove snapper and red grouper. Both species are being taken on live bait such as shiners and pinfish. Limits of snapper are being caught, while the red grouper is a little more sporadic. Keeper-size fish still are making their way in to the cooler. Also, while offshore, Stock is putting anglers on some goliath grouper in the 150-pound range.

Moving inshore, Stock is catching over-slot redfish on the flats of Sarasota Bay north to Southern Tampa Bay. These fish are being caught on either live or dead bait. Average sizes are exceeding 30-inches.

Meanwhile, Capt. Aaron Lowman is on the hunt for flounder. To target these tasty flat fish, Lowman is using either a knocker rig with a live shiner or artificials, such as the Berkley Gulp shrimp on a 3/8-ounce jig head. According to Lowman, the platter-size flounder, 20 inches and bigger are being found around residential docks. Typically, in these areas, two or three flounder can be found. Now for sheer numbers of fish, Lowman is fishing rock piles and reefs in both Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. These catches are generally in the 15- to 18-inch range.

On the flats, Lowman is targeting redfish. Most fish he is encountering are over-slot size — 18-to 27-inches — and spooky. Long casts with either live or dead bait are being rewarded with a bite. Lowman is hooking up by anchoring way ahead of the oncoming fish and then chumming to keep the fish interested long enough to make a cast before they pass the boat.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is working structure in Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. By dropping live shiners to the bottom on a knocker rig, his clients are reeling up numerous flounder and mangrove snapper. Most flounder catches are 15-20 inches. As for the snapper, 12-15 inches is average.

Along the beaches, Gross is casting jigs into the surf in search of permit. Schools of fish in the 5-pound range are being found near shorelines adjacent to deep water, such as channels or passes. Color combinations on the jigs include pink and white or bright yellow.

Capt. Warren Girle is fishing offshore on days when the wind is light and the seas are calm. In depths of 40-plus feet, Girle is catching mangrove snapper up to 5 pounds. In these same areas, Girle is hooking up with catching barracuda and an occasional hammerhead shark.

Moving inshore, Girle is seeing an abundance of spotted seatrout in Sarasota Bay. Mixed in with the trout bite are Spanish mackerel and ladyfish.

Redfish are being targeted by Girle in Sarasota Bay. Most catches are over the maximum size of 27 inches. For bait, Girle is using live shiners and fresh-cut chunks of ladyfish.

Capt. David White of Great White Charters is catching numerous spotted seatrout on the grass flats with water depths of 3-4 feet. Fish up to 25-inches are being taken on both live shiners and pinfish under a popping cork.

Redfish are being found on slightly deeper grass flats in depths of 5-6 feet. Again, live shiners cast to these fish are attracting a bite. White definitely likes to fish at sunrise and sunset for these schooling reds.

Finally, blacktip sharks are finding their way to White’s tackle. By setting a chum bag over the side of the boat and casting live ladyfish as bait, Smith is attracting blacktips of 4-6 feet.


Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Fishing – 08-24-2016

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Rain, rain stay away — it’s time to go fishin’

ishing around Anna Maria Island is settling into a typical August pattern. Mangrove snapper are found throughout our waters around any structure — reefs, rock piles, bridges and docks. Even on the flats, keeper-size mangoes are coming to the hook.

Spotted seatrout are in abundance. Most trout being caught are less than 15 inches, but the sheer numbers of fish gives us hope of a great bite for the fall.

Catch-and-release snook fishing is as good as it gets, especially along the Gulf beaches. Sight-casting to 30-plus-inch linesiders is always worthy of taking a walk along the shore with a rod and reel by both novice and seasoned anglers.

On my own Southernaire Fishing Charters, I’m cashing in on the abundance of mangrove snapper. Limits of tasty little fish are attainable on the artificial reefs around docks and bridges.

Not only do these snapper put up a good fight on light tackle, but also they are superb on the plate. This gives visiting anglers a chance to sample some great fishing action, as well as the reward of dinner.

Spotted seatrout are next on the list and free-lining live shiners over deep grass flats is producing some sizzling action. In some instances, we’re catching 20-30 trout without pulling anchor or moving. Getting keeper-size fish is a little challenging, but we are putting enough fish in the cooler for dinner.

Add some Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and jack crevalle to the mix and things can shape into a great day of fishing.

Finally, the arrival of redfish is a welcome sight. Schools of fish can be found on shallow grass flats and even on some deeper flats.

