Tag Archives: fishing

December fishing provides anglers a variety of catches

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Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters shows off the hefty black fin tuna he caught Dec. 12 offshore.
Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters shows off the hefty black fin tuna he caught Dec. 12 offshore.
Celebrating king of kings The king run is still strong offshore of Anna Maria Island, evidenced by Janice Baxley, left, assisting Cindy Brown of Clermont with her smoker kingfish, caught offshore using a large grunt in about 70 feet of water. The anglers were catching grouper and snapper when the king crashed the Christmas party, according to their guide, Capt Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters.

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.

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

Winter is coming — time to bait shrimp for a hookup

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Howard Genesr, visiting from New Jersey, gets an assist Dec. 7 on his Christmas cobia from his guide, Capt. Larry McGuire. Genesr and his group caught grouper and snapper in about 95 feet of water offshore of the island, before they saw the cobia swim by the boat. McGuire said Genesr quickly dropped a line with a large grunt on the hook — leading to the catch of his life.
Ken Wawrewr and Roger Staig from Toronto, Canada, show off their Dec. 4 trout catch. They were guided by Capt. Warren Girle.

Baiting your hook with shrimp is becoming a necessity due to falling water temperatures and passing cold fronts.

There are shiners to be caught on the flats but, in most instances, substituting live shrimp can yield good results.

I’m finding an abundance of redfish around residential docks and canals that are more than happy to eat my live shrimp offerings. While searching for redfish, the shrimp are producing increasing numbers of black drum and sheepshead on my charters. And that’s a sure sign winter is around the corner.

Using shrimp as bait will work for most other species you’ll encounter in the back country, as well as around the nearshore reefs and ledges. Flounder, mangrove snapper and Key West grunts will readily take a well-placed shrimp on the reef. And don’t forget about sheepshead — they love nibbling shrimp.

Fishing the flats can be productive with shrimp. Deeper flats where spotted seatrout, bluefish and mackerel are lurking are a good place to cast a line. And don’t hesitate to cast a shrimp on a shallow flat to a snook. Most of the time, the shrimp will get inhaled before you can close the bail.

Capt. Warren Girle is fishing offshore when winds are light and the seas are calm. Using live shiners as bait around the artificial reefs is resulting in catches of mangrove snapper and Key West grunts by his clients. Trolling large-lipped plugs such as the Mann’s Stretch 30 over hard bottom and ledges is producing keeper-size gag grouper for Girle’s clients.

On the flats of Sarasota Bay, Girle is finding the trout bite to be the most consistent. Using live shiners or shrimp free-lined or under a cork is producing multiple hookups on trout, although many are under the 15-inch minimum limit. Keeper-fish are mixed in and Girle’s determined anglers are putting their limit in the cooler. *

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing pier fishers reeling up sheepshead, black drum and flounder on live shrimp. All three species are being caught with a bottom rig and a shrimp. Casting this rig under the pier deck is most advantageous for anglers looking to reel up dinner.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is working the deep grass flats in the bays for spotted seatrout. Using live shiners under a popping cork is leading Gross’ clients to rallies of schooley-sized trout. Slot fish 15-16 inches are mixed in with an array of smaller fish. While targeting trout, Gross is finding bluefish and jack crevalle, too.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is targeting the flats with good results. On shallower flats, catch-and-release snook are being caught with some regularity with live shiners as bait. Free-lining these shiners is resulting in snook ranging 20-24 inches. On deeper grass flats, Lowman is finding spotted seatrout are cooperative. Live shiners or live shrimp fished under a popping cork are attracting this bite.

After flats fishing, Lowman is working his way around the residential docks and canals. By using live shrimp as bait, he’s putting clients on a variety of species, including black drum, sheepshead and flounder. Typically, when fishing these areas, Lowman likes to use a knocker rig to keep the bait on the bottom, where the target is lurking.

Capt. Jason Stock says he’s running clients offshore with good results. Using large baits — threadfin herring or large shiners — is attracting attention from some tough fighting fish, including amberjack, cobia and king mackerel. These three species are being taken by free-lining baits behind the boat around wrecks and reefs.

Bottom fishing in these same areas is resulting in catches of gag grouper and mangrove snapper. Stock also is finding Goliath grouper present in considerable numbers, which makes it imperative to quickly reel up your catch before it gets eaten by a much bigger fish.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters —  formerly Great White Charters —  is working the inshore flats of Sarasota Bay and beyond. During morning low tides, White is finding numerous trout and snook. On the extreme low tides, these fish find pot holes where they can take refuge until the tide rises. By casting a shiner or shrimp into a hole, White is finding a bite.

