Well, after a week-long soaking from thunderstorms, fishing around Anna Maria Island is starting to fall back into the summertime pattern that started a few weeks earlier, in spite of the official start of summer this week, June 21.
Fishing the flats for snook and spotted seatrout is proving to be effective. For the snook, mangrove shorelines where good tidal flow exists is producing decent numbers of catch-and-release fish. As for the trout, deeper grass flats during early morning outgoing tides seem to be the ticket. Mixed in with the trout are ladyfish, jack crevalle and Spanish mackerel — a nice addition to the bite.
Fishing rock piles, reefs and wrecks is resulting in some tasty species of fish, including mangrove snapper, flounder, permit and cobia. Other species being found in these areas include barracuda, goliath grouper, sharks and bonito.
On Southernaire charters, we are reef fishing, where mangrove snapper are making a decent showing, although you still have to work to achieve limits. Flounder are in the mix at 15-20 inches. Lastly, cobia up to 38 inches are taking the hook. Catching and landing these large fish on “snapper tackle” requires some skill and a little luck.
On the flats, I’m finding the spotted seatrout accommodating. Free-lined live shiners cast over flats with depths of 6-8 feet are producing trout 15-20 inches along with Spanish mackerel, bluefish and ladyfish.
Capt. Aaron Lowman is working the flats of southern Tampa Bay for spotted seatrout. Fishing deep grass flats of 5 feet or more where strong-flowing tides exist is resulting in numerous trout, as well as bluefish, ladyfish and Spanish mackerel. Live, free-lined shiners are Lowman’s bait of choice.
Moving out into the Gulf of Mexico, Lowman is patrolling wrecks and reefs in search of a bite. Free-lining live threadfin herring in these areas is resulting in shark, bonito and barracuda.
Capt. Warren Girle is targeting tarpon along the beaches of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. Casting live crabs or threadfin herring to schooling fish is resulting in hookups of these powerful fish. Persistence is key this week, since fewer numbers of fish are present due to the full moon. Average size of the tarpon being caught is 80-150 pounds.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing numerous snook under the pier and along the shoreline near the pier. Live, free-lined shiners are hooking the smaller fish along the beach, while larger baits, such as pinfish, ladyfish and grunts are attracting slot- and over-slot fish to the bite. The snook put up a good fight, but alas, it’s all catch and release now.
Pier fishers using shrimp for bait are hooking into an occasional redfish, flounder and jack crevalle. Using artificials — jigs or spoons — is resulting in a mack bite.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is having good results with snook on free-lined live shiners on shallow grass flats with numerous hookups of 20-30 inch fish. Mangrove shorelines and oyster bars include some of the aspects of good snook territory. Combine these with good tidal flow and you have a recipe for some great action.
Fishing deeper grass flats with Gross is producing spotted sea trout, bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Free-lined live shiners are Gross’ bait of choice.
Finally, fishing rock piles in Tampa Bay is producing mangrove snapper, juvenile grouper and flounder.
Capt. Jason Stock is pursuing tarpon, patrolling beaches and passes from Egmont Key to Longboat. He’s producing respectable numbers of fish for his clients, with live crabs, threadfin herring, pinfish and large shiners as bait. He reports the sizes of tarpon between 80-160 pounds.
Moving offshore, Stock is finding his share of permit around the wrecks. Live pass crabs sight-cast to these schooling “garbage can lids” are producing hookups with fish up to 25 pounds. Also, while offshore, Stock is catching mangrove snapper on live shiners around reefs and over hard bottom.
Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is working inshore charters with good results. Redfish, spotted seatrout, mangrove snapper and catch-and-release snook are being caught by his clients. Live bait is producing good action, although even fly fishing is producing a bite. Large bull redfish are readily taking flies in clouser and mullet patterns.
Moving offshore, White is hooking up with numerous snapper, including yellowtail, mangrove and lane. Live shiners are producing, but live shrimp also are attracting fish to the hook, especially hogfish.
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