Tag Archives: fishing

Fishing – 06-15-2016

Tropical Storm Colin dampens fishing, but only short-term

 

In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Colin, which blew past Anna Maria Island in the Gulf of Mexico June 6, fishers are managing to hook up with some fish. I’m not saying the fishing is as good as normal, but having a successful day on the water is attainable.

The action is improving daily as the water settles and the calendar heads into summer.

Fishing inshore on the flats might be tough for a few more days this week due to the water being stirred up from currents, wind and rain. You may find your favorite spots aren’t producing like they normally do. Well, give the water some time to clean itself up and settle and you should notice the fish falling into their summertime patterns.

If patience isn’t your thing, consider a move from the flats into the Gulf of Mexico. Cleaner, clearer water is present in the Gulf, where mangrove snapper and grouper can be targeted and what’s wrong with that? You’ll probably come across some Spanish mackerel, sharks and, if you’re lucky, a cobia or two.

So, rather than cancel your weekend of fishing to stay home and do chores, try venturing out to the reefs and wrecks for some “reel” action.

Capt. Warren Girle is fishing nearshore and offshore structure for mangrove snapper. Quality fish in the 20-inch range are being caught on free-lined pieces of fresh-cut shiners. While targeting snapper, Girle’s putting his clients on Spanish mackerel, gag grouper and an occasional cobia.

Moving to the flats, Girle is catching his share of spotted seatrout. Slot-size fish 15-20 inches are readily taking live shiners for bait. While targeting trout, Girle is hooking up macks, bluefish and jack crevalle.

Also, tarpon — although a little more scarce than the past few weeks — are being caught via live crabs or live threadfin herring. Fish 80-200 pounds are jumping the hook.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is working inshore and nearshore reefs and rock piles with good results. Mangrove snapper and gag grouper are taking shiners combined with a bottom rig. Spanish mackerel and cobia are being taken by his clients in the same areas — only on free-lined shiners instead of weighted ones. Some hungry sharks are lurking around nearshore structure, providing great action for those willing to toss a bait. Spinner and blacktip sharks are the most abundant.

Finally, spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook are steadily biting during moving tides. Free-lined live shiners are a sure bet for both species.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and jack crevalle are making frequent stops by the pier to harass the schools of hatch bait. Pier fishers using small jigs, spoons and Gotcha plugs are finding success with all three species.

Pier fishers baiting with live shrimp are reeling in variety — most common are mangrove snapper and black drum — along with flounder and an occasional catch-and-release snook.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is working the flats of southern Tampa Bay and throughout Terra Ceia Bay with good results.

He’s setting up his anglers with live shiners to attract attention to the hook from catch-and-release snook. Shallow areas where oyster bars are present are holding good numbers of fish — most 20-30 inches in length — to target.

Spotted seatrout are being found on 6- to 8-foot-deep grass flats. Live shiners as bait are attracting slot and over-slot trout to the hook and, mixed in are bluefish and macks.

Also, inshore rock piles and docks are good for mangrove snapper and flounder. Keeper-sizes of both species are being caught during slower moving tides. Live shiners combined with a split shot are proving effective.

Last but not least, Capt. Jason Stock is having an exceptional week on the water. While working offshore, Stock is catching some of the best of the best —cobia, tripletail, permit and hefty mangrove snapper.

For the trips and permit, Stock is sight-casting live baits to the fish — crabs for the permit, whitebait for the tripletail. For the cobia, Stock is setting up anglers with artificials like the Hogy Lure. Lastly, for the snapper, free-lined shiners — whole or fresh-cut into chunks — are resulting in fish up to 22 inches.

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

 

Fishing – 06-08-2016

Variety, silver king persistence keep local anglers busy

 

Tarpon fishing remains the main attraction for yet another week on Anna Maria Island. Anglers from Tampa to Boca Grande — and beyond — are flocking to our little island to get a taste of what our local waters have to offer.

Some say the tarpon fishing here is better than anywhere on the Gulf coast. And by the numbers of boats I’m seeing out there, maybe that’s the case.

The fish are finally dispersing from the passes to roam the beaches and roll in the surf of Anna Maria Island, Egmont and Longboat Key. Live crabs and threadfin herring as bait are top producers, although large shiners, pinfish and menhaden, also known as “shad,” are attracting a bite.

For those choosing to fish the backcountry, spotted seatrout are putting up the most consistent bite. Live shiners, free-lined or under a cork, are producing good action during morning incoming tides. Deep grass areas of 6-8 foot depth are a good place to start.

On my own Southernaire charters, I’m flip-flopping between tarpon and backwater trips. Both are productive, with fish being caught consistently. For the tarpon, I’m working pre-dawn until about 10 a.m., which seems to be a good plan. Casting live crabs into schooling fish is producing multiple hookups, especially before sunrise.

As for the backwater trips, spotted seatrout are taking baits on the flats of Sarasota Bay. Limits of fish are attainable, which is great for clients who like to take a fish or two home for dinner. Plus, while targeting trout, we’re catching Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and bluefish, adding a nice variety to the bite.

Capt. Warren Girle also is seeing success, jumping tarpon along the beaches and passes of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. Live crabs cast into schooling tarpon are resulting in multiple hookups during the hour just before and after sunrise. Once the sun is up, Girle is switching to threadfin herring — live or dead — to attract a bite. Fish up to 150 pounds are being caught.