These schools are no secret, so the fishing pressure can leave them shy. I’m resorting to using gold spoons to get a bite. The advantage of using the spoon is in the casting range. With a half-ounce gold spoon, you can cast far, which makes it easier to follow the school. This theory holds true until you hook a red and the school follows it as you get it to the boat. When this occurs, I have quietly waited until the school regroups and settles. Then I repeat the process.

Capt. Warren Girle is fishing offshore structure with good results. By using live shiners as bait, Girle is reeling up a variety of species — red grouper, mangrove snapper and yellowtail snapper. These fish are being found around reefs, ledges and hard bottom, along with goliath grouper and an occasional cobia.

Moving inshore, Girle is targeting spotted seatrout throughout the deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Mixed in with the trout bite are bluefish, ladyfish and Spanish mackerel. For bait, Girle is free-lining live shiners.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is seeking a redfish bite along mangrove shorelines where grass is present. According to Lowman, the fish are biting better on days when tidal movement is at its peak and live shiners under a cork and cut ladyfish are producing.

Trout fishing over deeper flats in Anna Maria Sound also is providing good action for Lowman’s clients. Most catches are falling under the minimum 15 inches, although with persistence, limits of keeper fish are attainable. Live shiners fished under a popping cork and Berkley Gulp shrimp on a jig head are Lowman’s baits of choice.

Finally, dock fishing in canals adjacent to deep channels is producing a bite from mangrove snapper and flounder. Live shiners on a knocker cast under docks are producing the bite.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is searching nearshore and inshore structure for mangrove snapper, where live shiners free-lined in the tide or fished under a knocker rig are resulting in mangoes up to 15 inches. While targeting snapper, Gross is encountering macks, ladyfish and jack crevalle.

Catch-and-release snook fishing is red-hot for Gross. His clients are finding free-lined shiners or shiners under a small cork are attracting slot-size and under-slot snook. Shallow grass flats adjacent to mangrove shoreline and oyster bars are top spots to target the linesiders.

To finish out the day, Gross is targeting spotted seatrout on the deep grass flats of southern Tampa Bay, where live shiners free-lined over grass flats on incoming tides are producing slot-size trout.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says pier fishers using live shrimp as bait are catching respectable numbers of mangrove snapper. Most catches are falling between 10-12 inches and some anglers are finding an occasional flounder and some sheepshead on the hook.

Catch-and-release snook fishing is really heating up at the R&R pier, where live pinfish, ladyfish and shiners as bait are producing snook up to 40 inches. Most snook are falling between 20-24 inches, although anglers with patience are being rewarded with larger fish.

Capt. Jason Stock is targeting redfish on shallow flats along mangrove edges and sandbars, where live shiners cast into schooling fish are resulting in multiple hookups for his clients. While targeting reds, Stock is encountering big jack crevalle, snook and an occasional gator trout.

Moving offshore, Stock is finding permit ready to take the hook on live pass crabs. Permit in the 10- to 20-pound range are the norm.

Mangrove snapper and goliath grouper are being caught offshore. Live shiners are working well for the snapper. As for the goliath grouper, either large Spanish mackerel or jack crevalle make an ideal bait.

Capt. David White of Great White fishing charters is fishing deeper grass flats for spotted seatrout. Live shiners fished under a cork are producing good numbers of trout for White and his clients. Slot and under-slot fish are abundant.

Also, while targeting trout, White is finding mangrove snapper. These 10- to 12-inch snapper inhabit deeper grass flats, which is an added bonus for anglers.

Redfish are cooperating with White, who finds them roaming shallow grass flats around oyster bars during incoming tides. White is casting live shiners in areas where these redfish are feeding to attract a bite.

Finally, although tarpon season has passed, White is managing to jump an occasional silver king. Most of his hookups are occurring while trout fishing on the deep grass flats. The battle is usually short-lived, as trout tackle is no match for a 100-pound fish, but the excitement and shock of hooking the huge silver king leaves smiles on the faces of White’s clients.

Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Fishing – 08-17-2016

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Rain, rain stay away — it’s time to go fishin’


Despite the monsoon that fell over our waters for nearly a week, area fishers are finding a good bite.

Fishing the flats for spotted seatrout is still a good bet. Most catches are 12-14 inches which, although just below the legal limit of 15 inches, still provides good action on the water. Mixed in with the trout bite is a whole assortment of other species — Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jack crevalle and ladyfish.

Fishing reefs and wrecks in Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico is proving productive for mangrove snapper. Small, live shiners on a knocker rig are working most of the time. When the snapper get weird, you can free-line baits or even pieces of bait to get a bite.

