|Gulf gag grouper good bet right now
Roy Padgett, manager of the Hilton Inn on Longboat Key, caught this 12-pound gag grouper with a trolling Rapala lure while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire last week. The fish was caught in Tampa Bay.
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Winter fishing: Sometimes good, sometimes bad
Welcome to winter fishing off Anna Maria Island - sometimes good, sometimes less than that.
Pier action was disappointing last week due to cold weather and dropping water temperatures, with only a few sheepshead and an occasional trout caught.
Backwater fishing for trout and some redfish was acceptable, though, and there were some phenomenal reports of trout caught as well as some decent snook action.
Grouper and snapper are also a good bet offshore, but weathering the weather is the big issue right now.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said trout are a good choice for backwater fishers right now. Grady Smith and his cousins caught about 60 catch-and-release trout earlier this week using live shrimp as bait, as well as a mix of artificials such as Yo-zuri, Rapala and rebels. Snook are also thick in the seagrass beds, and Bill said a good trick is to look for them in the narrows like near the canals in Holmes Beach. Flounder are also a great backwater fish to hunt for right now, Bill added, with a good target area being any of the sandy areas near the grass flats along the Intracoastal Waterway. Offshore fishing for grouper is "fantastic," he added, with lots of catches coming in less than 50 feet of water in the Gulf.
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he's been putting his charters onto redfish to 24 inches in length, nice-sized trout to 23 inches and sheepshead to 4 pounds, all caught from Terra Ceia Bay and Miguel Bay on a mix of artificial baits and live shrimp. He also offered a prediction: "We're looking at a pretty decent week of fishing ahead."
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said fishing was pretty slow, with the best catches being sheepshead, although he said action should improve in the next few weeks.
At the Anna Maria City Pier , best bets were sheepies with some flounder catches.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said "we've been catching not much of nothing."
At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, reports included sea trout on the seagrass flats and off the residential canals, but with the high winds few people went out in the Gulf last week.
Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he's been putting his offshore charters onto gag and red grouper, scamp, mangrove snapper and amberjack, and he's finding fishing best in better than 100 feet of water with live pinfish, grunts, frozen sardines or shrimp working best for snapper.
Capt. Ray Markham on the Flat Back II said things have been pretty typical of the season - up to excellent catches of redfish, some nice speckled trout, a few flounder, ladyfish, and even some nice-sized snook. "We should have some better tides this coming week around the new moon on the 8th," Capt. Ray said, "and decent weather is predicted, so trips this week should prove to be pretty productive. I guess time will tell."
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said he's catching redfish to 27 inches, sheepshead to 6 pounds, some flounder and trout to 24 inches, as well as snook with the best action coming from artificials and shrimp.
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.