Moving to the flats of Sarasota Bay, Girle is finding limits of spotted seatrout. Mixed in with the trout bite are macks, ladyfish and jack crevalle. Free-lined live shiners as bait are top producers for Girle.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is targeting tarpon in southern Tampa Bay, as well as along the beaches and passes, and is finding good numbers biting the hook. On that hook, Lowman is baiting up with live crabs or threadfin herring. Both baits are producing catches in the 100-150 pound range.

While working in Tampa Bay at the northern tip of Anna Maria, Lowman watched a large hammerhead chase a tarpon on the beach. He got some great photos while managing to head off the hammerhead and give the tarpon room to scoot away — for the moment.

Moving inshore, Spanish mackerel, spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook are on the menu for Lowman. For the macks and trout, Lowman is working on grass beds with 5-10 feet of water. For the snook, shallow grass flats adjacent to mangrove shorelines are producing good action.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says with the arrival of bait schools, fishing is better by the minute. The schools of hatch bait are attracting the usual trio of suspects: Spanish mack, ladyfish and jack crevalle. Snook are cashing in on the abundance of bait, gorging themselves in preparation for their spawn.

Pier fishers using shrimp as bait are catching a variety of other species, including black drum, mangrove snapper and flounder. All three species are welcome sights to hungry anglers with hopes of a “fresh” fish dinner.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is following tarpon along the beaches and passes of Tampa Bay south to Sarasota Bay. He’s finding schooling tarpon during early morning incoming tides, and live crabs of threadfin herring for bait are attracting bites from fish 100-150 pounds.

In the backcountry, Gross is catching respectable numbers of catch-and-release snook. Live, free-lined shiners cast around mangrove shorelines and lush grass flats where tidal current exists are producing rallies of snook, sometimes exceeding 25 fish in one spot.

Capt. Jason Stock is on the hunt for tarpon, patrolling the beaches and passes and finding ample numbers of the silverking biting the hook for his clients. Live crabs or threadfin herring are producing hookups and most catches are averaging 100 pounds, although fish exceeding 160 pounds are not uncommon.

Moving offshore, Stock is keeping clients busy on gag grouper. Keeper-size fish are being reeled up with regularity. While targeting gags, Stock also is putting red grouper and mangrove snapper in the cooler.

Finally, fishing offshore wrecks with live crabs is resulting in permit in the 15-pound range.

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

Fishing – 06-01-2016

Tarpon remain in the spotlight, other species attainable

 

Tarpon remain in the spotlight for yet another week for fishers near Anna Maria Island.

Talk of Bean Point resembling the famous Boca Grande Pass is becoming commonplace among fishers in the area. The numbers of boats present during the morning tarpon bite is the reason. Seeing 50 or more boats this time of year is common.

Also, some of the best tarpon fishing on the Gulf Coast is occurring from the channel near Egmont Key south to New Pass and Longboat Key. Tarpon along the beaches and passes are ranging 80-150 pounds, with reports of larger fix mixed in. Preferred baits are live crabs, threadfin herring or shiners.

On my Southernaire fishing trips, clients are tackling their share of tarpon. The bite from just before sunrise until about 8 a.m. is producing the most action. Live crabs cast to rolling fish are quickly being inhaled. Most of the fish I see coming to the boat are about 100 pounds.

Meanwhile fishing the flats is proving prosperous for table fare and for sport, especially due to the fact most everyone is out trying to catch tarpon along the beaches. The outer flats from Miguel Bay south to Rattlesnake Key are producing good numbers of slot-size spotted seatrout. Mixed in with the trout bite are jack crevalle and bluefish — being taken on free-lined live shiners.

Also, catch-and-release snook fishing is productive. Again, I think less pressure due to everyone tarpon fishing is a factor. Many snook in the 20-26 inch range are being caught during morning and afternoon tides. Slot fish are mixed in, but not with the regularity.

On a final note, gag grouper season opens June 1 and a new size limit is effective the same day. The black grouper and gag minimum size limit will increase from 22-24 inches in Gulf state waters, to match changes in federal waters.

According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the gag grouper recreational season will be June 1-Dec. 31 in all state Gulf waters excluding Franklin, Wakulla, Taylor and Jefferson counties — which have their own season April 1-June 30 — and excluding Monroe County — Monroe County follows the Atlantic state season.

Capt. Warren Girle is targeting tarpon along the beaches of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. Live crabs are Girle’s bait of choice during the sunrise bite. This bite is occurring 5:30-8:30 a.m. Once the sun gets higher, Girle is anchoring and chumming with threadfin herring. Cruising the beaches and casting live threadfin herring into schooling fish is producing the bite. Average sizes are 75-150 pounds, reports Girle.

On days when he’s not tarpon fishing, Girle is working the flats of Sarasota Bay. On deeper grass flats, Girle is catching plenty of slot-size spotted seatrout. On shallow flats, the snook bite remains consistent. Both species are being taken with live shiners as bait, although the snook are release-only.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is fishing tarpon along the beaches and passes from Egmont Key south to Longboat Key. Live crabs or threadfin herring as bait are producing multiple hookups on morning and afternoon tarpon excursions. Average sizes are 80-120 pounds.

