|Great day on the water
David and Sissy Stone, of Palma Sola, caught 30 snook - 12 of them of keeper size - and all but two of them released — while fishing with Capt. Gary Huffman on board the Tuna Breath.
Reds take over inshore waters; grouper, snapper still good offshore
Water temperatures have cooled off a bit - now 84 degrees - to heat up the fishing action and, with air temperatures still high but humidity low, it's a great time to get out on the water.
Inshore fishing is dominated by redfish for most fishers. Snook action is good for some others, so-so for a few. Trout action is generally regarded as being in the "few and far between" category.
Offshore fishing for grouper and snapper is still good. There are also some recent reports of Goliath grouper catches.
Goliaths, once called jewfish, are off limits for fishers to keep, but generally a fish worthy of a picture, since they can grow to hundreds of pounds in size. Once a popular target for spearfishers, the fish numbers declined to the point that they were banned from the fishbox about 30 years ago. There seems to be a resurgence in their populations in the past few years, though, at least in our waters.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said snook fishing is excellent for him, with redfish action not too far behind on the "fun scale." Trout fishing is slow, but he's still putting his clients onto some snapper.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said grouper and snapper fishing offshore is good, and the fish are biting better now that the water temperatures are finally starting to cool. There are also lots of reports of Goliath grouper being caught. In the backwater, look for redfish and snook.
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he's finding that fishing includes a little of everything right now. He's catching snook, redfish and trout on both artificial and live bait. Although lots of the fish are running small, he's still getting more than a few inside the respective slot limits.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the "Dee Jay II" out of Parrot Cove Marina in Cortez said, "Things are looking up a lot this past week. Full moons in saltwater fishing can always be a challenge, but with a little stick-to-itivness some decent catches have been made. Bait is absolutely thick all over our local waters. Once again there are pilchards (large and small), threadfin, Spanish sardines, and small pinfish." He's been catching redfish and snook, both large and small. "Mangrove snapper continue to be thick and will be available until the first hard front of the fall," he predicted, adding that "Cooler weather on the horizon should bring in Spanish mackerel, kingfish and cobia."
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said fishers there are catching lots of little redfish, "tons of jacks and ladyfish," plus a few snook and mackerel.
Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said he's seeing a few mackerel come in, plus jacks and snapper, and some snook are being caught at night.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he heard of good snook catches almost every morning last week, plus some mangrove snapper up to 14 inches in length. Redfish are scattered throughout Terra Ceia Bay and Miguel Bay. Trout are hard to find, but there were a few black drum being caught in the Manatee River.
At Skyway Bait and Tackle, reports include a few mackerel from near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge fishing piers. There are also reports of lots of small grouper coming in, but flounder fishing has really picked up, and small sharks are being caught in Tampa Bay at night.
On my boat Magic, we're finding redfish to be the mainstay, with limit catches most days. We did catch one 12-pounder last week, as well as more and more flounder as the water cools. We've also gotten into a mess of small Goliath grouper - only 6 pounds or so.
Good luck and good Fishing.
Capt. Mike Heistand is a 20-year-plus fishing guide. Call him at 723-1107 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.