On deeper flats, White is hooking up with Spanish mackerel and bluefish. For rigging, he’s using a long shank hook under a popping cork. Combine this with a live shiner and, as White says, “The bite is on.”

Fishing – 12-07-2016

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James, left, and Grady Clark, 13, visiting Anna Maria Island from Colorado, find success fishing near shore Nov. 29. With shiners as bait, they were guided by Capt. Warren Girle to a dinner catch of mangrove snapper.


Shiners keep rods bent for anglers inshore, nearshore


Despite some recent cold weather, fishing around Anna Maria Island is holding fast.

With late-season shiners available as bait, many anglers are finding success in the back country and out in the Gulf of Mexico.

Fishing the flats for snook and trout is still going strong. I’m finding the snook fishing is improving during the afternoon tide, when the water temps are reaching their peak. Remember, snook season closed Dec. 1, so all linesiders are catch-and-release.

As for trout fishing, deep and shallower flats are producing a bite. I suggest using a popping cork or a facsimile while baiting shiners, as most trout I’m hooking up with are on the small side. When using the smaller bait, you’ll find it a lot easier to cast with a weighted cork added to your rig.

While fishing offshore, the shiners are working well for Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper and even bottom-dwelling cobia. For the macks, a free-lined shiner on a long shank hook will get you connected. As for the snapper, a circle hook and egg sinker made into a knocker rig will get your bait down where the snapper are feeding. And while you’re doing this, don’t be surprised to hook into an occasional cobia. They’re down there and the brown bombers aren’t picky about big or small bait.

Capt. Warren Girle is working nearshore structure for a variety of species. Mangrove snapper are being caught while bottom fishing with live shiners. While bottom fishing for snapper, Girle’s clients are reeling up loads of Key West grunts and porgies. Red grouper and cobia are present, too, but they are not being caught with the regularity of the snapper and grunts.

Inshore fishing is providing Girle’s clients with rod-bending action. While fishing deep grass areas with free-lined shiners as bait, Girle is putting clients onto spotted seatrout and bluefish. Slot-size trout are being caught as well as many under-slot fish. As for the bluefish, 5-pounders are not uncommon.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is snook fishing on the grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Despite cooler water temperatures, Lowman is finding good numbers of snook since the species went out of season and he’s catching them, too. Live free-lined shiners or shiners under a popping cork are Lowman’s bait of choice, although the species is out of season.

Moving out into the Gulf of Mexico, Lowman is finding plenty of Spanish mackerel and kingfish. Large shiners or threadfin herring as bait are triggering the kings to take a taste. As for the macks, small shiners or Gotcha plugs are working well.

Reef fishing for Lowman also is providing action for his clients. Bottom fishing with live shiners as bait is resulting in mangrove snapper, grouper and an occasional cobia.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says fishers there are using live shrimp as bait with success. Using a bottom rig such as the fish-finder rig or knocker rig combined with live shrimp is resulting in black drum, redfish, flounder and sheepshead. Most hookups are occurring by casting baits under the pier or at least dropping them straight among the pilings. Keeper-sizes of the sheepies, black drum and flounder are being caught. As for the redfish, most catches are over the 27-inch maximum slot limit.

Capt. Jason Stock is having great luck while fishing nearshore and offshore structure. By bottom fishing with live shiners on the hook, Stock’s clients are reeling up mangrove snapper, gag grouper and cobia. Fishing live shiners on the surface is resulting in kingfish and Spanish mackerel.

While fishing reefs and wrecks in 30-60 feet of water, Stock is switching tactics and using live shrimp as bait to entice hogfish to take the bait. Fish 3-5 pounds are being taken with regularity.

Capt. David White of Great White charters is fishing inshore with good results. While fishing deep grass flats with shiners under a popping cork, White is finding numerous fish. Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, seatrout, redfish, snook and flounder are all being taken on this method. White is finding the most success while drifting and casting baits.

Fishing offshore is proving good for White’s clients looking for gag grouper. Dropping live pinfish or shiners to the bottom during morning tides is resulting in many hookups. Using shrimp as bait is producing a bite off shore, where hogfish are waiting for patient anglers weeding through the many grunts for a hog.

