Fishing around Anna Maria Island remains consistent despite some of the hottest weather of the summer.
With temperatures sizzling in the mid to upper 90s and heat indices in the range of 110 degrees, anglers should time their fishing excursions around the cooler periods of the day. Fishing from dawn until 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. and after sunset into late evening will be more comfortable, even if the temps are only slightly cooler.
You’ll notice, especially while inshore fishing, that the fish react better during cooler times, too.
And, remember to drink plenty of water while outdoors to avoid heat stroke or dehydration.
Anglers braving the heat are experiencing excellent fishing in the back country of Tampa Bay. Casting live shiners around mangrove shorelines and oyster bars is yielding good action on catch-and-release snook. Catch-and-release redfish also are present and mixed in with the snook bite. Fishing deeper grass for catch-and-release spotted seatrout is a good bet. Slot-size trout are showing in decent numbers. Lucky anglers are even catching a few over-slot fish.
You can also cash in on Spanish mackerel and mangrove snapper on the deeper grass, which are good to take home for dinner.
Offshore fishing is in full swing with positive reports of American red, mangrove and yellowtail snappers. Fishing depths of 60-100 feet of water seems to be the “sweet spot” for the snappers, as well as permit and African pompano.
Now a serious note: I’m sorry to report what I suspect is a bloom of blue-green algae. On a recent trip to where the Braden and Manatee rivers intersect, I noticed something I thought would never occur in our area. The river waters are brackish — part saltwater and part freshwater.
A telltale sign of brackish water is its color. Typically, it’s a dark color ranging from light amber to almost something similar to iced tea. Well, the water has the color of neon green.
Now, I don’t claim to be a scientist or marine biologist. I’m just a humble charter fisherman from Bradenton. Still, I know what I saw.
Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, is an alga that occurs in fresh and brackish water habitats. Factors that contribute to blooms include warm temperatures, reduced water flow and circulation and an increase in nutrients. I know that the warm water and reduced water flow exist in the affected area of the Braden River, but in 40 years of living in Bradenton, I’ve never seen this neon green phenomenon.
It’s left me wondering about a possible increase in nutrients.
Phosphorus is the nutrient that triggers blue-green algae to thrive. And phosphorous is in fertilizer.
Furthermore, I suspect development along the Braden and upper Manatee rivers in exponential numbers in the past 10 years could be a factor.
I only know that with the number of new housing developments and a plethora of golf courses, it seems a logical assumption. Lawns don’t get to be green and lush on their own.
Why is it that I’ve not seen blue-green algae before and now, after this surplus of populated areas around the Braden River, I see a bloom. Since the rivers flow to the Intracoastal Waterway and the Gulf of Mexico, what can we expect in the coming weeks?
Is it time to re-examine our laws and regulations on the development of areas where watersheds and estuaries meet?
Are we forgetting the pristine waters, lush flora and prolific fauna are why we live in Florida?
Without, we are left with just “the heat.” And sure, Floridians don’t mind the heat so much, but it’s all the beauty that really makes it tolerable.
It brings tears to my eyes to imagine all the fish, birdlife and mammals that could suffer due to another algae bloom.
Florida is my home. I love it like no other place on Earth. And, as a charter captain, the water is my livelihood. I have developed a deep passion and intimate relationship with it since I was a child.
I am outraged to see this occurring.
This problem needs to be addressed. And promptly, I might add.
On the water
Back to fishing. Capt. Warren Girle is working the flats of Tampa Bay for catch-and-release snook and trout. Casting live shiners over shallow grass flats where mangroves exist is resulting in numerous hookups on the catch-and-release snook.
Moving slightly deeper and away from shore is where Girle is finding the trout. Again, live shiners are doing the trick. Fishing structure in Tampa Bay is yielding results.
Bottom fishing is attracting mangrove snapper and gag grouper. Also, present around structure, are Spanish mackerel and a few jack crevalle.
Capt. Aaron Lowman is targeting gag grouper in Tampa Bay. Using live bait or trolling deep-diving lures around bridges, wrecks and rock piles is resulting in some keeper-size fish. Mangrove snapper, flounder and mackerel are present in the same areas.
Moving to shallower water, Lowman is targeting the catch-and-release trio of snook, redfish and trout. For the snook and reds, casting shiners up against mangrove shorelines is producing the bite. As for the trout, working grass areas in 3-5 feet of water is a good bet.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says mangrove snapper are making a showing, and drifting live shrimp under the pier is resulting in keeper-size fish. Most are 10-12 inches with larger catches in the mix.
Spanish mackerel are being caught by anglers casting silver spoons from the pier to the large bait schools. This method also is producing jack crevalle and ladyfish. Catch-and-release snook remains an attraction at the pier, where fishers using stout gear and large baits are reeling up snook in the 40-inch range.
Capt. Jason Stock is reporting offshore catches of American red snapper and red grouper. Live and frozen baits are producing action, especially around ledges and hard bottom. Also present in these areas: yellowtail snapper and African pompano.
Fishing offshore wrecks also is producing action on permit on casts of live crabs. Lastly, Stock warns that sharks, barracuda and goliath grouper are in abundance offshore, where they’re being hooked as bycatch.
Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is pursuing tarpon early mornings along the beaches and late evenings in the passes. Live crabs are producing the best bite, especially during the evening outgoing tides.
On the flats, White is enjoying catch-and-release snook action while free-lining live shiners against mangrove shorelines. He also says fishing shallow water structure in Tampa Bay is heating up for mangrove snapper and Spanish mackerel.
Lastly, fishing offshore over hard bottom and ledges is resulting in American red snapper, as well as some hefty mangrove and yellowtail snappers, and red grouper is showing up in the same areas.
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