Reds starting to show, sheepies still strong, snapper in Gulf
A mess of sheepshead
DBruce Cook, left, of Holmes Beach, and Tim Byers of Owensboro, Ky., caught this nice catch of sheepshead. Islander Photo: Courtesy Brenda Wells
Click on image to enlarge
Fishing has been slow again this week, but there are still some good catches of redfish and sheepshead inshore and mangrove snapper offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.
The weather should pick up this week, and with it the fishing action.
Lee Gause at Perico Harbor Bait & Tackle said he's seeing a few trout, small snook in the canals and a few sheepshead from the Anna Maria Bridge coming to the docks.
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he took the Lowenthal family from Washington, D.C., out last week and caught trout to 20 inches in length, redfish to 24 inches in length, sheepshead to 5 pounds, with most of the action coming from Mr. Twister Exude lures and live shrimp.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said sheepshead are being caught from almost every pier or dock right now, and the action should continue through the end of March. Redfish are starting to make a showing in the bays, while offshore it's mangrove snapper that is the best bet.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said sheepshead are thick around the old railroad bridge in the Manatee River and by the dock at the Snead Island Boat Works, or anywhere near the rocks in front of Terra Ceia Bay. He's also seeing lots of trout coming to the dock.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he's been putting his charters onto lots of mangrove snapper near shore, plenty of trout in the bays, plus some redfish.
Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said redfish and trout near the docks seems to be working for his charters right now.
Capt. Sam Kimball on Legend charters out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said before the winds started up again he was getting lots of mangrove snapper to 5 pounds, grouper to 15 pounds and black tuna to 20 pounds.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's said his best bets were grouper, sheepshead, mangrove snapper, grunts and scamp. Inshore action includes reds, snook, more sheepies and some good-sized flounder.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said there have been a few sheepshead, black drum and some small flounder being caught, mostly on outgoing tides, with fiddler crabs and oyster crabs working the best as bait.
Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said sheepshead are the mainstay and best bet there, with a few snook being caught early in the morning and some mostly undersize grouper being landed.
On my boat Magic, we have been limiting-out on mangrove snapper near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. We caught a few redfish in Terra Ceia Bay and some sheepshead near the docks outside of Key Royale. We did run one trip into the Gulf last week, and caught amberjack to 40 pounds, yellowtail snapper and a few keeper-size grouper to 10 pounds, all about 60 miles from shore.
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.