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

Red hot fishing action remains during passing cold fronts

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Jayne, Merrill and Bayne Froney, all visiting AMI from Michigan, show off their dinner, caught Nov. 25 on a charter trip with Capt. Warren Girle. They found gag grouper and red grouper offshore. The mother and daughters hooked up with 75 species of fish by using shiners as bait, and this gag is the only one they kept for dinner, according to Girle.
Thanksgiving morning, Chris, Olivia, Lily and Jake Mann, visiting from Ohio, find success using shiners nearshore on cobia, snapper, mackerel and bluefish. The Mann family shares the holiday with parents and grandparents on Longboat Key and, for the past three years, have fished on Thanksgiving with Capt. Warren Girle.

Fishing around Anna Maria Island remains fairly consistent despite a passing cold front before Thanksgiving.

A couple of nights with air temps in the mid-50s had an impact on fishing, although anglers with a little knowledge and a lot of patience are finding a bite.

Using live shiners as bait is working well for fish such as spotted seatrout. Trout seem to be less affected by water temps in the low 60s, which makes them a perfect target during the cooler months to come. I’m finding the bite to be slightly better during afternoon tides when the water has had a chance to warm up a degree or two. Slot and over-slot fish are being taken by fishing live shiners under a cork.

Snook fishing is becoming slightly challenging. I’m seeing plenty of snook, but getting them to bite is a different story. Waiting until late afternoon when the shallow flats are reaching their warmest temps is your best bet. Again, live shiners are the best bait, although a hand-picked shrimp will produce a bite.

Speaking of shrimp, live shrimp cast under residential docks are producing redfish and black drum. I’m using a 1/2-ounce knocker rig with a 2/0 circle hook combined with a live shrimp. This rig is easy to cast with accuracy and keeps the shrimp securely on the bottom, where the reds and black drum are dwelling.

Capt. Warren Girle is working around reefs and hard bottom to put his clients on the bite. Around the reefs, kingfish are readily taking free-lined shiners on a long shank hook. He’s also finding Spanish mackerel in these areas. Bottom fishing around the reefs and over hard bottom is producing mangrove snapper, as well as a few red grouper. Cobia are taking the hook, but the bite is random.

Moving inshore, deeper flats are producing spotted seatrout and bluefish. On the cooler, windy days, Girle uses live shrimp as bait. By using shrimp in canals and under docks, Girle is putting clients on redfish, black drum and a few snook.

Capt. Jason Stock is running offshore to the wrecks and reefs with good results. While using threadfin herring or large shiners as bait, Stock is hooking up gag and red grouper, amberjack and kingfish. For the grouper, a simple fish-finder bottom rig is producing a bite. For the amberjack, free-lined baits are Stock’s preferred method. As for the kings, slow trolling is attracting the most attention.

Hogfish are welcome aboard Stock’s vessel. By dropping live shrimp on a small bottom rig or jig head, Stock’s anglers found hogs in the 5-pound range.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business is working the flats of Anna Maria Sound and various other areas with good results on redfish. Live shiners fished under a cork or free-lined around oyster bars and mangrove shorelines are producing redfish up to 33 inches.

Deeper grass flats are holding spotted seatrout. Gross is using live shiners under a cork to lure these fish to the hook for his anglers. Slot and over-slot fish are being caught.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is fishing the flats of Sarasota Bay with good results on snook. Lowman is finding schools of smaller male snook bunched up on flats adjacent to deeper channels and mangrove edges. Live shiners and even jumbo shrimp are working as bait.

These linesiders are on the feed, which is resulting in some easy fishing for Lowman and his clients.

On nearshore structure, Lowman is finding Spanish mackerel and kingfish accommodating. Mangrove snapper, gag grouper, flounder and a stray cobia are present in these areas. Live shiners or pinfish are Lowman’s bait of choice while working the reefs.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing pier fishers reeling up a variety of good-eating fish. Flounder, sheepshead and redfish — to mention a few — are being taken on live shrimp. Black drum are taking the hook, as well as a few mangrove snapper.

Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and blue runners are present on days when the bait schools are gathering around the pier. Spoons, jigs or Gotcha plugs are all top producers for these migratory species.

November brings variety, bounty of catches to area anglers

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• Geno Lynn of Bradenton shows off a 28-inch redfish he caught on a Nov. 12 charter with Capt. Danny Stasny of Southernaire Fishing Charters.
• Kim and Ken Ferguson of Wisconsin enjoyed a beautiful day fishing Nov. 18 nearshore for kingfish and were lucky enough to also snag two red grouper on the charter. They used shiners for bait on their fishing adventure with Capt. Warren Girle.

