Rain persists, anglers persevere in Anna Maria Island waters

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Capt. Aaron Lowman and Christie Bratcher of Brentwood, Tennessee, show off her 40-inch snook Sept. 11 before releasing it to fight again.
Gary Nelson of Sarasota shows off a snook caught inshore Sept. 16 using live shiners. Nelson and wife Janice were able to take home snapper for dinner and release the snook after a quick photo for bragging rights. They were guided to the fish by Capt. Warren Girle.

Dodging rain storms remained the trend for yet another week, while anglers working the waters around Anna Maria Island retain their eagerness to head out and try their luck hooking up some fish.

Keeping an eye on the weather forecast as well as an eye on the sky is imperative for fishers during hurricane season.

During the dry periods between the bands of rain spinning from Hurricane Sally — and then Beta — in the Gulf of Mexico, anglers hit the water and hunted some inshore fish.

Catch-and-release action for the inshore trio — snook, redfish and spotted seatrout — remains consistent, and fishing areas where good water flow is present is producing the best action. Casting live shiners on shallow grass flats is offering some great catch-and-release action on linesiders, and you may find some redfish mixed with the snook bite.

However, the reds are mostly being found around docks and oyster bars.

Catch-and-release spotted seatrout are biting with good frequency over the deeper grass areas. On the right flat, you may also find jack crevalle, ladyfish and Spanish mackerel mixed with the trout bite. Lucky anglers also are stumbling across mangrove snapper on these deep grass flats. The mangoes are a welcome sight on the end of the line as they allow an option to take some tasty fish home for dinner.

Fishing a little deeper in Tampa Bay, especially around the structure — reefs and rock piles — is yielding more tasty mangrove snapper. You might find a keeper gag grouper here or there, too. Spanish mackerel also are on patrol around structure in the bay and can be caught on a free-lined bait swimming on the surface.

Capt. Warren Girle is finding limits of mangrove snapper while fishing over deep grass areas in the bays. These deep grass flats — depths of 5 to 8 feet —are hosting numerous species, including jack crevalle, ladyfish, macks and catch-and-release seatrout. Adding snapper to this bite is quite appealing, as the action is nonstop and anglers get to take some fish home for a fish fry.

On the shallower grass flats close to shore, Girle has anglers casting live shiners to attract a bite. Catch-and-release species —snook and redfish —are readily taking baits in these areas during swift moving tides.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is finding good action inshore while fishing throughout Tampa Bay. He’s finding catch-and-release redfish and spotted seatrout are frequently taking bait on the shallow- to mid-depth flats around Terra Ceia Bay and in the mouth of the Manatee River.

The highlight of the shallow water fishing for one lucky client was a 40-inch snook and a trophy photo with the fish. Most linesiders are running 20-30 inches.

As for the trout and reds, 15 to 24 inches is the range.

For those looking to catch something for dinner, Lowman is working the structure in the bay for mangrove snapper. Also present around structure are Spanish mackerel and keeper-size gag grouper.

Capt. Johnny Mattay of Anna Maria Charters is finding numerous catch-and-release species — snook, redfish and trout — while fishing the waters of Tampa and Sarasota bays. Free-lining live shiners on a weighted rig is getting the job done. For the snook, casting free-lined baits over shallow flats around mangroves is working well. Casting free-lined shiners over deep flats is working well for seatrout as well as limits of mangrove snapper.

As for the reds, adding a little weight to the rig and casting shiners under docks seems to be the key to success, according to Mattay.

Fishing structure in Tampa Bay also is working on his search for mangrove snapper. Again a light bottom rig combined with a shiner is resulting in a bite.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says despite the water quality being cloudy from the rough surf in the Gulf of Mexico, the fishing is excellent at the R&R, where limits of mangrove snapper are being caught by anglers using live shrimp as bait. Those baiting shrimp are hooking into catch-and-release redfish and some keeper-size flounder.

Catch-and-release snook fishing is quite productive at the pier where live pinfish and shrimp are luring hungry linesiders to the hook.

On days when the bait schools are present, Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, ladyfish and blue runners are being caught on both live shrimp and artificials — jigs and spoons.

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