Kingfish starting to show, mackerel thick, snapper everywhere offshore
Dan Wessly, left, caught this 28-pound red grouper while out in the Gulf with Gus Swoboda on an all-day trip with Capt. Larry McGuire aboard the Show Me The Fish Charters.
Click on image to enlarge
Don't forget to sign up for the fishing school starting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 25. Joining me will be Capt. Rick Gross, Capt. Thom Smith and Capt. Larry McGuire to talk about where, when and how to catch fish using live and artificial lures, plus tips and techniques for bottom fishing and trolling.
There will be lots of free prizes and fishing lures, a door prize for a charter trip, and an Islander "More Than A Mullet Wrapper" T-shirt for paid attendees.
The school will be held at Fire Station No. 1, 6001 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Pre-register at The Islander, 5404 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.
Cost is $35 per person, kids under age 16 admitted free with a paid adult. Call 778-7978 for more information.
On the fishing scene this week, summertime fishing is starting to appear. Whitebait is starting to make a good showing, and redfish, trout and snook are all hungry in the backwaters.
Offshore fishing for snapper is superb right now, and grouper action is excellent in less than 100 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico. Mackerel are thick, and a few kingfish are starting to make their run along the coast.
Sheepshead fishing is about at its peak right now, with reports of some catches to better than 7 pounds.
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he's doing well with snook on artificial baits, with some good-size keepers coming back on most trips. He's also finding plenty of mackerel and trout.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said summertime fishing appears to be here, with good reports of snook being caught. Whitebait is starting to show up on the seagrass flats, and sheepshead are still everywhere. Offshore fishing for snapper is excellent right now, and grouper are still in less than 100 feet of water in the Gulf.
Capt. Larry McGuire aboard the Show Me The Fish Charters said, "The fishin' is heatin' up!" Grouper fishing is getting better and better as the month of March goes on, he said, and he's been putting his clients onto red grouper to 28 pounds, gag grouper to 12 pounds, limit catches of mangrove snapper to 5 pounds, and also yellowtail snapper, lane snapper, hog snapper, scamp, triggerfish and a few amberjack. Most of the action is in about 110 feet of water, with good results with live pinfish, live shrimp and frozen sardines, as well as some squid.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said there were lots and lots of sheepshead in the 4-pound range caught last week off the dock. Mackerel are a good bet in the afternoons, with some up to 29 inches, plus some small flounder and small snook in the mornings.
Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said fishers there are catching some nice mackerel to 4 pounds, sheepshead to 5 pounds, snapper around the pilings and snook at night.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said lots of black drum are being caught near the old railroad bridge in the Manatee River, with blood worms working the best as bait. Some big snook showed up in the cut this week, he said, and Spanish mackerel are being caught near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge pier systems, plus lots of sheepshead.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said mackerel are everywhere right now, plus he's putting his charters onto sheepshead to 6 pounds and snook action is picking up now that the water temperature is finally starting to warm.
Capt. Tom Chaya said he's getting a good mixed-bag of fish: redfish, mackerel, snapper and sheepshead were all caught by his charters last week.
At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, redfish reports are coming in from the sandy spots amidst the seagrass flats by wade fishers, although it seems that there is only one red per hole being caught. Trout are starting to bet bigger, and sheepies are around almost every piling and pier in the area.
Capt. Sam Kimball on Legend charters out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said snapper fishing is awesome in about 100 feet of water in the Gulf, plus good action on porgies, triggerfish, grunts, a few kingfish and lots of mackerel.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's said he's getting his charters onto trout to 23 inches, redfish to 24 inches, plus mackerel, pompano and sheepshead. He's finding kingfish just starting to show up offshore as well.
On my boat Magic, we have been catching lots and lots of sheepies of up to better than 7 pounds, plus mangrove snapper, a few trout and redfish on most trips.
Good luck and good fishing.
Capt. Mike Heistand is a 20-year fishing guide. Call him at 779-9607 to provide a fishing report. Prints and digital images of your catch are also welcome and may be dropped off at The Islander, 5404 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include identification for persons in the picture along with information on the catch and a name and phone number for more information. Snapshots may be retrieved once they appear in the paper.