With the cooler November weather nipping at our heels, it’s possible to find a number of species on the move, especially in the back country.

Snook are hastily making their way toward their wintertime haunts and, in the process, are voraciously on the feed, fattening up for winter.

On Southernaire charters, I’m finding many schooley-sized fish in the 22- to 26-inch range. Rallies of 20 or more fish in an hour has been the norm. Free-lined live shiners cast over shallow flats and around mangroves during high tides are resulting in this bite.

I’m also seeing trout and redfish being caught intermittently between snook bites. Although keeper snook are proving to be few and far between, the keeper-size redfish and trout are giving visiting anglers a chance to leave the dock triumphantly, a bag of fillets in hand for dinner.

You may want to start carrying not only live shiners in your baitwell, but also some live shrimp. I’m noticing plenty of sheepshead inhabiting the flats, especially around oyster bars. Black drum and redfish are present in these areas and you know how much they love shrimp. Lastly, I’ve seen a few pompano skipping around and what better to hook them but a “shrimp-tipped” jig.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says live shrimp on the hook is producing a variety of species. Casting live shrimp under the pier deck on a weighted rig is resulting in flounder, black drum, redfish and a few early-arrival sheepshead. Other less-desirable fish — lizardfish and pinfish — also take a liking to the tasty little shellfish.

Pier fishers using artificials — such as jigs and spoons —are hooking into jack crevalle, ladyfish and Spanish mackerel. Casting these lures around the edges of the bait schools is attracting a bite and a quick retrieval is resulting in the catch.

Lastly, pier fishers targeting snook are using live pinfish for bait. Again, casting these pinfish around and under the pier is resulting in hookups, although most catches are falling just under the minimum size limit of 28 inches.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business is working the back country of Sarasota Bay. By fishing shallow flats adjacent to channels or mangrove shorelines, Gross is finding rallies of snook. This bite is occurring during the higher points of the tide. Chumming with live shiners followed by a cast of a free-lined shiner into the mix is resulting in multiple hookups. Most catches are falling 20-26 inches. In one morning last week, Gross boasts of catching more than 70 snook.

Redfish are being caught by Gross this week, but not quite so much as the snook. Slot and just-under-slot reds are being caught in the same fashion as the snook. Some catches are being reeled to the boat between snook bites. Others are occurring around oyster bars and docks.

Capt. Jason Stock is fishing nearshore structure with good results. With macks swarming the local reefs, Stock is leading clients to simultaneous hookups and drag-screaming action. Most macks are falling 20-25 inches in length.

Moving to deeper waters, Stock is finding slightly bigger fish — amberjack. Also known as the “reef donkey,” these AJs are running in the 60-pound range. Mix in a few kingfish and cobia and you have a recipe for some unforgettable battles.

Capt. Warren Girle is working nearshore structure and finding rewards on a variety of species. In depths of 20-30 feet, Girle is finding an abundance of macks, mangrove snapper, shark and barracuda. The macks and snapper are being taken via live shiners. As for the ’cuda and sharks, fresh-cut chunks or whole live mackerel are getting the job done.

Moving out a little deeper, Girle is putting clients on numerous kingfish. Long shank hooks combined with a large shiner or threadfin herring is attracting the attention of kings in the 20- to 30-pound range.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is plying the local reefs and wrecks, resulting in some memorable experiences on the water for his clients. Spanish mackerel and kingfish are being caught by free-lining live shiners behind the boat. Chumming heavily is greatly increasing the action on these high-speed fish. Dropping shiners to the bottom is bringing up mangrove snapper, cobia and gag grouper. Lastly, chunks of fresh-cut mackerel are quickly being eaten by blacktip sharks.

Moving inshore, Lowman is cashing in on the “red hot snook bite.” Many schooley and a few slot-size fish are being caught on shallow flats during incoming tides. Redfish are taking shiners in the same areas as the snook. Mangrove shorelines with good tidal movement and turtle grass are top areas to investigate.

Capt. David White of Great White charters says the kingfish bite is solid whether he’s fishing along the beaches or miles offshore. Catching large threadfin herring on a Sabiki rig is White’s method of choice to supply bait for the kings. Free-lining baits or slow-trolling them around structure is resulting in kings up to 20 pounds.

