Fishing – 01-06-2016

December 2015 winds up on tight lines, great weather


With temperatures in the mid-80s for the final week of December, both local and visiting fishers found themselves flocking to Anna Maria Island to take advantage of the excellent fishing conditions.

Whether fishing the flats for snook, trout and redfish or venturing out into the Gulf of Mexico, fishers found tight lines and pleasant conditions on the water.

On my own fishing charters, I found myself torn on what to do. I was looking at backwater fishing in Sarasota Bay, which was producing respectable numbers and sizes of spotted seatrout. I also knew the snook fishing in Anna Maria Sound was ripe with considerable numbers of catch-and-release schooley snook. And the snapper bite on the artificial reefs was on fire. Limits of snapper were being caught by my clients with consistency.

Needless to say, it’s not often that we are dealt this kind of hand on the last week of the year. This kind of fishing can spoil a fisher. Well, be that what it may, I managed to spoil my week’s clients with bent rods and fish in the cooler for dinner.

There’s nothing like finishing out the year with a bag or a cooler full of mangrove snapper.

Now, with the approaching cold fronts of January just around the corner, we can only wait and adapt to what Mother Nature has in store.

Happy new year and good fishing.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing a variety of species coming to the dock for pier fishers using live shrimp as bait. Sheepshead, black drum and flounder are the most typical fish being caught, although mangrove snapper and grunts are in the mix, too. As of this week, no one species is dominating the bite, and out-of-town fishers are satisfied to catch multiple species in a morning of fishing.

Pier fishers using artificials, such as Gotcha plugs, silver spoons or small jigs, are still catching the occasional jack crevalle, Spanish mackerel and blue runner, although there is no consistency to this bite. You might find yourself doing a lot of casting to achieve a catch, but determination brings good results.

Capt. Warren Girle is focusing on fishing structure in the Gulf of Mexico. Reefs in as shallow as 15 feet of water are producing great action for mangrove snapper. Limits are being caught around most of the artificial reefs all the way out to 40 feet of water.

Cobia are present on the deeper reefs with keeper sizes of fish being caught at random and bottom fishing with live shiners as bait. In between cobia, Girle’s clients are reeling up Key West grunts, mangrove snapper and juvenile grouper.

Finally, on days when the wind is blowing, Girle is working the flats of Sarasota Bay. On deeper flats of 4-6 feet, Girle is putting his clients on spotted seatrout, bluefish and an occasional Spanish mackerel.

On shallow flats of 3 feet or less, Girle is putting his clients on slot-size redfish. Free-lined live shiners or shiners under a popping cork are attracting a bite.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is going to work at both nearshore and offshore structure with good results. Mangrove snapper are in abundance and are producing consistent action. By bottom fishing with live shiners, Lowman’s clients are reeling up limits of snapper, as well as many juvenile grouper and Key West grunts. Flounder are mixed in with the bite, too.

Moving to the flats in Anna Maria Sound, Lowman is finding decent numbers of spotted seatrout. To catch these popular backwater fish, Lowman sets his clients to work, free-lining live shiners on the flats. Catches of trout 15-18 inches are common with some catches in the 20-inch range.

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