Fishing remained red hot, before red tide moved north

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Alex Bobb, 19, of Dallas, was on a fishing charter Aug. 3 with Capt. Warren Girle when he hooked this nice redfish on a live shiner in Sarasota Bay.
Fish stock - Capt. Jason Stock hosted a group from Lakeland for a day of fishing in July, when one of the group launched a drone for a great aerial shot. Turns out the drone guy is from Alabama and more drone photos from the day can be found on instagram @shottimepro. Islander Courtesy Photo

Fishing around Anna Maria Island remained consistent through Saturday, Aug. 4.

With red tide in heavy concentration in the waters south of Sarasota down to Charlotte Harbor and Boca Grande, it was as if a gray cloud loomed offshore.

As the week progressed and reports from anglers in Boca Grande worsened, I wondered if the currents would bring the fish-killing toxin up here. On Aug. 3, it was present in only two test locations in low concentration, which had little to no effect on fish, sea turtles or manatees here.

Now it’s another story.

Most action last week was occurring in the bays and Intracoastal Waterway due to rough surf and almost daily rainstorms. In the calm backwaters of Tampa Bay, spotted seatrout were in abundance.

While targeting these fish, we were also hooking up with Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and mangrove snapper. And, speaking of mangrove snapper, the bite was strong. These fish had migrated into the inland waters in great numbers and were on the feed. We were fishing around structure — piers, docks, bridges and rock piles — for good results. And on the deeper grass flats, especially where schooling hatch bait was present. Mangrove snapper love to eat small bite-size shiners and, lots of times, if the bait is present you can bet you’ll hook some snapper.

On the shallower grass flats, catch-and-release snook fishing were providing decent action for sport fishers — especially during the higher tide stages. You might encounter a few redfish if you can find a clean spot to fish, as they seem to be slowly arriving back in the local waters. Look for mangrove edges and oyster bars to target the snook and reds.

Lastly, on calmer days with light breezes, it’s worth taking a peek in the Gulf of Mexico for some reef action. The artificial reefs to the north should still be host to a variety of fish, including snappers, grunts, mackerel, flounder and barracuda. Take some extra hatch bait with you to these areas and chum heavily. You might be surprised by the action that results.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier said last week they were seeing the arrival of mangrove snapper. Pier fishers using live shrimp as bait were catching near limits of tasty fish. Most catches were 10-12 inches, with an occasional 15-inch fish being reeled up. Other catches at the R&R before red tide moved to the north end were black drum and over-slot redfish. Both were being caught on live shrimp. Macks and ladyfish were attracted to silver spoons and white jigs.

Lastly, the catch-and-release snook hunt at the pier remained good Aug. 3. Most catches were over-slot and were being caught on large baits — pinfish, mullet and ladyfish.

Capt. Aaron Lowman was targeting spotted seatrout in southern Tampa Bay — north of the Bimini Bay. Anchoring over deep grass flats and using live shiners as bait was yielding numerous hookups on trout. Mixed in with the trout bite were ladyfish and macks. Mangrove snapper were making a showing, too. Lowman found schools of hatch bait along channel edges and around structure to target these snapper, with most catches coming in at 10-14 inches.

Fishing shallow flats adjacent to mangrove shorelines was producing good action on catch-and-release snook for Lowman’s clients. While targeting linesiders, Lowman’s anglers also hit on a few redfish. Lastly, on calm days, Lowman was venturing out to the artificial reefs, where mangrove snapper, barracuda and some gag grouper were biting.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters was putting clients the week of July 30 on mangrove snapper around docks and mangrove edges where deeper water exists. Casting small shiners on a weighted rig yielded snapper up to 15 inches — and plenty of them. Fishing over deep grass produced trout and macks.

Targeting catch-and-release snook also produced a few redfish. To find these fish, White works shallow grass flats, oyster bars and mangrove edges, where these fish are known to seek refuge.

Lastly, with the opening of amberjack season now in place, White hopes to find clear water offshore at the wrecks to cash in on the season.

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