Snook fishing at night is another specialty White has to offer. Using artificials, such as the ever-famous Red Tail Hawk, is getting attention from “big” snook around fender lights under local bridges. If you don’t know what a Red Tail Hawk is, it’s a jig — and it will catch anything.

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

Inshore, nearshore catches are November’s bounty

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Chris Bayne, visiting Anna Maria Island from Georgia, shows off a 20-pound cobia he caught Nov. 4 on a live shiner.
 Bayne and his group — fishing with Capt. Aaron Lowman — also caught and released a handful of amberjack, barracuda and kingfish about 5 miles off the beach. Lowman said they finished up the day on some red hot inshore snook action.

A little taste of fall weather is a welcome signal to the fishing community of Anna Maria Island and surrounding areas.

We’re finally settling in to our fall pattern, which promises some great fishing for both inshore and nearshore anglers alike. Bait is being found in abundance — another good sign. And even better yet — the red tide appears to have abated.

On the flats, I’m experiencing a great snook bite. Rallies of 20-30 snook are not uncommon. Most catches are schooley fish — 20-26 inches — but I’m seeing a keeper once in a while. Mixed in with the snook, I’m finding a lot of rat reds, most running 15-16 inches. There are keeper fish present, too, although I’m not seeing them with the frequency of the smaller fish.

Moving out along the beaches of Anna Maria Island and beyond, I’m seeing a surplus of Spanish mackerel. These fish are a great adversary on light tackle and an enjoyable species to catch. Kingfish also are making a showing. Numerous kings in the 5-10 pound range are being caught with fish up to and exceeding 20-pounds mixed in. That being said, it’s time to get the smoker ready.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is working nearshore structure along the beaches out to about 40 feet of water with good results. Spanish mackerel, kingfish and, most importantly, cobia are being caught on live shiners. According to Lowman, the macks are most abundant in areas where artificial reefs and rock piles are found. The kings and cobia are following suit.

For the inshore bite, Lowman is fishing shallow grass flats where mangrove islands or oyster bars are present. Snook and redfish are both being taken in these scenarios via a live shiner as bait. Spotted seatrout are biting on grass flats, although in deeper water of 4-6 feet. Again, live shiners are the bait of choice.

Capt. Warren Girle is working nearshore structure and finding an abundance of kingfish and mackerel for his clients. Both species are being caught with frequency by free-lining live shiners behind the boat. For the macks, small shiners in the 3-inch range are working best. As for the kingfish, larger shiners in the 5-6 inch range are proving to be perfect. While targeting macks and kings, Girle is hooking into an occasional cobia.

Moving inshore, Sarasota Bay is providing some excellent action on redfish. During low tides, Girle is stalking reds along shallow flats where sandy potholes or “depressions” are found. During these low tides, the redfish take refuge in the pockets of water. This being said, rallies of redfish are coming aboard Girle’s boat.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says fishing is quite good at the northern tip of Anna Maria Island. Pier fishers using live shrimp as bait are catching a wide variety of species, including redfish, black drum, flounder and sheepshead. Live baits such as pinfish and shiners are producing a bite. Numerous snook are being caught on either bait.

Pier fishers electing to use lures are grabbing for Gotcha plugs or small jigs. Results from their choice include Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, blue runners and jack crevalle.

Capt. Jason Stock is taking clients offshore for kingfish, mackerel and cobia. For the kings, slow trolling large baits —threadfin herring, blue runners or large shiners — is attracting a bite. The macks and cobia are being taken while at anchor. Free-lining smaller size live shiners is attracting both species to the boat.

Tripletail are being caught on the Stock charters. Live shiners or shrimp under a popping cork or just free-lined around floating debris are quickly eaten by these mysterious-looking fish.

Capt. David White of Great White charters says the Spanish mack action is “crazy right now.” Free-lined live shiners on a longshank hook are a sure thing when trying to catch macks and kingfish are being caught on larger baits, such as threadfin herring. When fishing around structure White is finding gag grouper while trolling lipped plugs around the reef. Pinfish or shiners dropped to the bottom while at anchor can also produce a bite on gags. Lastly, cobia are being taken in the same areas as the gag grouper. Bottom rigs with live pinfish attached and sent down to the reef are being devoured.

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

October bite shows up late — in early November

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Capt. Warren Girle took advantage of a gap in his charter schedule for a busman’s holiday Oct. 30 — and he wrangled two nice gag grouper on shiners while fishing offshore in about 30-35 feet of water.

