Ross Bolton, left, and John Godden, both from England, caught these gag grouper while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire last week.
Mack attacks off Anna Maria Island headline fishing
Mackerel action is fast and furious off the piers and near the beach right now, and it should only get better in the next few weeks.
Redfish and snook are also a good bet in the backwaters, although many of the reports coming in have the reds running a little on the small side. Trout are problematic but are still out there to be caught by the diligent anglers.
Offshore fishing for grouper and snapper is excellent in the Gulf of Mexico.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said mackerel are thick off almost every pier on the Island right now. Sheepshead are starting to gather by the pilings and other structures in the bays and passes, and redfish are working along the seagrass flats in the bays. Offshore fishing for grouper and snapper remains excellent.
Capt. Thom Smith said he's been catching lots of small but still keeper-size redfish, a few small snook and some keeper-sized mangrove snapper.
At the Rod & Reel Pier, Tom said fishers are catching keeper-sized snook using shiners for bait, redfish and black drum with shrimp on the hook and lots of mackerel with spoons. There were also lots of sheepshead catches, and the catch of the week was a 9 1/2-foot-long bull shark.
Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said anglers there are catching lots of mackerel, a few keeper-sized snook and one 38-inch linesider. Sheepshead are starting to hit, with tube worms working well as bait, and there are a few mangrove snapper being caught.
Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said fishing "was great this week in between the windy days. Grouper action stole the show, with big gag grouper up to 15 pounds and red grouper to 12 pounds. We also caught a large mangrove snapper, along with scamp, triggerfish, Spanish mackerel and a kingfish. The grouper were biting so good, it was hard to fish for the kings, but they were there for us. We had a surprise on a four-hour trip with Ross Bolton and party from England with a nice cobia and four big gag grouper, along with many smaller fish. Currently, we're fishing out to 120 feet, using live pinfish and Spanish sardines. The best action going on now is out past 30 miles in the Gulf."
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he's been seeing some really big snook around the dock in the past week. Boaters are bringing back lots of big redfish and mangrove snapper to 16 inches in length from near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said snook fishing for him is red-hot right now. Whitebait is still plentiful, and redfish are a good bet on most days. He's also finding lots of mackerel and a few mangrove snapper.
At Skyway Bait and Tackle, reports include plenty of mackerel hookups from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge area, with mornings being the most productive time for the best catches. There are cobia reports coming in, but mostly just sightings - no catches yet. Redfish are a good bet from Miguel Bay, though, and some really big snook were caught in the Manatee River.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina saidhe took Rick and Matt Fuchs from Cincinnati and guests out several times last week and caught a cornucopia of local species. "Snook and redfish topped the list, but gag grouper, Goliath grouper, sheepshead, mangrove snapper, Spanish mackerel, trout, jacks, ladyfish, flounder and bluefish all came aboard," Capt. Zach said. "The only downside was that the average size of all the aforementioned species tended to be a bit on the small side. I have not seen as many under-the-slot redfish in this area for quite some time and it is a good indication of some great redfishing in our area for years to come - barring any disaster. Ditto with the snook and trout. The biggies were the Spanish mackerel, which are big and fat. The kingfish run is on about 10 miles to the west. Hopefully, the big kingfish will treat us to some good action close to the beaches before Turkey Day."
Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams said he has been catching kingfish to 15 pounds, redfish and snook in the shallower seagrass flats in the bays, and some large Spanish mackerel in the deeper grass beds in Anna Maria Sound.
On my boat Magic, we've been targeting redfish, with the biggest catch being a 28-incher. Good-sized trout are few and far between, but we've still managed a few on every trip. We also caught some big snook.
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.