Falling into our typical summertime pattern of calm east breezes in the morning followed by a spattering of thunderstorms in the afternoon is providing excellent fishing around Anna Maria Island.
Inshore fishing is providing good action on spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook. Deep grass flats are holding many and all sizes of trout. To find good action on snook, try fishing around the passes and beaches. And speaking of the beaches, the tarpon are running and sport fishing for the silver king is getting good — especially with the calm, clear water we have now. Look for schooling migratory fish cruising the beaches and the passes and be ready to cast your bait at their noses.
Moving offshore in the summer brings a variety of species — mangrove snapper, American red snapper, gag grouper, cobia and permit. For the mangoes and gags, reefs and wrecks are proving to be good. Wrecks are holding the cobia and permit. If its red snapper you fancy, try fishing hard bottom and ledges in depths of 100 feet or more.
On my Southernaire charters, I’m putting clients on plenty of catch-and-release snook. Most catches are 20-30 inches. Live shiners are the best bait to attract the linesiders on the flats and in the passes. Spotted seatrout are keeping clients busy. A free-lined shiner — with the addition of a small split shot cast over deep grass — is quickly being eaten by hungry trout. A lot of small, under-slot trout are present in these areas, but so are the 18- to 20-inch fish. You just have to catch a lot of trout to yield a limit. Spanish mackerel, small blacktip sharks and ladyfish are present in these areas, providing a nice variety for anglers.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing a smorgasbord of fish coming to the deck at Anna Maria Island’s northern-most pier.
Pier fishers using live shrimp as bait are catching redfish, black drum, sheepshead and mangrove snapper. Casting shrimp under the pier is yielding the best results. Pier fishers casting shrimp away from the pier are having luck on flounder, whiting, blue runners and jacks. Those using shiners as bait are finding even more fish to be caught, including mackerel, ladyfish and catch-and-release snook.
Capt. Aaron Lowman is working both nearshore structure and hard bottom for a variety of species. Around the artificial reefs, mangrove snapper, cobia and permit are taking the hook. Due to the extremely clear water, Lowman is finding the best bite occurs when he can mask the bait on the hook by heavily chumming the waters with a mix of frozen and live chum.
Moving inshore, Lowman is putting clients on redfish and catch-and-release snook along mangrove shorelines and around the passes. Early morning brings the best action, according to Lowman, because the water is slightly cooler than in the afternoon. Tarpon fishing is proving to be good during morning hours, too. Casting live crabs or threadfin herring as bait are producing hookups with the silver king.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is working a variety of species. To start, he’s finding catch-and-release snook in good numbers around the passes. Fish ranging from 22-40 inches are taking live shiners on the hook. For the larger linesiders, palm-size pinfish and grunts work well.
Spotted seatrout are tops for Gross’ clients looking to fill the cooler. Trout can be found in grass patches of 3-6 feet of water, which is yielding many 16-18 inch trout. While targeting trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish and an occasional blacktip shark are being caught.
Lastly, tarpon fishing is rounding out the bite for Gross. Early mornings spent casting crabs and threadfin herring is proving successful for Gross, with fish in the 100-pound range running the norm for his anglers.
Capt. Warren Girle is working inshore throughout the lush grass flats of Sarasota Bay, where sport fishing for snook is going strong, especially during morning tides when the water is cooler.
Redfish are being caught by Girle’s anglers on the morning tides around oyster bars and mangrove shorelines.
To round out the morning, Girle is targeting spotted seatrout on the deeper grass areas throughout Sarasota Bay. Mixed in with the trout bite are bluefish, macks and ladyfish.
When not flats fishing, Girle is running clients to the beach to patrol for tarpon. Casting live crabs to schooling fish as they migrate north and south along the beaches of Anna Maria Island is resulting in acrobatic jumps, drag-screaming runs and happy anglers.
Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters also is targeting tarpon along the beaches of Anna Maria Island — and in Tampa Bay. With near-perfect conditions, the tarpon bite is following suit. Casting live crabs and threadfin herring to schooling fish is resulting in numerous hookups. Fish in the 80-pound class are the norm, but bigger fish are in the mix.
When he lets up on the tarpon, White is hunting mangrove snapper and mackerel over structure in the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. This bite is occurring in depths of 20-50 feet of water. Moving out deeper to depths of 100 feet or more is proving good for American red snapper.
Capt. Jason Stock is spending his days tracking tarpon from Egmont Key south to Longboat Key. Numerous fish are taking live bait — crabs and herring. While cruising the beaches, Stock is encountering an occasional cobia, and he keeps his gear ready for a cast.
Moving offshore, Stock is sight-casting to permit on wrecks and reefs in depths of 40-60 feet of water. Moving out to depths of 80-120 feet, Stock is finding gag grouper, American red snapper and mangrove snapper accommodating. On lucky days, while bottom fishing, Stock is even finding mahi-mahi schools passing the boat. Although not a regular occurrence in those waters, Stock said, “it sure is welcome.”
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