The first week of November was showing potential for some great fishing in our local waters.

It seems the typically long-awaited October bite is happening this month. Better late than never, I guess.

During my Southernaire Fishing charters, I’m experiencing rallies of schooley snook. These 18- to 26-inch fish are in abundance and on the feed. On a recent charter with Geno Lynn of Bradenton, we sat and caught more than two dozen snook in an area no more than 100 yards long. And mixed in with the snook were plenty of rat reds — and even a couple of slot-size reds. This type of bite is a sure-fire indicator that these fish are fattening up in preparation for winter.

Along the beaches, Spanish mackerel can be found in depths as shallow as 10 feet and out from there. Rock piles and artificial reefs are hot spots for these toothy predators, so you may want to start your search in these areas. You may find some kingfish as well as a stray cobia. Also, blacktip and spinner sharks will be present in areas where large schools of macks exist.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is fishing the flats of southern Tampa Bay for snook. With the fall migration underway, there is ample opportunity for Lowman’s clients to get some linesider action. Lowman says rallies of schooley-size snook are occurring during morning tides and live shiners are attracting the bite. Keeper-size snook also are being caught, although not as frequently as the under-slot fish. While targeting snook, Lowman is finding a good number of redfish in the mix.

Along the beaches of Anna Maria Island, Lowman is prowling for Spanish mackerel. Free-lining live shiners on a long shank hook is resulting in macks up to 22 inches. While targeting the mack bite, Lowman is running across an occasional kingfish and cobia.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing an influx of out-of-state anglers ready to try their luck at fishing. Pier fishers using live shrimp are finding success on a variety of species, including black drum, mangrove snapper and sheepshead and, randomly, some tasty flounder.

Using artificials such as jigs and spoons are attracting migratory fish — macks, jack crevalle and ladyfish. A live shiner free-lined on a long shank hook also is achieving good results.

Capt. Warren Girle is working the flats of Sarasota Bay. During flood tides or extremely high tides, Girle is quietly moving his way up on shallow grass flats in search of redfish. Schooling reds are being found, resulting in multiple hookups on slot-size fish. Snook also are being found in these areas, with most falling 20-26 inches.

Moving into the Gulf of Mexico, Girle is putting clients on schools of Spanish mackerel around rock piles and reefs. Mixed in with the macks are kingfish and an occasional cobia. Mangrove snapper also are taking the hook for Girle while working around structure.

Capt. David White of Great White Charters is fishing offshore structure for a variety of species. By free-lining baits on the surface, White is putting clients on the usual trio of mackerel, kingfish and amberjack. He’s finding the cobia are occasionally willing to take a bait.

Bottom fishing around the reefs is producing mangrove snapper and gag grouper. Both are being taken on live baits — shiners or pinfish — combined with a bottom rig.

Capt. Jason Stock reports working offshore and nearshore structure with good results. By slow trolling large baits — threadfin herring or blue runners — Stock is putting the hammer on the kingfish bite. Catches up to 20 pounds are the norm. Stock says cobia are present on the local reefs his charters are catching their share. Finally, following up his recent sailfish catch, Stock reports another sailfish came to the surface to examine his bait.

Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to  HYPERLINK “mailto:fish@islander.org” fish@islander.org.


State extends red snapper season in Gulf waters

The recreational red snapper season in Gulf state waters was extended seven days in November, including Nov. 11-12, for the Veterans Day holiday, and Nov. 25-27, for Thanksgiving weekend.

The Nov. 26 date also is a saltwater license-free fishing day.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission expanded red snapper season as a measure to offset the economic effects of Hurricane Hermine, which hit the Gulf Coast of Florida in early September, according to a news release.

Recreational fishing in Gulf waters adds $7.6 billion annually to Florida’s economy.

To learn more about red snapper, visit myfwc.com/fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Snappers.”

Fishing – 11-02-2016

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Capt. Jason Stock shows off a nice sailfish he caught Oct. 27 while slow-trolling for kingfish. He estimated the weight at 80-100 pounds.

Persistence, faith and a little luck key to hooking up


With winds persistently blowing 10-20 mph for what seems like an eternity, fishing around Anna Maria Island still manages to put smiles on the faces of fishers — especially the visiting anglers.

Whether fishing the flats in the local bays and Intracoastal Waterway or in the Gulf of Mexico, a bite exists. Other factors, such as red tide, exist, but the bite endures.

