Fishing around Anna Maria Island is getting downright hot — and the bite is pretty good, too.
With temperatures in the low to mid-90s, it’s in your best interest to wear the proper attire if you plan to fish all day. SPF-rated clothing is helpful in keeping the burn off your skin and a hat and polarized sunglasses also are beneficial.
Most important, drink plenty of water. Hydration is vital for a day on the water. Plan your fishing trips around the heat to win the day. It’s better for you and the bite to fish early mornings or late evenings.
As for the fishing, the inshore bite is being dominated by tarpon. Sport anglers young and old are coming out of the woodwork with hopes of hooking a silver king.
Those not impressed with the grand stake of the tarpon bite are venturing onto the flats of Tampa with a target of catch-and-release snook. Impressive numbers of linesiders are staging up on the flats to feed ahead of their upcoming mating season. In some spots, hookups of 30-40 snook in the morning are happening. When you’re bored with the snook bite, catch-and-release spotted seatrout are targetable. Try fishing deep grass flats where good tidal flow and clear, clean water exists.
With the arrival of the hatch bait — baby shiners — mangrove snapper will be on the menu again soon enough. In the next couple of weeks, it will be worth checking out your favorite inshore snapper spots to score some of these tasty fish. Since snook, redfish and trout remain closed for harvest, it’s nice to bring home some fish for the fry pan.
Moving offshore, American red snapper are the highlight. Limits of these aggressive snappers are being caught on live and frozen bait. The guides are reporting gag and red grouper also are being caught offshore in decent numbers.
On my Southernaire charters, I’m finding good action for clients on catch-and-release snook and trout. Both species are biting in good numbers, especially during outgoing tides. Many keeper-size snook are coming to the hook, which is a welcome sight. While targeting the snook, I’m seeing a few redfish in the mix. As for the trout, I’m seeing a lot of catches 18-22 inches. While targeting the trout, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and jacks are mixed in the bite. Lastly, I’m excited to start targeting mangrove snapper for my clients. It’s time to sharpen the fillet knife.
Capt. Warren Girle is pursuing the tarpon bite along the beaches. He’s targeting schools of tarpon during morning and afternoon tides and finding they are readily taking baits. His clients are attracting the silver kings with live crabs and threadfin hearing, and the catches are averaging 80-150 pounds.
On days when the winds are pushing too hard to target tarpon, Girle is working the flats of Sarasota Bay for the catch-and-release trio — snook, redfish and spotted seatrout. For the reds and snook, live baits such as shiners are working well. For the trout, soft plastics on a jig head will do.
Capt. Aaron Lowman is venturing into the Gulf of Mexico to target a variety of species. Bottom fishing around artificial reefs and hard bottom areas is yielding mangrove snapper, Key West grunts and numerous juvenile groupers for his clients. Flounder are taking the bait in the same spots and casting free-lined baits is producing action on bonito and some Spanish mackerel.
Moving into Tampa Bay, Lowman is targeting catch-and-release trout and snook with a few redfish coming to the party.
And for the anglers with strong arms and big coolers, Lowman is leading them to some large keeper-size gag grouper around inshore wrecks and rock piles.
Capt. Jason Stock is taking clients to their limits of American red snapper on runs offshore in the Gulf of Mexico and they’re also reeling up keeper-size gag and red grouper.
Moving inshore, Stock is hunting tarpon and large sharks. The tarpon are cooperating nicely, eating live baits — crabs and threadfin hearing. As for the sharks, large baits — jack crevalle and mullet —are attracting attention. The most common species taking the bait are bull sharks.
Capt. David White also is pursuing tarpon along the beaches and in the passes of Anna Maria Island and Egmont Key and casting live crabs or threadfin herring are resulting in hookups for his clients.
Moving offshore, White is targeting American red snapper, as well as red and gag grouper. Mangrove and yellowtail snapper also are coming to the boat — and the cooler — on his offshore trips.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says there’s a variety of fish being caught during the morning and afternoon hours at the pier on the north end of AMI. Fishers using live shrimp as bait are hooking into catch-and-release snook and redfish with some regularity and some mangrove snapper are being caught on live shrimp, too.
Spanish mackerel are beginning to show up in better numbers since the bait schools returned to the pier. Casting Gotcha plugs or silver spoons is attracting these tasty fish to bite. Mixed in with the mack bite are some ladyfish, blue runners and jack crevalle.
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