Sheepies persevere in backwater; trout, reds biting too
Jake Scheuflar and dad, Terry, both of Chicago, Ill., with Jake's 19-pound gag grouper caught while fishing with Capt. Mark Howard aboard the Sumotime Charters out of Holmes Beach.
Yes, it's cold out there.
Yes, it's windy out there.
And yes, there are still some fish out there.
For those hardy fishers willing to venture out in the wind, cold, chop and high seas, there is some good fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and bays.
Offshore action for grouper and snapper remains good.
Backwater fishing for trout, redfish and the ever-popular winter mainstay of sheepshead is great right now, with some sheepies tipping the scales at 5 pounds.
When you've got a clear day, get out there and get some fish.
Capt. Mark Howard of Sumotime Charters out of Holmes Beach took Terry Scheuflar and son Jake from Chicago, Ill., out last week on a half-day trip and got into a bunch of grouper and snapper. Jake said he caught "the most fish I have ever caught" with a 19-pound gag grouper in the Gulf of Mexico, then redfish, flounder, jacks and trout plus a 6-pound speckled trout that was released. Capt. Howard said he had to hoist Jake back into the boat at one point, but he was able to hold onto the rod.
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said that although it was tough to get out last week with the weather, they were able to get into some good catches of trout, redfish and sheepshead.
Lee Gause at Perico Harbor Bait & Tackle said it all - "it's cold outside." Despite all that, there are still the mainstay sheepshead biting in the bays, plus some trout as best bets this week.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said offshore reports were slow due to the rough weather, but backwater anglers did well last week with trout and sheepshead to 4 pounds.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said sheepshead and black drum were a good catch around the railroad bridge on the Manatee River and near the Snead Island boat works. Sheepshead are also a good bet near the rocks outside Terra Ceia Bay, Dave added.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he's having a tough time getting offshore with all the wind and cold, but he's still managing to put his charters onto some good catches of sheepshead to 4 pounds, trout to 18 inches and some bluefish.
Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said fish are biting for those who are willing to deal with the cold, with good catches of sheepshead and redfish coming from the Island's docks for his charters last week.
Capt. Sam Kimball on Legend charters out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said he's putting his charters onto mangrove snapper to 4 pounds, sea bass to 17 inches in length, and lots of lane snapper are coming onto the boat in about 50 feet of water offshore with cut bait and shrimp producing the best results insofar as bait is concerned.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's said he took Dave Schukert and Marco Johnston out one day last week and did great with grouper, sheepshead, mangrove snapper and sea bass in the Gulf, as well as good catches of trout, redfish, drum and snapper in the backwater.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said the cold chilled fishing at the pier last week, but those hardy anglers who ventured out caught a lot of sheepshead and black drum.
Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said sheepshead were "about it" at the pier last week, although some fishers were reeling in up to 10 per outing.
On my boat Magic, Scottie Stoddard and I went out into Sarasota Bay off Longboat Key and caught two sheepshead at 5 pounds and three keeper-size redfish at 26 inches.
Good luck and good fishing.
Capt. Mike Heistand is a 20-year fishing guide. Call him at 779-9607 to provide a fishing report. Prints and digital images of your catch are also welcome and may be dropped off at The Islander, 5404 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include identification for persons in the picture along with information on the catch and a name and phone number for more information. Snapshots may be retrieved once they appear in the paper.