In the backcountry, Lowman is finding snook fishing productive around the mangroves. Live free-lined shiners cast under the bushes are being ambushed by snook in the 20- to 26-inch range.

Finally, deeper grass flats in Tampa Bay are host to a number of species that Lowman refers to as “rod benders.” These fish include jack crevalle, ladyfish and Spanish mackerel. All are being taken on live shiners.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says fishers there are catching a “mixed bag.” Using artificials, such as silver spoons or small white jigs, they’re hooking an occasional Spanish mackerel, as well as jack crevalle, ladyfish and bluefish. All of these species are found when bait schools are present around the pier.

Pier fishers using live shrimp as bait are reeling up a number of species — mangrove snapper, flounder and black drum. Using a bottom rig to keep the bait on the bottom is key in catching these fish. Also, casting up under the pier among the pilings, where these fish are feeding increasing the odds.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters also is on the hunt for tarpon during early morning outgoing tides. Patrolling the beaches and passes from Egmont Key to Longboat Key is producing catches in the 100-pound range, with bigger fish mixed in. Live crabs or threadfin herring as bait are attracting a bite.

While fishing deep grass flats in Tampa Bay, Gross is catching a variety of species. Spotted seatrout — the targeted species — are being reeled up in abundance. Limits are attainable and in the mix are macks, jacks and bluefish.

Also, catch-and-release snook are red-hot for Gross. Free-lined shiners as bait are producing rallies of snook in the 20-28-inch range, with larger fish mixed in.

Capt. Jason Stock is working the morning sunrise in pursuit of tarpon. During this bite, live crabs are Stock’s preferred bait. As the day wears on, Stock is using a variety of baits, including crabs, threadfin herring and large shiners. Tarpon in the 100-pound range are the norm for Stock.

While working offshore, Stock is putting clients on amberjack and grouper. Both species are being taken on live shiners and pinfish. Mangrove snapper are included in the offshore bite.

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

Fishing – 05-25-2016

The cure for tarpon fever? Go out and get one

 

The tarpon fever epidemic is rapidly spreading throughout the small barrier island on the south side of Tampa Bay.

Anna Maria Island anglers, as well as fishers from around the world, are experiencing sleepless nights due to the intoxicating anticipation of doing battle with the elusive silver king.

Other symptoms of “tarponitis” include spending vast amounts of money on the proper tackle and ample amounts of bait and, then for some, calling into work “sick” because the bite is on. Also, sunstroke and fatigue result, due to endless hours of patrolling the waters in search of fish. It’s very common.

And forget about those weekend family outings for the next two months, that is, unless the family is going tarpon fishing, too.

Yeah, I guess tarpon just have that effect on people. Think about seeing a 7-foot-long fish come skyrocketing out of the water with its head shaking frantically to spit the hook. Then landing in a huge splash and dumping your spool before you even knew what happened. Sound appealing? You betcha.

I must warn you, however, that tarpon fishing requires some physical endurance. If your workout program mainly consists of 12-ounce curls, you may find yourself second-guessing your choice of targeted species after an hour behind the reel. But, if you’re lucky enough to land the fish, the memory will be forever fixed in your mind. That’s where it all starts. You’ve been exposed and infected with the epidemic known as “tarponitis.” You’re hooked.

On my Southernaire charters, the clients are ailing from tarpon fever. The early morning bite just prior to sunrise is producing the best action for my clients. Multiple hookups are occurring before dawn on live crabs cast directly into the schooling fish. As the sun rises and the abundance of boats becomes unbearable, I’m cruising the beaches in search of “less stressed” fish. Casting crabs or threadfin herring to these fish is resulting in a hook up or two.

For those lacking tarpon fever, the backcountry is still producing plenty of catch-and-release snook. Rallies of 20 fish or more are occurring during the maximum flow of the incoming tide. Live shiners are a favorite for bait.

The same applies for spotted seatrout. Deep grass flats are host to numerous trout, as well as Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and bluefish. This spring scenario is great for visitors who want action, but also want a few trout for a meal.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is working the beaches and passes of Anna Mara Island for tarpon. Live crabs and threadfin herring as bait are producing bites. He reports the average size of tarpon this week is in the 50-100 pound range.

On the nearshore reefs, Lowman is finding mangrove snapper accommodating to his clients, as well as Spanish mackerel and a few kingfish. For these species, Lowman is putting live shiners on the hook and chumming is improving the bite.

Finally, on the flats, Lowman is putting his anglers on spotted seatrout in depths of 6-8 feet. Mixed in with the dinner trout are macks, bluefish and jack crevalle — fun to catch but nothing for the cooler.

Capt. Warren Girle is stalking tarpon, too. Live crabs are producing the greatest number of bites, although threadfin herring also work well. He reports most hookups are falling are 80-120 pounds, with larger fish occasionally mixed in.

Moving to the flats of Sarasota Bay, Girle’s clients are catching numerous spotted seatrout. On deeper grass flats, Girle is free-lining live shiners to attract a bite. He’s not only attracting trout, but also mackerel, ladyfish, jack crevalle and bluefish.

On calm days, Girle is venturing offshore, where mangrove snapper and catch-and-release gag grouper are dominating the bite. In this situation, bottom fishing with live shiners for bait is optimum.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is taking advantage of the less crowded backwater fishing now that so many anglers are fishing for tarpon in Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

He’s finding catch-and-release snook fishing on shallow flats adjacent to mangrove edges to be exceptional. Live shiners cast under the bushes are readily being taken by snook in the 20-30 inch range. Hookups with 25-50 snook are not uncommon aboard the Fishy Business.

