Fishing around Anna Maria Island is consistently good for another week — mild air temperatures and water temps still hovering in the mid-70s.
Spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook are responding positively to the conditions, which makes the perfect recipe for a day on the water with a rod in your hand.
Offshore fishing is following suit as reports roll in of numerous catches of blackfin tuna, kingfish, amberjack and permit. Aside from some breezy days, waters have remained smooth to a light chop — splendid conditions for an offshore adventure.
On my own Southernaire charters, I’m finding it hard most days to return to the dock after the charter is done. The waters of Sarasota Bay are pristine this time of year.
A calm emerald green, the waters are so clear you can see the bottom. It can be quite hypnotizing when looking through polarized sunglasses.
Being able to see dolphins, manatees and sea turtles in the bay only adds to the experience for visiting and local anglers. And did I mention the fishing is good, too?
I’m seeing plenty of slot and over-slot trout reeled to the boat during my morning charters. These trout are a welcome sight as they provide good action for the anglers and make good table fare, too. This is even more apparent now that snook season is closed.
Speaking of snook, catch-and-release action remains good as these fish are still on the feed in preparation for their trek to the beaches of Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island to begin their spawn. Lastly, I’m seeing greater numbers of Spanish mackerel making a showing, especially around the vicinity of the passes and on the deeper grass flats. Baiting a small live shiner on a longshank hook is a great way to catch these high-speed fish. And if you’re in a school of them, small white or pink jigs will work just as well. That way you can save your shiners to target snook and trout.
Capt. Jason Stock is taking clients offshore to hunt for a variety of species. Kingfish, amberjack and blackfin tuna are being taken around wrecks in depths of 70-100 feet of water. Casting large live shiners, threadfin herring or cigar minnows is attracting these large migratory fish.
In shallower offshore waters — depths of 40-60 feet — permit are being caught with regularity. Live crabs are the bait of choice for these elusive fish.
Goliath grouper are being caught on large baits, such as jack crevalle.
Capt. Aaron Lowman is targeting catch-and-release snook during the full moon outgoing tides. Casting live shiners to these linesiders is resulting in fish up to 30 inches. Spotted seatrout are in Lowman’s sights during the full moon tides.
Slower periods of the tide, according to Lowman, are producing excellent action on slot-size trout, as well as a few over-slot fish.
Moving out of the bays and into the Gulf of Mexico, Lowman is finding nearshore action on a variety of migratory species. He’s putting clients on bonito, kingfish and Spanish mackerel on free-lined shiners. Casting around reefs is proving to be most productive.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing some large catch-and-release snook being reeled up. Patient pier fishers using stout tackle and large baits such as pinfish or ladyfish are hooking into snook in the 30- to 40-inch range.
Redfish are being caught in the same size range while targeting snook. Fishers wishing to catch something to eat are targeting black drum, flounder and mangrove snapper. To catch these fish, a bottom rig baits with live shrimp and cast under the pier is bringing success. Also, casting jigs or silver spoons from the pier is attracting Spanish mackerel to bite, which provides great action on light tackle as well as some nice table fare depending on your palate.
Capt. Warren Girle is working nearshore structure for mangrove snapper. Whether its ledges, reefs or wrecks, Girle is putting clients on keeper-size snapper, which are taking small live shiners as bait. Mixed in with the snapper bite are Key West grunts, flounder and many juvenile grouper. Free-lining the shiners instead of bottom fishing is resulting in some hits from Spanish mackerel and a few kingfish.
Moving inshore, Girle is finding his share of spotted seatrout. Fishing over deep grass flats in 5-6 feet of water is yielding the most fish. Shallower flats of 2-3 feet are producing redfish and catch-and-release snook for his clients.
Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is running charters offshore for a variety of species. Fishing around offshore wrecks in depths of 70-100 feet is resulting in numerous amberjack. Bottom fishing over hard bottom and ledges in the same depths is also proving to be good for red grouper and American red snapper.
Moving into shallower water with depths of 40 feet is producing good action on mangrove snapper, especially around artificial reefs and ledges. Lastly, fishing the flats southward of Tampa Bay is providing action on catch-and-release snook as well as spotted seatrout and large jack crevalle.
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