If you can deal with the heat, there is some great fishing waiting in the waters around Anna Maria Island.
Venturing offshore is resulting in numerous yellowtail and mangrove snappers. Keeper gag and red grouper are being caught with some consistency. And, if you’re staying inshore or nearshore, the list goes on. Spotted seatrout are in abundance around most deeper grass flats. Also inhabiting these areas are a variety of rod-benders, including bluefish, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and jack crevalle. Fishing structure inshore, which includes rocks, docks and artificial reefs, is producing a good mangrove snapper bite, as well as some flounder. Lastly, catch-and-release snook action along mangrove shorelines is proving to be at its best.
On my Southernaire fishing adventures, I’m experiencing a great bite. Mangrove snapper is proving to be a winner, especially for clients looking to take a couple of fish home for dinner. An added bonus, an occasional flounder is taking the bait. In the areas I’m catching the snapper and flounder, there are numerous Spanish mackerel to catch on surface baits, which adds a nice mix to the bite.
There are plenty of blacktip sharks in Tampa Bay, which is a great way to make use of the abundance of Spanish mackerel we’re catching. Palm-sized chunks of these oily fish cast among schooling blacktips aren’t lasting more than a minute or two before they are sniffed out and devoured. The shark bite is from blacktips that range 4-6 feet.
Finally, on the grass flats of Tampa Bay I’m finding ample amounts of spotted seatrout. Most catches are running just under slot, but we’re still managing to find enough keepers for a trout dinner. Mixed in with these trout are jack crevalle, ladyfish, mackerel, mangrove snapper and juvenile grouper.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is seeing nothing less than exceptional fishing for August. Fishing the artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico and in Tampa Bay is resulting in limits of mangrove snapper. Small shiners either free-lined over structure or dropped to the bottom around the structure are like candy for a hungry snapper.
Moving to shallower water or deep grass flats is producing a range of species for Gross’ anglers. Finding bait schools on the edges of these grassy areas also is leading to spotted seatrout, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and small sharks.
Finally, redfish and catch-and-release snook are being caught with some regularity. For the snook, fishing around the passes with good tidal flow is resulting in linesiders up to 30 inches. As for the reds, casting free-lined shiners around oyster bars or under hanging mangroves is deadly.
Capt. Warren Girle is fishing offshore for mangrove snapper. Fishing artificial reefs and ledges is resulting in limits of snapper for Girle. Also present are Spanish mackerel. Free-lined shiners on a long shank hook are attracting some of the high-speed predators to bite.
Moving inshore, Girle is finding exceptional numbers of spotted seatrout throughout the lush grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Most catches are 12-20 inches. Free-lined shiners or shiners under a cork are Girle’s plan of attack for these fish. Mixed in are Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and jack crevalle.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says pier fishers using live shrimp as bait are hooking into black drum, mangrove snapper and flounder. All of these fish are being caught by casting bait under or around the pier pilings.
Large, over-slot redfish and snook also are making their presence known at the Rod & Reel. For both species, live pinfish are producing a bite. Stout gear with leaders of at least 50-pound test are a must if one expects to pull one of these big fish from under the barnacle-encrusted pier.
Spanish mackerel are making a showing at the pier due to the vast amounts of schooling scaled sardines. Small jigs, silver spoons or Gotcha plugs can entice these toothy fish to bite.
Capt. Aaron Lowman is putting clients on numerous Spanish mackerel and mangrove snapper around nearshore and inshore structure. Chumming heavily with small shiners is getting the fish fired up, resulting in good action. Also around structure, Lowman is finding permit accommodating. Casting a live crab or jig to these fish is triggering a strike.
On the flats, catch-and-release snook fishing is proving to be stellar for Lowman. Some morning fishing charters are resulting in up to 50 snook to the boat. During these rallies, Lowman is finding an occasional redfish in the mix.
Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is cruising the bait schools along the beaches for bonito, macks and an occasional kingfish. For some pure adrenaline-pumping, drag-screaming action, the kings fit the bill. Casting live free-lined baits to frenzied schools of ravenous fish is resulting in immediate hookups.
Around structure offshore, White is finding mangrove and yellowtail snapper. Chumming with small, dead shiners and placing one on a hook is resulting in success.
Every so often, a keeper-size gag is getting in the chum and wreaking havoc on unsuspecting anglers.
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