On deep grass flats with depths of 8-10 feet, Gross is finding plenty of spotted seatrout. Slot-size trout are voraciously taking free-lined live shiners. This bite is occurring during morning incoming tides. Due to the clear water conditions, Gross recommends leader sizes exceeding no more than 20-pound test.

Finally, redfish are being caught around oyster bars in the backwater on outgoing tides. Live shiners cast around the bars into sandy potholes are producing catches up to 26 inches.

Capt. Jason Stock also is targeting tarpon along the beaches and passes around Anna Maria Island. By using live crabs or threadfin herring, Stock is managing to keep his clients hooked up on silver kings in the 80-100 pound class.

Moving offshore, Stock is finding amberjack and large grouper around wrecks and reefs, where live shiners, pinfish and cigar minnows are producing a bite.

Also while offshore, Stock warns his clients to keep their eyes peeled for whale sharks. Having spotted one recently, he explains how exciting it is to see such a large animal approach the boat. Whale sharks aren’t common here, so this is a rare treat.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says he’s not seeing a predominant species being caught this week, but a variety of fish are keeping rods bent.

Pier fishers using artificials — small jigs or silver spoons — are hooking into Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, ladyfish and skipjacks. These fish are being taken during morning incoming tides, especially when schools of baitfish are present.

Fishers using shrimp for bait are bottom fishing under the pier to find success. Flounder, black drum and mangrove snapper are the usual suspects.

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

Fishing – 05-18-2016

The return of the king — tarpons hook up in local waters

 

Anna Maria fishing is host to a shiny new arrival this week.

That’s right. The silver kings have returned. Although the quantity of fish is still building, small groups of tarpon are running along the beaches, as well as in the passes from Egmont Key to New Pass.

On Southernaire charters, I’m finding success with tarpon in the 80-120 pound range. Most are being taken on pass crabs, although threadfin herring is bringing a bite, too.

For me, the early morning bite is producing the best action. After 9 a.m., the kings are finicky. As this occurs, I’m migrating up and down the beaches of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key to find schools of happy fish. And by happy, I mean undisturbed. These fish tend to bite a better than the ones in the passes that are constantly seeing boats running over them.

On days when non-tarpon anglers are on the boat, I’m working the flats of Anna Maria Sound and southern Tampa Bay for catch-and-release snook. Live shiners are attracting a bite during morning tides from linesiders in the 20-36 inch range. On lower tides, I’m fishing outside edges of the flat. As the tide comes in, we move closer to the bushes where we frequently find snook lounging in the shade.

Other fish producing action this week include spotted seatrout and limits of mangrove snapper. Deeper grass flats where a slight current is present are home to numerous 12-24 inch spotted seatrout. As for the snapper, artificial reefs and rock piles in depths of 20-30 feet are producing limits of fish 12-18 inches.

Capt. Warren Girle is fishing the flats of Sarasota Bay with good results. Catch-and-release snook are providing great action for Girle’s clients, who are finding rallies of fish in the 20-30 inch range common when using live shiners as bait. Redfish and spotted seatrout also are being taken on live shiners.

Fishing offshore is still producing good numbers of mangrove snapper for Girle. Dropping live shiners to the bottom around ledges and reefs is resulting in mangoes up to 18 inches in length, as well as numerous gag and red grouper. Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle and an occasional cobia are being found by Girle while fishing offshore.

Finally, tarpon are showing for Girle and he’s hot on their trail. Live pass crabs free-lined to cruising fish are being inhaled. Tarpon in the 50-100 pound range are the average.

Capt. Jason Stock is running for big fish offshore, where in depths around 100 feet, he’s putting clients on amberjack in the 20-30 pound range. In shallower depths of 40-60 feet, Stock’s anglers are reeling up limits of mangrove snapper, as well as red grouper and catch-and-release gags. Goliath grouper are present at these depths and Stock likes to hoist a few up next to the boat for a quick photo before the release. Finally, Stock reports permit are being taken on live crabs around wrecks and reefs.

Moving inshore, Stock is on patrol along the beaches and passes in search of tarpon. Tarpon in the 75- to 100-pound range are being hooked on live pass crabs and live threadfins.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing a morning mackerel bite when schooling baitfish are present in Tampa Bay Small jigs in pink or white also work to produce a bite. Mixed in with the mackerel are ladyfish and jack crevalle.

Pier fishers using live shrimp as bait are catching mangrove snapper and a few flounder. Live baits such as shiners or pinfish are attracting attention from catch-and-release snook from 20-28 inches.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is working the flats of Terra Ceia and Miguel bays for redfish, spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook. The trio is taking shiners, either free-lined or fished under a Cajun Thunder popping cork. Limits of spotted seatrout are being taken with ease. As for the redfish, a little persistence is paying off. And, Gross says, rallies of catch-and-release snook are occurring during incoming tides around mangrove shorelines.

Mangrove snapper are rounding out the bite for Gross and his anglers. After rallying on the flats, he’s moving out to deeper water, around reefs and wrecks, where he’s finding plenty of snapper in the 12-16 inch range — all taken with live shiners as bait.

