Fishing around Anna Maria Island is producing a variety of action for those willing to brave heat and thunder storms.
Inshore fishing in Tampa Bay is host to all sorts of species, depending of your preference.
Fishing wrecks, rock piles and reefs is producing mangrove snapper and Spanish mackerel, as well as a few gag grouper. Moving to shallow water is good, especially for catch-and-release snook and spotted seatrout.
Moving offshore to around 120 feet of water, the American red snapper bite is in full swing. Also while offshore, deep-water anglers are catching gag and red grouper, as well as yellowtail and mangrove snapper.
Fishing along the beaches for tarpon is producing a few hookups, although your best bet is fishing the evening outgoing tides in the passes at Bean Point and Egmont Key.
Now, in reference to the heat, I cannot stress enough the importance of being prepared for a day of fishing. With some days having a heat index exceeding 110 degrees, you need to make darn sure you’re ready for the high temps and the sun’s rays.
Using an ample amount of sunscreen is a wise choice. I use 100 SPF to block the sun’s harmful rays and reapply often. I also wear a hat, polarized glasses and a long-sleeve shirt to shield me from the sun. Next, you want to make sure you have an ample supply of water and stay hydrated. There’s nothing worse than getting dehydrated while out in the sun all day. And staying hydrated is not the easiest thing to do, since most other beverages don’t do the job.
Lastly, try to plan your day accordingly. If you plan on being out all day, factor in a break so you can get out of the sun and cool down. You’ll be amazed at what an hour in the shade with a cool glass of water will do to keep your motor in tune.
Ultimately, the key is to stay hydrated and enjoy fishing without heat stroke or severe sunburn.
On my Southernaire charters, I’m choosing to beat the heat by taking on morning charters. We’ve been leaving the dock at 7 a.m. and returning at 11 a.m., which is just enough of a dose of heat. Targeting catch-and-release snook and trout is producing consistent results and I’m starting to see a few keeper mangrove snapper in the mix while targeting the sport fish.
Moving out to the wrecks and reefs in Tampa Bay, I’m finding mackerel and mangrove snapper, as well as some blacktip sharks and a few gag grouper.
Capt. Warren Girle is stirring up a handful of tarpon for his clients along the beaches and passes of Anna Maria Island and Egmont Key. Casting live crabs to schooling fish is getting the action. Fishing early morning, before sun up, and late evening on the outgoing tides is getting results.
Girle is routinely putting clients on macks and mangrove snapper. Using hatch bait or small shiners is working best for both.
Lastly, targeting catch-and-release snook on the flats is productive for anglers in tune with conservation.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing some hefty catch-and-release snook reeled up to the deck — and released. Pier fishers are finding success on the linesiders using live baits and artificials.
Live baits, such as pinfish, ladyfish or mojarras, work well, while artificials, such as the DOA Cal jig or the Yo-Zuri crystal minnow, will attract a bite. With the arrival of hatch bait, pier fishers are enjoying action on migratory predators — Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle and ladyfish. Other species, mangrove snapper and flounder, also are coming to the hook at the northernmost pier on AMI.
Capt. Aaron Lowman is finding luck with keeper-size gag grouper in Tampa Bay. Using live bait — pinfish or large shiners — around wrecks, rocks and channel edges is yielding action. Trolling large-lipped plugs is working in the same areas. When live bait fishing, Lowman’s clients are encountering macks, snapper and cobia.
On the flats, catch-and-release snook and trout are cooperating despite warm water temps. Fishing close to the mangroves is producing the snook, while casting bait to deeper grass flats in 5-6 feet of water is good for the trout.
Capt. Jason Stock is finding a good red snapper bite for his anglers. Fishing ledges and hard bottom offshore is resulting in limits of these abundant fish, and while targeting the snapper, he’s hooking up clients with red and gag grouper.
In slightly shallower water, Stock is targeting yellowtail and mangrove snapper on light tackle. Placing small shiners on a jig head and drifting them behind the boat is a good technique. Stock warns that you have to make haste when reeling up the fish, as many goliath grouper, sharks and barracuda are present, ready to take your catch.
Lastly, Stock is putting clients on tarpon on the evening tides.
Capt. David White, of Anna Maria Charters, is spending his days offshore patrolling for American red snapper. By using an assortment of baits — live pinfish, shiners, frozen sardines and fresh-cut pieces of mullet — White is putting his clients on fish for the cooler. Other species being caught offshore include red grouper, yellowtail, mangrove and lane snapper.
Moving inshore, White is hooking anglers up with catch-and-release snook along the mangroves. In Tampa Bay, sharks, Spanish mackerel and mangrove snapper are adding to the catch.
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