Lots of reds, sheepies, some snook good bets now
Many mangroves for Mackson charter
Bill Mackson and his party caught an impressive 70 mangrove snapper while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters.
Fishing action remains on the slow side, except for those great-tasting sheepshead near almost any structure in the bays. Lots of reports of 4-pound sheepies are coming up everywhere, with really good results coming from fishing near the Anna Maria Bridge or the pier at the Manatee Public Beach.
Offshore fishing, when weather permits, is near-excellent for grouper and snapper.
And backwater anglers are filling the holds still with redfish and having lots of fun with catch-and-release trout and some big snook.
Lee Gause at Perico Harbor Bait & Tackle said there are lots of sheepshead being caught near the Anna Maria Bridge and the pier at the Manatee Public Beach in Holmes Beach, plus some redfish coming from the potholes in the seagrass flats. Catch-and-release trout are also a good bet for anglers, he added.
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he's getting quite a few redfish in the 15- to 24-inch range, flounder to 15 inches, sheepshead to 4 pounds and a few catch-and-release trout. Most of his best results are coming from Joe's Island, with artificial bait and flies working the best for hookups.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said anglers are finding things to be at its winter best, with lots of sheepshead, black drum, flounder and a few redfish.
Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said he's seeing lots of black drum, flounder and sheepshead to 4 pounds coming onto the deck.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said grouper fishing is still fair to excellent offshore right now, with trolling about five miles from Anna Maria Island g the best results. Some of the grouper are coming in at better than 20 pounds, too. Snapper action - lane and mangrove - is also good, with most catches in the 3- to 4-pound range. Sheepies and redfish are the targeted fish in the backwaters, he added.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said sheepshead are everywhere right now, plus some catch-and-release snook being caught near the old railroad bridge in the Manatee River. Black drum are still being caught near the docks in the river, he added.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he's getting his charters into a mess of bluefish, sheepshead, small grouper, flounder and some catch-and-release trout.
Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said redfish are his best bet of the week, with sheepshead adding to the mix. The sheepies are in the 4-pound range, Capt. Tom added.
On my boat Magic, we've been catching reds to 26 inches, sheepshead to 4 pounds, and catch-and-release trout to 24 inches in length.
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 email@example.com. 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.