Weather, fishing patterns change daily — plan accordingly

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Luke and Alisa Conzet, visiting the area from Maple Grove, Minnesota, show off a 30-inch redfish caught in the Manatee River on a fishing charter with Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business.
Aaron West Minnesota, shows off a 3-pound sheepshead. The Conzets and West caught their fish on live shrimp pinned on a jighead while working the waters in the Manatee River with Capt. Gross.
John Wong, visiting Anna Maria Island from Campbell River, British Columbia, shows off one of a handful of nice sheepshead he caught Jan. 6 while on a guided fishing trip with Capt. Aaron Lowman. Lowman said Wong used live shrimp on light tackle to “fool the convicts in Tampa Bay into taking his hook.”

Fishing around Anna Maria Island is about as predictable as the weather.

When the seas are calm, anglers are venturing into the Gulf of Mexico to target snappers, groupers and hogfish.

When the cold fronts come, the wind blows and the Gulf is too rough, it is time to move inshore to target sheepshead, black drum and redfish around inshore reefs, bridges, docks and canals.

On my Southernaire excursions, I am watching wind patterns and choosing my fishing spots accordingly.

When the wind blows, I’m working residential docks and canals, where clients are hooking up black drum and catch-and-release redfish. This type of fishing is always good to do on cold, windy mornings when getting around in open water can be less than comfortable.

When the winds are calm, I’m working the beaches and my clients are jigging for pompano. Also, around the beaches are bonnethead sharks, which are fun fighters, as they are feisty on light spinning tackle.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is taking clients to work the nearshore deep grass flats. Trout, ladyfish, bluefish and pompano are readily taking the hook for Lowman’s clients.

After fishing the flats, Lowman is moving to structure, including docks and seawalls, to focus on sheepshead, black drum, redfish and mangrove snapper.

Lowman reports the nearshore bite slowed down this past week due to inconsistent weather patterns, but he’s finding plenty of grunts, hogfish and snapper to keep his clients busy and the coolers topped off.

On calm days, when he’s able to venture into the Gulf of Mexico, Lowman reports catches of tripletail are topping the chart.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is sticking inshore due to the recent windy days. He is finding success with sheepshead, as they are on the move, thanks to the cold. Also, White is having luck when targeting black drum and pompano.

As a bonus, White is putting his fly fishing clients on tripletail.

Capt. Jason Stock reports excellent catches so far in 2020 on a variety of species. The show-stealers are giant amberjack, which are coming in at weights reaching 125 pounds. Big gag grouper — which became catch-and-release Dec. 31 — blackfin tuna, bonito mangrove snapper and hogfish are accommodating to his clients. Red grouper are taking the hook, but they are closed past depths of 120 feet.

Hamilton Brown at the Rod & Reel Pier reports anglers dropping live shrimp under the pier deck are hooking into a variety of species, including sheepshead, flounder, whiting and catch-and-release redfish.

Brown reports mackerel are being caught on speck rigs, Gotcha plugs and silver spoons when cast away from the pier and retrieved quickly.

Capt. Warren Girle is working the deeper grass flats for catch-and-release trout. While on the trout bite, Girle’s clients are hooking into ladyfish, bluefish jacks and, an added bonus, pompano. Live shrimp under a popping cork or goofy jigs tipped with fresh-cut shrimp are working for all species mentioned.

Dock fishing with live shrimp is attracting black drum, sheepshead and catch-and-release redfish according to Girle.

Capt. Danny Stasny had a medical emergency in the past week and wife Rebekka took over and compiled his report from the information provided by the local guides.

Thanks to Rebekka!

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