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

 

Fishing – 05-11-2016

Snook — out of season but good catch-and-release sportfish

 

Snook season has come to an end, but catch-and-release action on linesiders remains better than average.

Many snook ranging 20-26 inches are being caught along mangrove shorelines, especially under the bushes during extreme high tide.

Larger fish are mixed in with this bite, although most slot and over-slot fish seem to be staked out in waters slightly deeper.

Live shiners as bait are producing the most consistent action, although pinfish and Spanish sardines are taking fish.

I’m finding early and late stages of the outgoing tides are producing the greatest number of hookups.

Spotted seatrout are present on deeper grass flats — especially in Sarasota Bay.

Fishing deep grass beds north and south of Long Bar are producing limits of slot fish for determined anglers.

Fishing along the Gulf beaches is proving prosperous for those seeking trout. Just remember, the fish are on the spawn, so let those big females go after you get a picture.

On my client’s adventures with Southernaire Fishing Charters, there’s plenty of catch-and-release snook fishing.

Finding new fish to target adds a challenge to the equation. It seems after you fish the same area for snook for a couple of days, the linesiders become wary of hitting a bait, but this can challenge you to search out a new target.

What’s even better is, while on the search, you might stumble upon a newer, bigger batch of snook.

Since it’s May, I’ve been on the lookout for tarpon, although I haven’t seen large numbers of fish.

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge bite seems a little off for this time of year. Also, the dolphins are wreaking havoc on the tarpon fishers, making it challenging to get a bite. There are some small groups of fish along the beach and the same can be said for the flats of Sarasota Bay and southern Tampa Bay.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is finding success with live bait in south Tampa Bay.

With unusually high tides occurring during morning hours, Gross is finding snook along the mangrove edges. Casting free-lined live shiners under the mangrove branches is producing action on many 26-28-inch snook. Although snook are now catch-and-release, Gross’ clients are smiling ear to ear after finishing up a rally of snook.

When looking for fish worthy of taking home for dinner, Gross is targeting redfish. These reds are inhabiting the same areas as the snook and, typically, redfish bites occur while targeting snook. Again, free-lined live shiners are the bait of choice. Slot-size reds are finding their way to the cooler to later be filleted.

Finally, spotted seatrout are rounding out the day for Gross. Deeper grass beds in 4-6 feet of water are producing numbers of slot-size trout. Limits are attainable with a little persistence and changing location.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is fishing nearshore structure when the winds are light and the seas calm. On these occasions, Lowman is finding the reef fishing to be bountiful. Limits of mangrove snapper are being reeled up, as well as catch-and-release gag grouper. King and Spanish mackerel also are present around the reefs, which makes for some great light tackle action.

Moving inshore, Lowman is finding redfish around docks and in the canals and along seawalls. Casting live shiners under docks is producing slot-size reds, as well as a few flounder. Determination is key as some docks may only be holding a couple of reds.

Capt. Warren Girle is working offshore when the weather and winds permit. In depths of 40-50 feet of water, Girle is finding a variety of species, including mangrove snapper, catch-and-release gag grouper, kingfish and cobia. All of these species are being taken on live shiners or pinfish. Limits of mangrove snapper are being caught daily, which makes them the most prevalent on the reefs.

Moving inshore, Girle is finding snook, redfish and trout in Sarasota Bay. Catch-and-release snook are being accommodating with some rallies producing more than 20 fish. The same applies for the trout. Limits of these tasty fish are being found in 6-8 feet of water on the grass flats. Mixed in with the trout are Spanish mackerel and ladyfish. And, as for the reds, let’s say they’re being caught here and there. Occasionally, Girle is working schooling fish, but most are spread out in groups of 2-3 fish.

Capt. Jason Stock is fishing offshore with good results on a variety of species. Fishing around artificial reefs is producing good numbers of mangrove snapper and catch-and-release gag grouper for Stock’s anglers. King and Spanish mackerel are coming to the boat, as well as a cobia or two. Live shiners for bait are producing the bite.

Stock also is targeting black fin tuna on days when he can get out to depths of 60-70 feet. By using a Sabiki rig to catch live sardines, Stock is managing to fill his bait well. Once the black fins are spotted breaching the surface, Stock has his clients casting baits, where black fins in the 20-pound range are the average.

            Send your fishing report and photos to news@islander.org.

Fishing – 05-04-2016

Wind consistent, but anglers report great catches

 

Fishing around Anna Maria Island remains consistent, although windy days are keeping most fishers in the backwaters of the bays and the Intracoastal Waterway.

That said, reports from area fishing guides of snook and spotted seatrout are abundant. The same applies for mangrove snapper within a mile of shore and over the rock piles in Tampa and Sarasota bays.

On my Southernaire Fishing Charters, we are finding many rallies of snook. Most are in the range of 20-26 inches, with keeper fish being taken occasionally. Days of catching 30 or more snook are not uncommon and all snook were hooked on live shiners.

The season closed May 1 for snook, but a hookup can still provide an exciting fight for anglers.

Spotted seatrout are biting fairly well despite the fact they are spawning. Rallies of trout are not as common as they were a couple of weeks ago. After catching a half dozen fish, I’m having to move 50-100 yards down the flats to produce another flurry of fish. Limits are attainable, although I’m having to work harder to reach the goal for the cooler.

