Head to Anna Maria waters for good fishing action

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Mark Davis, visiting Anna Maria Island from Statesboro, Georgia, shows off a healthy red grouper Oct. 6 caught while on a charter trip with Capt. David White in 130 feet of water on a dead sardine.
Leanne and Chris Grove, along with friend Russ Grossman, all visiting Anna Maria from Louisville, Kentucky, show off their catch of mangrove snapper caught offshore on shiners. They also caught Spanish mackerel on their guided trip with Capt. Warren Girle.

Fishing around Anna Maria Island is good.

Inshore fishing in areas where red tide is diminished is resulting in some of the best fishing of the year for anglers.

Sport fishers are finding snook and redfish — limited by the red tide to catch-and-release only — in good numbers throughout the shallow grass flats of southern Tampa Bay.

Moving to slightly deeper grass flats is yielding respectable numbers of spotted seatrout, as well as Spanish mackerel and mangrove snapper.

Speaking of snapper, anglers fishing large structure — such as the Sunshine Skyway Bridge — are cashing in. Limits of snapper 12-15 inches are readily coming to the hook. While fishing this structure, you can count on catching other species, too. Spanish mackerel, bluefish and large jack crevalle add variety to the Skyway bite.

On my Southernaire fishing charters, I’m counting on putting mangrove snapper in the cooler. Fishing residential docks, as well as artificial reefs and rock piles, is yielding good results.

After putting a few limits of snapper in the box, I’m moving to the grass flats to target spotted seatrout. Most trout catches are just under-slot, but patience is a virtue — I’m finding larger trout in the mix if we stay on the spot.

Lastly, the catch-and-release snook and redfish bite is quite good for those who just want to bend a rod.

Capt. Warren Girle is working in southern Tampa Bay, which is resulting in a variety of species for his anglers.

Fishing around structure is yielding the best action. Using live shiners as bait, he’s attracting numerous mangrove snapper to the hook, which put up a good fight on light tackle and are excellent on the plate.

Structure is host to a variety of migratory fish — bluefish, Spanish mackerel and jack crevalle.

Moving to the grass flats, Girle is finding spotted seatrout in moderate numbers. Free-lined shiners under a popping cork are producing the bite.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says anglers are catching mangrove snapper on live shrimp. Most catches are 11-12 inches, although fish up to 15 inches are being reeled to the deck, too.

While targeting snapper with shrimp, anglers are hooking into sheepshead and redfish.

Casting shrimp away from the pier is resulting in some prize catches of pompano and permit, as well as jack crevalle and Spanish mackerel.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is targeting catch-and-release snook around Terra Ceia Bay with good results for his clients. Free-lining live shiners along mangrove shorelines is producing good action on fish 20-30 inches.

Catch-and-release redfish also are being caught with Lowman, with most catches occurring around docks and oyster beds.

While targeting reds on the docks, Lowman’s charters are coming up with limits of mangrove snapper — perfect for the anglers who want fish for dinner.

Lastly, deeper grass flats are holding spotted seatrout in decent numbers. Casting live shiners over these flats is resulting in numerous hookups.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is finding a mixed bag on his charters. Shallower water reefs in Tampa Bay are host to a number of species, including Spanish mackerel, bluefish, mangrove snapper and small sharks. Free-lined shiners on a 1/0 Aberdeen hook are working great for this bite.

Catch-and-release snook action is occurring on the shallow grass flats. Most are 20-26 inches, but a large female on the hook can surprise the unwary angler.

Spotted seatrout are present in the deep grass flats, although most catches are in the barely legal range at 15 inches. Larger trout are mixed in for persistent anglers.

Capt. Jason Stock is finding grouper fishing is a great choice to keep his clients busy. Although finding clean water in the Gulf of Mexico is requiring a run offshore of 15 miles or more, catching a limit of grouper makes it worthwhile. Both gag and red grouper are being caught on live and frozen baits.

Fishing wrecks offshore is yielding some great permit action for Stock. Casting live pass crabs to fish sunning on the surface is resulting in numerous hookups. Moving inshore, Stock is targeting catch-and-release snook and redfish for sport fishers, and he’s also hooking some jack crevalle.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is finding numerous catch-and-release snook and a redfish bite while fishing the shallower grass flats of southern Tampa Bay. Fishing structure in the bay is resulting in limits of mangrove snapper, as well as all the Spanish mackerel his clients can catch. Live free-lined shiners are working for the macks. As for the snapper, a live shiner on a knocker rig works just fine, White said.

            Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

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