Persistence, faith in your angling skills and a little luck all play a role in your angling experience. I’m finding many instances where I’m catching rallies of fish in an area only to discover there’s no bite the next day in the same spot. This tells me the fish are on the move. That famous line always comes to me — you should have been here yesterday. Well, that’s where the persistence pays off. Keep looking.

Then there are days when the fish are present but it’s as if they’re laughing at me — they won’t bite. Then, suddenly, they turn on. Maybe a change in tide, the wind laying down or even a pressure change triggers this. This is where the faith in angling skills comes into play. You know you’re fishing correctly, but the fish determine the outcome.

Lastly, a little good old-fashioned luck is welcome. I don’t know how many times the bite has been tough and toward the end of the trip, clients hook a trophy fish or the species they hoped to catch. That’s when the captain can climb down from the tower, knowing he or she can show face proudly.

Ultimately, fishing is good. I’m fishing in areas where mangroves are sheltering me from the wind. Rallies of schooley snook are occurring during morning incoming tides. Chumming with live shiners is helping the bite. Seeing and hearing snook boiling on chummers is music to my ears. And on recent trips, it’s been like a symphony. Keeper-size snook are hard to come by, but lucky anglers are getting one here and there.

Around structure in Tampa Bay and out in the Gulf, I’m finding good action on Spanish mackerel. These macks are big, too, with some measuring 26 inches to the fork. Long shank hooks combined with medium- to small-size shiners are being sliced and diced by the razor-sharp teeth of the mackerel. Rod-bending, drag-screaming runs bring clients an air of excitement on these high-speed fish.

Lastly, there’s a pile of buoys out there marking the traps that catch the tastiest of crabs — the stone crab. It’s time to visit the Cortez markets for a few pounds of claws and a feast.

Capt. Jason Stock is working near- and offshore in search of big game. With a sudden drop in water temperatures, kingfish, amberjack and even sailfish are making a showing just off the coast.

According to Stock, there is an abundance of bait offshore — ballyhoo, threadfin herring and blue runners — attracting predators. Kingfish in the 20-pound range are being taken by free-lining live shiners or by slow-trolling larger baits such as a blue runner. The same procedure applies for amberjack.

The highlight of the week for Stock occurred while trolling just offshore. According to Stock, the kingfish bite was consistent. Seas were ranging 2-3 feet, favorable for hunting kingfish, when Stock hooked a sailfish of 80-100 pounds. When the fish hit, Stock says he was pretty sure it was too big to be a king. The thought of it being a shark crossed his mind. Then the fish broke water, confirming a sailfish on the line. After a lengthy battle, Stock persuaded the fish to the side of the boat where it could be dehooked, posed for a quick picture and released.

Capt. Warren Girle is working nearshore when winds are light for kingfish, macks and mangrove snapper. For the kings and macks, Girle is anchoring around structure and chumming live shiners to get the fish on the surface. Once the frenzy begins, Girle is casting free-lined live shiners on long shank hooks into the feeding fish. For the snapper, knocker rigs baited with small live shiners and sent to the bottom are producing a bite.

Moving inshore, Girle is catching “tournament” redfish on the flats during the beginnings of the outgoing tide. “Tournament” redfish measures close to the 27-inch maximum size. This term also boasts that the fish is most likely a fat one —worthy of a contender.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is reporting a variety of species coming to the hook. Despite a string of windy days, pier fishers are reeling up small redfish, black drum, mangrove snapper and a few sheepshead. Live shrimp is the bait of choice. A shrimp and a bottom rig cast under the pier will attract a bite.

Spanish mackerel and ladyfish are being taken by pier anglers casting small jigs. Other species being caught on the jig include jack crevalle, blue runners and even a permit. Favorite colors of the jigs include white, chartreuse and hot pink.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is targeting snook throughout the waters surrounding the island. Whether working flats, mangrove islands, oyster bars or docks, snook are turning up. According to Lowman, “plenty of live chum makes snook fishing more productive.”

Lowman is pitching handfuls of live shiners into a prospective area, which gets the snook in a feeding mood and tricks them into giving up their location by breaking the water to feed. Fishing in this manner is resulting in many schooley-size snook, as well as a few breeders.