On calmer days the nearshore reefs are producing a variety of species. Bottom fish — mangrove snapper and grouper — are abundant. Also, migratory fish — Spanish mackerel and jack crevalle — are making an appearance. Cobia are being found around the reefs, so keep your eyes peeled and your rod handy.

Capt. Warren Girle is fishing inshore with good results. Snook, trout and redfish are being found throughout the flats of Sarasota Bay. Free-lined live shiners are producing the best bite. Rallies of schooley-size snook are common, with a few keeper fish mixed in before season closed. For the redfish, live shiners cast into sandy potholes on shallow flats are providing action. Also, trout fishing on deeper grass flats with live shiners under a cork is producing slot-size fish.

Moving into the Gulf of Mexico, Girle is catching limits of mangrove snapper. Live shiners on a knocker rig are resulting in snapper 12-20 inches. Mixed in are grouper, mackerel and an occasional cobia.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is snook fishing in Tampa Bay, where both live bait and artificials are working well for his clients. Free-lined live shiners over shallow grass flats and around mangrove islands are resulting in many snook 22-26 inches. The best day this past week ended with a count of 80 snook hooked and landed.

Spotted seatrout are producing action for Gross when he’s not catching snook. Deeper grass areas — in the 6- to 8-foot depths — are producing numerous slot-sized trout. Live shiners under a cork are top producers. While targeting trout, Gross is putting his clients on Spanish mackerel and ladyfish.

Also, redfish are in Gross’ crosshairs. Although locating fish is challenging, Gross is managing to put his clients on a few nice redfish for the cooler. Again, live shiners are the bait of choice.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is working inshore structure for mangrove snapper. Limits of these tasty fish are being found in depths of 15-25 feet of water. Most catches are 12-16 inches. Along with the snapper bite, Lowman is putting his anglers on hookups with grouper and flounder.

Also, around inshore structure, Lowman is working the mack bite. These highly aggressive fish are being taken on free-lined live shiners combined with a long shank hook. While catching Spanish mackerel, other species, including barracuda, cobia and shark, are being attracted to the boat.

Moving inshore, Lowman is getting a good reception from snook, redfish and trout. All three are being taken on live shiners. Moving tides and finding a spot to fish out of the wind are key to finding success.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing some large black drum being caught by fishers using live shrimp as bait. Casting these shrimp under the pier among the pilings is resulting in drum, sheepshead, mangrove snapper and flounder.

Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and blue runners are being caught by fishers using jigs or spoons. Persistence is key due to the fact that the bait schools have not arrived at the pier, which in turn means fewer predatory fish.

Capt. Jason Stock is working offshore when winds are light out of the east. In depths of 60-80 feet, he is finding migratory species — black fin tuna and kingfish.

By anchoring and chumming, Stock is drawing fish to the surface in a feeding frenzy. Once this occurs, he sets clients about free lining shiners for a hookup. While targeting tuna and kingfish, Stock is also picking up an occasional cobia.

Permit are being found offshore. To catch these much-sought-after fish, Stock uses stealth on his approach to the structure until he sees the fish on the surface. Once spotted, his anglers are sight-casting live crabs with success.

Finally, bottom fishing around structure is producing mangrove snapper. Live shiners on a bottom rig are attracting attention from 20-inch snapper, according to Stock.

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

 

 

Fishing – 04-27-2016

Temperatures, fishing action heating up

 

Fishing around Anna Maria Island is definitely heating up as the balmy spring mornings fade and progress toward summer and its long hot days.

Whether fishing the flats or venturing out into the Gulf of Mexico, you can rest assured there is action ahead.

On my Southernaire Fishing Charters, I’m taking advantage of light easterly winds, which allows my clients to cast into calm seas. Fishing nearshore structure for mangrove snapper is proving prosperous. Mangrove snapper up to 20 inches are readily taking live shiners dropped to the bottom on a 1/2-ounce knocker rig. While targeting snapper, we’re also reeling up a lot of juvenile grouper, as well as cobia, jack crevalle and Spanish mackerel.

Moving inshore, the flats fishing is nothing short of outstanding. Spotted seatrout are plentiful on deeper flats. Free-lined live shiners over the grass are producing trout in the slot and some over the slot.

And you’ve got a few more days to get a slot-sized snook in the cooler before this fishery closes May 1. It remains closed through Aug. 31.

Fishing the shallower water along mangrove shorelines is producing respectable numbers of snook. Most catches are just under 28 inches, although we did manage to put the landing net under a few keepers.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is working in the bays, fishing for spotted seatrout, redfish and snook. Throughout the waters of Miguel Bay south to Sarasota Bay, Gross is finding excellent action on live bait. Live shiners, the bait of choice, are producing strikes, especially during morning tides. Rallies of spotted seatrout are being found on deeper grass flats on the incoming tides. As for the redfish and snook, the peak of the high and beginning stages of the outgoing tides are producing the best action. Keeper-sizes of all three species are being caught.

Capt. Warren Girle is fishing nearshore structure in search of mangrove snapper — and he doesn’t take much effort to find the target. Limits of mangoes 15-20 inches are being reeled up — fast — to the boat. This is usually occurring just after the anchor has been dropped. Live shiners combined with a 1/2-ounce knocker rig are the winning combo to limits of these tasty snapper.

