Spring break brings little break from wind on the water

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Andrea Sasman of Wausau, Wisconsin, shows off the 31-inch snook she caught March 26 while fishing with Capt. Danny Stasny of Southernaire Fishing Charters.
Eight-year-old Charley Klein jumped off the plane from Los Angeles and onto the boat March 29 with Capt. Warren Girle. Within an hour, he caught this 32-inch snook on a shiner along the mangrove shoreline. The fish was released for conservation.
Philip Powell, 8, and family, visiting Anna Maria Island from Macon, Georgia, fished March 29 in the bay waters, where he landed this nice trout on a live pilchard. The group was guided by Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters.
Colby Trauttner of Wisconsin shows off the 30-inch snook he caught on a March 28 charter with Capt. Aaron Lowman. Colby tempted his snook out of the mangroves using a live shiner for bait and, after a trophy photo, the fish was released.

Fishing around Anna Maria Island is producing action for anglers despite numerous windy days. And I do mean numerous.

Fishing the flats for snook and spotted seatrout is proving productive. Using live shiners as bait is attracting attention from snook and trout, especially later in the day, when the water has warmed.

Redfish are in the mix, too, although they are not as abundant as snook and trout.

The sheepshead have spawned out, but fishers using live shrimp as bait are managing to catch some convict fish around the reefs and wrecks and at the Rod & Reel Pier.

On my Southernaire charters, I’m taking some extra time to scout out sheltered areas that protect anglers from the wind. Mangrove shorelines, oyster bars and channel edges can be great fishing spots. The key is to find the sheltered areas where there are fish. Casting around mangrove shorelines is resulting in some slot-size snook, as well as many snook in the 20- to 24-inch range.

Trout fishing is bending rods with most catches falling in the slot of 15-20 inches. I’m also finding redfish around local oyster bars, although getting them to bite is a challenge. While targeting reds in clear, shallow water, patience is a virtue.

Lastly, fishing structure with live shrimp is producing a few sheepshead for my anglers. This will be the last week to catch sheepies in numbers, as they have finished their spawn and soon will disperse.

Capt. Warren Girle is working the flats of Sarasota Bay. To start, Girle is targeting spotted seatrout. He’s instructing clients to cast live shiners over grass flats in 5-6 feet of water, which is resulting in limits of these popular fish for his anglers. Most catches are falling in the slot of 15-20 inches, with larger fish in the mix. While targeting trout, ladyfish and jack crevalle are taking the hook as a bycatch. Using live shiners as bait on shallow flats of 3 feet or less is attracting the attention of snook and redfish.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is targeting snook on shallow grass flats and along channel edges. Casting shiners along mangrove shorelines is producing action on linesiders in the 20- to 24-inch range. Casting live shiners along channel edges in slightly deeper water is resulting in some slot-size fish, 28-30 inches.

Fishing deep grass flats with shiners as bait is proving to be good for spotted seatrout. Slot-size fish of 15-20 inches are the norm. Finally, Lowman says fishing around oyster bars and docks is a good way to hook into a redfish. Most catches are 18-24 inches.

Capt. Jason Stock is finding a great bite on his runs offshore. Patrolling the wrecks for permit is proving to be excellent, with fish in the 20-pound range being caught on live crabs. Kingfish, gag and goliath grouper also are present in these areas. Casting free-lined live baits is working well for the kings. As for the gags, a bottom rig combined with a shiner or pinfish is producing nicely. Flounder are in the mix while bottom fishing.

Moving inshore to the flats, Stock says big snook and trout are the go-to species.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is still seeing sheepshead being caught by pier fishers using live shrimp as bait. While targeting sheepshead, the baited shrimp also is attracting redfish, black drum and flounder. For those anglers using artificials, such as silver spoons or jigs, Spanish mackerel are being reeled to the deck, as well as ladyfish, jack crevalle and blue runners.

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