Macks are making a showing along the beaches of and Lowman is cashing in here, too. Schools are being found around nearshore structure and where bait schools are present and macks in the 22-inch range are taking the bait combined with a long shank hook seconds after the cast.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is catching numerous snook along the shorelines south of the Sunshine State Skyway Bridge to the mouth of the Manatee River. Schooley-sized snook up to 26 inches are being caught with regularity on shallow grass flats where clean water exists. Some slot-size fish are being found as well, but the bite improves in slightly deeper areas, farther from the masses of smaller snook.

Spotted seatrout are being caught as they take up residence in the Manatee River. Rallies of slot fish are being caught some days, while other days are producing a lot of 14-inchers. Small live shiners under a cork or free-lined are the top producers as bait.

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

As wind dies, waters clear, fishing turns ‘hit or miss’

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Lou Sanandres and grandson Sebastian, 9, show off a 28-inch gag grouper caught offshore using shiners for bait in 40 feet of water while on a family fishing trip guided by Capt. Warren Girle.

With an influx of red tide and windy days, fishing around Anna Maria Island could be termed “hit or miss.”

On calmer days, venturing out into the Gulf of Mexico can be satisfying for anglers in search of a bent rod. Good action on Spanish mackerel and kingfish can be found around nearshore and offshore structures. You may also come across a cobia or two if you’re lucky. And with all those stone crab traps out there attracting attention below the surface, it’s not a bad idea to keep your eyes peeled for a triple tail.

Inshore fishing is following the same suit. Avoiding the patches of red tide is leading anglers to the flats of Sarasota Bay all the way north of Rattlesnake Key in Tampa Bay to Miguel Bay. Snook are abundant in areas where the water is free of red tide and redfish are found intermingling with the snook.

Finally, deeper grass flats are host to a variety of fish, including spotted seatrout, ladyfish, mackerel and jack crevalle. Free-lining live shiners in these areas can be exciting because you never know what’s going to hit your bait. Again, this bite is occurring in waters free of red tide.

Capt. Warren Girle is working nearshore ledges on days when winds are light and the seas are calm. By anchoring and chumming, Girle is attracting migratory fish — king and Spanish macks — to the boat. Blacktip and spinner sharks are being lured in by all the commotion caused by the macks. By free-lining live shiners on a long shank hook, Girle’s clients are hooking into these macks, with some of the kings exceeding 20-pounds.

Moving inshore, Girle’s clients are catching a multitude of trout on deep grass flats during moving tides. Live shiners fished under a cork are producing a bite. Slot-size trout are being caught with some regularity, although many under-slot fish are mixed in.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is snook fishing throughout the shallow waters of southern Tampa Bay. Top spots for Lowman include mangrove islands where the magic combination of turtle grass and good current are present. The combination of this environment and a live shiner on a 2/0 hook is the perfect recipe for some fine snook fishing, according to Lowman. Most catches are falling just under 24 inches but, every so often, fish up to 40 inches are taking the hook.

Redfish — although somewhat spread out — also are coming to the boat for Lowman’s clients. Fishing docks with live pinfish combined with a split shot and a 3/0 hook are attracting bites. Casting these baits directly under Lowman’s select docks is resulting in slot-size reds for his clients.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing good numbers of snook congregating under the pier. Pier fishers using live pinfish, shiners or ladyfish are every so often enticing one of these linesiders to bite. Smaller fish — 20-24 inches — are much more common than the slot and over-slot fish.

Pier fishers using R&R select shrimp are catching their limits of black drum. Drum, the most predominant species this week, are being taken by casting a weighted shrimp under the pier to rest on the bottom. Black drum up to 24 inches are being hooked in this fashion. Mixed in with the drum are redfish, flounder, mangrove snapper and sheepies.

Capt. Jason Stock is running out to nearshore and offshore structures for a variety of species. Nearshore structure in depths of 25-45 feet of water are producing numerous Spanish mackerel, kingfish and spinner sharks. Fishing offshore structure is proving even better with cobia and amberjack being caught. For all of these species, Stock is carrying a wide assortment of live baits, including scaled sardines, threadfin herring, pinfish and cigar minnows.

Capt. David White of Great White charters is doing a little trolling for grouper around some of the nearshore reefs. His favorite plug — the Mann’s Stretch 25 — is proving productive for some keeper-size gag grouper, as well as some smaller ones, too.

Fishing the nearshore reefs with live bait is producing good action for White’s charters. Free-lining shiners is resulting in Spanish mackerel and a few kings. Switching to a knocker rig and a shiner is adding to the variety by enticing mangrove snapper, gag grouper and an occasional cobia to the boat.

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.