While targeting snapper, Girle also is finding gag grouper. Although they have to be released, Girle’s clients are reeling up gags in the 12-pound range and an occasional kingfish or cobia.

Moving inshore, Girle is finding the trout bite in Sarasota Bay to be most enjoyable. Live, free-lined shiners or shiners under a popping cork are readily being devoured by spotted seatrout. Trout in the 15-20-inch range are the norm, as are a variety of other species, including bluefish, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and jack crevalle.

Capt. Aaron Lowman also is finding good numbers of spotted seatrout showing up on the bay flats. Deeper grass flats are producing respectable numbers of schooley-sized fish in the 12-18-inch range, while shallower grass is home to the larger gator trout, which tend to be solitary or in pairs. Live shiners under a popping cork are producing this bite for Lowman’s anglers.

Dock fishing around Anna Maria Sound and the Intracoastal Waterway is resulting in redfish and flounder in Lowman’s cooler. Live shiners or pinfish cast around the pilings of docks are attracting the attention of both reds and flounder in the keeper-size range.

Finally, snook fishing is proving productive for Lowman. Live, free-lined shiners over shallow grass flats are producing plenty of schooley-sized fish with a few slot-size linesiders in the mix.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says aside from Spanish mackerel being caught, most anglers are thinking more about what they’ll catch than actually hooking up. Pier fishers using small bubble gum colored jigs are finding good action on Spanish mackerel during the hours just after sunrise until about 10 a.m. A long cast and a quick retrieve of these small jigs is achieving the bite at the pier.

Pier fishers determined to catch a snook are finding some luck on live bait — shiners and pinfish. Most snook catches are in the 20-26-inch range. Larger fish are present, but too smart to take the bait, according to Malfese.

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

Fishing – 04-20-2016

Why can’t April angling last all year?

 

April fishing is shaping up for anglers working the waters around Anna Maria Island. With calm winds, clear waters and the arrival of baitfish both in the Gulf and in Tampa Bay, fishing is nothing less than outstanding.

Now’s the time — drop everything, get out and fish.

On my recent Southernaire Fishing Charters, I’ve been taking advantage of the stellar conditions and trying to fish as much as time allows. Whether working the flats, targeting snook and spotted seatrout or out in the Gulf of Mexico reeling up mangrove snapper around the reefs, I just can’t stay away.

On the flats I’m finding plenty of spotted seatrout, especially during morning tides. Slot and over-slot fish are so abundant that limits of fish are attainable for even the most inexperienced angler. Free-lined shiners, cast out over deep grass flats are producing many 15-18 inch trout. Fishing shallower flats is producing large, breeder trout of up to 26 inches.

Snook also are being found in respectable numbers. Mangrove shorelines where turtle grass and sandy potholes are present are holding many schooley-sized linesiders. These rallies of snook are great adversaries for visiting anglers looking to bend a rod and hear the drag peel out. Larger, keeper-size snook are being found in the same areas, but are spread out and scarcer. Plus, they’re smart, too. This helps make the snook bite more challenging.

Out in the Gulf of Mexico, I’m finding a variety of species. Fishing nearshore structure is producing an exceptional bite for mangrove snapper. Live shiners on a 1/2-ounce knocker rig are resulting in mangoes up to 20 inches. On light tackle, these feisty snapper really put an angler to the test. Getting these fish away from structure is a jog in itself and then running the catch through a gauntlet of barracuda and jewfish is enough to rattle the nerves of even the most seasoned anglers.

While targeting snapper, we are reeling up mackerel, cobia, juvenile grouper, jack crevalle, blue runners and the occasional flounder. What a great variety to catch in a morning of fishing.

Finally, I’m still seeing and catching tripletail around the buoys. I don’t think targetable numbers of fish are present, but I’m seeing at least a couple a day while in transit from one spot to another in the Gulf.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is fishing nearshore structure now that the winds have laid down. By using live shiners as bait, Lowman is reeling in a variety of species, including Spanish mackerel, bonito, kingfish and mangrove snapper. For the mackerel and bonito, free-lined live shiners on a longshank hook are producing a bite. For the snapper, Lowman is using a knocker rig paired with a lively little shiner dropped directly to the bottom for a hook up.

Moving inshore, Lowman is putting clients on snook, redfish and spotted seatrout. Although he says the bite is slightly “fickle,” he’s still managing to produce enough action to keep his anglers smiling throughout the charter. Keeper-sizes of all three species are being caught, especially the trout, with some fish exceeding 20 inches.

Capt. Warren Girle is fishing offshore with good results. By using live shiners as bait, Girle’s clients are rallying on mangrove snapper around the artificial reefs. Limits of fish 2-4 pounds are voraciously taking live bait offerings on a bottom rig. Mixed in with the snapper bite are keeper-size catch-and-release gag grouper, cobia, kingfish and macks.

Moving inshore, Girle’s clients are reeling in their share of spotted seatrout among the lush grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Free-lined shiners or shiners under a popping cork are attracting limits of 15-20 inch trout. Mixed in with the trout bite are ladyfish, jack crevalle and the occasional Spanish mackerel.