On Southernaire Fishing Charters, I’m guiding clients to snapper. I like chumming the snapper with fresh dead shiners. Once the snapper are schooled up and happy, feeding in the chum, I like to free-line baits into the fish. For rigging, I’m using about 10 feet of 15-pound fluorocarbon for a leader with a No. 4 hook added to the rig. A lot of times I’m using just a half piece of bait and burying the hook in it so the snapper doesn’t shy away.

This method is resulting in limits of snapper — sometimes 12-15 inches for my clients. While targeting snapper, we’re getting cut off by mackerel, but also catching a few macks, thanks to the small hooks and light leader.

On the flats, I’m finding seatrout quite accommodating. Free-lined live shiners are quickly being eaten by the hungry trout that are taking up residence over the deep grass flats of Tampa Bay. A lot of the trout are just below slot-size but, with determination, anglers are reeling up their limits of keeper fish.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing most fishers catching mangrove snapper. Live shrimp fished under the pier on a weighted rig are quickly being taken by the hungry mangrove snapper. Most catches are 10-14 inches. Fishers targeting snapper are catching the sheepshead, black drum and flounder.

The highlight of the week or possibly the whole year at the R&R is the catch and release of a sawfish. An estimated 10-foot smallmouth sawfish was caught by Dean Franklin of Bradenton. Franklin was looking for shark with a piece of cut ladyfish when the unsuspecting sawfish came by and decided to take the hook. Franklin walked the fish up to the shore, where he observed the saw was intact and the fish was released.

For FAQ on smalltooth sawfish, a member of the ray family and an endangered species since 2003, go online to myfwc.com/research/saltwater/fish/sawfish/faq/.

Capt. Warren Girle is working offshore for mangrove snapper when the weather permits. Mangrove snapper 15-20 inches are responding to live shiners fished on a knocker rig. Artificial reefs and ledges are top producers for Girle when he’s targeting snapper. While reeling up snapper, Girle clients also are hooking into an occasional barracuda.

Moving inshore, Girle is finding his share of spotted seatrout. Throughout the deeper grass flats of Sarasota Bay, Girle’s anglers are catching trout by free-lining live shiners for bait. Mixed in with the trout are ladyfish, bluefish and Spanish mackerel.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is targeting spotted seatrout in Anna Maria Sound and southern Tampa Bay. Fishing clear water where deep grass is present is producing good numbers of trout for Lowman’s charter anglers. Live shiners free-lined or slightly weighted with a split shot are resulting in fish up to 22 inches.

Fishing rocks and docks is providing plenty of action on Lowman’s charters. He says the shaded areas around residential docks provide cooler water, which produces more oxygenated water. Flounder, redfish and mangrove snapper are being taken from these shaded areas and live shiners are the bait of choice.

Capt. Jason Stock is fishing offshore with good results. By anchoring over ledges and hard bottom, Stock is finding some cooperative mangrove snapper. By chumming with dead shiners, Stock is luring the snapper up from the bottom and then drifting baits to the feeding fish. His method is resulting in snapper up to 20 inches for his clients. In these same areas, Stock is finding Goliath grouper.

By fishing the offshore wrecks, Stock is catching respectable numbers of permit. Small pass crabs drifted back in the current over the wreck are triggering permit in the 20-pound range to bite the hook.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is targeting catch-and-release snook around mangrove islands and oyster bars. Live shiners fished under a cork in these areas are producing snook 20-30 inches. Mixed in with the snook are the occasional redfish or gator trout.

Fishing structure in Tampa Bay is resulting in a multitude of mangrove snapper. To catch these snapper, Gross is using a light fluorocarbon leader of 15-pound test combined with a small No. 4 hook. By scaling down his terminal tackle, Gross is leading his clients to limits of 12-15 inch snapper.

Capt. David White of Great White charters says the redfish bite is picking up. Slightly cooler temperatures seem to have triggered the reds into a favorable feeding pattern, ready to hook up with clients on a free-lined pilchard under a popping cork.

White also is targeting spotted seatrout on the edges of the deeper flats.

Macks seem to be everywhere and long-shanked hooks with a shiner or a Gotcha plug are working for these high-activity fish. There seems to be quite a few ladyfish mixed in with them — always good for a jump or two, says White.

White has been finding some nice flounder on the edges of the reefs. He says a knocker rig with a big bait will do the trick for these fish. You may grab a snapper or two in the process, he adds.

Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.