Fishing around Anna Maria Island remains consistently inconsistent.
On warm, calm days, fishing is exceptional, especially in the bays and Intracoastal Waterway.
On the windier days during the cold fronts, fishing is sporadic. There are too few places to fish out of the wind and the stirred up water.
So, the warm calm days are where it’s at for anglers.
Fishing Tampa and Sarasota bays for spotted seatrout and snook is keeping anglers busy. Live bait fishing with shiners is producing the best action on either species. Redfish are taking the hook, but not with the volume of the snook and trout. Jack crevalle have moved into the shallows, terrorizing everything in their paths. Most jacks being caught are 4-6 pounds — anyone who fishes light tackle knows they put up quite a battle when hooked. Anglers jigging around the passes and the adjacent deeper grass flats are catching pompano. Don’t forget to tip those jigs with shrimp for an advantage.
Moving offshore, reports of permit, cobia, kingfish and tuna are on the rise. Live baits and artificials are working for these fish. Remember to pick your days wisely, as we are experiencing windy conditions on a regular basis. Mangrove snapper and grouper are being reported while fishing nearshore structure, such as the artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico.
On my own Southernaire Charters, I’m patrolling the flats of Tampa and Sarasota bays and Anna Maria Sound. Snook and spotted seatrout are on the menu. Snook fishing around mangrove edges is producing impressive numbers of fish — on some days, as many as 30 snook are being reeled to the boat. The same applies for the spotted seatrout, although I am finding them on deeper grass away from the shorelines. My clients are catching many slot-size trout —fish 15-20 inches. Over-slot fish — up to 25 inches — are in the mix, but not as apparent as the slot fish.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier continues to see sheepshead hanging around the pilings under the pier. Live shrimp is working as bait for these tasty fish. Shrimp also is producing action on some redfish and flounder. Pier fishers using jigs tipped with shrimp are catching an occasional pompano as well as ladyfish and jack crevalle. Lastly, Spanish mackerel are being caught on silver spoons or small pink jigs.
Capt. Aaron Lowman is spending his days throughout the inshore waters. Trout fishing is dominating the action, especially on calm days. Free-lining shiners under a cork is producing numerous fish 15-20 inches, as well as some fish exceeding 24 inches. Snook fishing is producing good action for Lowman while working in the bay. Many 20-26 inch snook are taking baits. Slot-size fish, although quite smarter than their smaller counterparts, are occasionally being tricked by Lowman to “take the bait.”
Redfish are in the mix, found around oyster bars during high tides.
Capt. Warren Girle is fishing the lush grass flats of Sarasota Bay, where live bait fishing with scaled sardines is producing consistent action on spotted seatrout for his clients. This bite is occurring over flats with depths of 4-6 feet. Casting bait into sandy potholes or grass edges is proving to work best.
Snook fishing is producing action for Girle’s clients. Again, live shiners are the bait of choice. Girle is stalking these snook among shallow flats of 3 feet or less. Oyster bars and or mangroves make up the terrain.
Lastly, moving his clients offshore, Girle is putting them on mangrove snapper, kingfish and numerous juvenile grouper in depths of 40- 50 feet. Ledges, reefs and wrecks are producing the bite.
Capt. Jason Stock is doing what he does best and that’s catching permit. Casting live crabs around reefs and wrecks is resulting in permit exceeding 20 pounds. Other species being hooked while offshore with Stock include cobia, flounder, blackfin tuna, gag grouper, kingfish and an occasional goliath grouper. On windier days when fishing offshore is not possible, Stock is hunting big snook and trout on the flats.
With unpredictable wind on the Gulf, Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is fishing charter clients inshore. Spotted seatrout are in abundance and White is catching his share. Using live shiners for bait over deep grass flats is resulting in limits of trout. Live bait fishing with shiners is attracting many snook to the hook, too. Shallow grass flats around mangroves and oyster bars are holding plenty of 20-26 inch fish, as well as some keepers. Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico is host to both Spanish and king mackerel. This bite is occurring around nearshore structure within 7 miles of shore, according to White.
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