Also on the flats of Sarasota Bay, Girle is putting anglers on redfish and snook. Live shiners free-lined over shallow flats where sandy potholes are present are producing explosive strikes on the surface of the water. Keeper sizes of both fish are being caught, as well as a few over-slot fish.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing a variety of quality fish being hoisted to the deck, especially during the morning hours, sunrise until 10 a.m. Pier fishers using small jigs are hooking into pompano, jack crevalle and ladyfish. Spanish macks and blue runners are being taken on the same rig.

Pier fishers dropping live shrimp as bait are managing to reel up sheepshead, black drum and flounder. All three species are being caught under the pier and on the sandy bottom around the pilings. Keeper-sizes are being caught with some regularity.

Finally, live shiners or pinfish are attracting attention from juvenile snook, although the numbers of fish present at the pier are minimal compared to what they will be in the weeks to come.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is leading his clients to some sizzling snook action this week. Rallies resulting in catches of 20 snook or more are commonplace in the right conditions. Most catches are falling between 20-26 inches, although some lucky anglers are catching a snook or two in the slot. Shallow grass flats where good tidal flow exists combined with healthy turtle grass are home to these rallying snook.

Redfish are finding their way aboard Gross’ boat “Fishy Business.” Flats containing oyster bars, sandy potholes or both are great haunts for the elusive redfish. To catch them, Gross is quietly approaching his “spots” via trolling motor, which tends to leave the reds in a relaxed mood. Casting live free-lined shiners to these happy, undisturbed reds is producing slot-fish for Gross’ clients.

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

Fishing – 04-13-2016

Inconsistent weather a constant factor for local fishers

 

Inconsistent weather is resulting in a sporadic bite in the waters surrounding Anna Maria Island.

Within four days of fishing I have seen the wind blow in four directions. Adaptability, knowledge of the local waters and persistence are all playing a huge part in being successful on the water.

On my recent fishing trips with Southernaire Fishing Charters, I’m having to fish different areas on a daily basis. Not being able to get on a steady pattern can be challenging and frustrating, but I’m still managing to put fish in the cooler for my clients.

Most days are windy, so I’m fishing inshore and close to shorelines or mangrove islands to find shelter and calm water. By doing this, I’m finding respectable numbers of snook and spotted seatrout. Most of the snook I’m catching are 20-26 inches — the norm for most anglers in the area. Slot snook are being caught on occasion, which is a reward for anglers. As for spotted seatrout, many slot and over-slot fish are being caught. I’m seeing trout up to 26 inches, with most in the 18-inch range.

Finally, fishing nearshore structure when winds are blowing out of the east is providing great action, as well as ample amounts of great tasting fish for dinner. Mangrove snapper up to 20 inches are taking lively shiners combined with a 1/2-ounce knocker rig. In the areas I’m catching snapper, I’m seeing some flounder and a few stray Spanish mackerel.

Capt. Warren Girle is fishing offshore when the winds and seas are calm. By anchoring in depths of 30-40 feet of water over structure or hard bottom, Girle is catching mangrove snapper and gag grouper. Both species are taking live shiners combined with a knocker rig. Keeper-size mangrove snapper are ranging 15-20 inches. As for the gag grouper, fish up to 15 pounds are being caught and released.

While targeting snapper and grouper, Girle is catching the occasional kingfish and cobia. Both are being caught on free-lined live shiners.

Moving inshore, Girle is catching snook, redfish and trout throughout the flats of Sarasota Bay. Live, free-lined shiners are producing a bite on most days. On days when the bite is slower, Girle is fishing with fresh-cut chunks of ladyfish. This method is resulting in slot and over-slot redfish and snook.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is fishing the inshore water surrounding Anna Maria Island. Spotted seatrout, Spanish mackerel and bluefish are providing rod-bending action on deeper grass flats. Free-lined shiners are Lowman’s bait of choice. Larger trout are being found on shallow flats where sandy potholes are present. For the fish, Lowman is employing the use of a popping cork along with a live shiner as bait.

Snook are being caught when fishing with Lowman. Live, free-lined shiners cast along mangrove edges and shallow grass flats are producing rallies of fish for Lowman. Schooley-size and slot-size fish are the norm.

Finally, mangrove snapper remain consistent for Lowman. Fishing nearshore structure with live shiners on a knocker rig is producing a bite. Mangoes 14-18 inches are being reeled up with regularity.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says Spanish mackerel are beginning to take a showing. Although the bite is in its early stages, anglers casting small jigs or spoons are managing to catch a few fish each morning. Malfese feels that as the bait schools increase around the pier, so will the mackerel bite.

Pier fishers using shrimp as bait are catching sheepshead, although the bite is about over. Keeper-size sheepies are being reeled up, but the numbers of fish are not comparable to the weeks past. Pier fishers targeting sheepies are reeling up flounder and black drum.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is fishing inshore. Free-lining live shiners over shallow grass flats is producing rallies on snook. Many catch-and-release snook are being caught with slot-size fish mixed in every so often.

Spotted seatrout are being found over flats with water depths of 5-8 feet. Casting free-lined shiners or shiners under a cork is producing a bite. Most trout being caught are in the slot of 15-20 inches, although trout up to 25 inches are not uncommon.

Finally, while targeting trout, Gross is finding decent numbers of flounder. Free-lined shiners that manage to swim towards the bottom of sandy potholes are being devoured by flounder in the 10-20 inch range. Average flounder catches are four-six fish per trip.

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