Ethan Dennis, 14, visiting grandfather Bob Ripley from his home in Grand Rapids, Mich., underwent a heartbreaking fish tale when he caught this 30-inch redfish - three inches bigger than the allowed slot limit. Instead of being added to the dinner table, the big red was released after the picture was taken. Ethan caught the fish on the bayside of Bean Point using a sand flea as bait.
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Kingfish moving through offshore; trout thick in backwater
Despite the cooler weather and rough seas for a few days last week, fishing continues to be great both in the Gulf of Mexico and in the bays.
Offshore action for kingfish, mackerel and the occasional cobia is good. Bottom fishing for snapper and grouper is excellent, and look at all the sailfish action that's coming in from not all that far offshore!
Backwater angling is excellent for trout, redfish and snook right now and, with whitebait being so plentiful, it's no wonder the nearshore action is so hot.
By the way, don't forget that the 19th Annual Kids Free Fishing Tournament on the Green Bridge Pier is scheduled for May 7. It is a catch-and-release tournament sponsored by the Manatee-Sarasota Fish & Game Club, held on the pier in Palmetto. Entry and lunch are provided free, all children from the ages of 7 to 14 are eligible to fish, and baits, hooks and sinkers are provided free and, although each child should his or her own rod, loaner rods and reels are available on request. An adult must accompany all children. Prizes will be awarded for the first three places in each age group along with lots of raffle prizes.
Register at the pier from 7 to 8 a.m. the day of the tournament.
Volunteers and donated merchandise for prizes are needed and appreciated, and information is available at 794-2806.
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he and his charters caught snook to 27 inches, redfish to 26 inches and plenty of trout, all using both artificial and live bait.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said snook fishing is good, redfish action is between good to excellent, and trout catches are nothing short of superb for all backwater anglers. Offshore fishers of bottom fish like grouper and snapper are finding lots of good action in about 100 feet of water. For the trolling angler, mackerel and kingfish are filling the coolers still.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said fishing has been good of late, with some keeper-size snook being caught, plus redfish, sheepshead, pompano and some big amberjack. No mackerel of late, though, Bob said.
Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said snook are a good bet at night, plus sheepshead, mackerel and yellowtail jacks during the day. Cliff said action is picking up daily and now is definitely the time to go fishing.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said there are big snook being caught in the cut. Terra Ceia Bay is producing lots of large spawning trout, and there are still a few sheepshead being reeled in from near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said one of his charters hooked up with a 37-inch snook last week, plus redfish that are plentiful enough to produce limit-catches on almost every trip out. He's also catching lots of big trout right now.
At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, wade fishers are pulling in lots of big trout to 24 inches. A good hit for the bigger fish is the sand holes just south of the Anna Maria Island Bridge on lower tides. Other action includes mackerel near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
At Skyway Bait and Tackle, reports include a few sheepshead and mackerel on the Skyway fishing piers. In Terra Ceia Bay, reports are good for redfish.
Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said on the calmer days, when he can get out into the Gulf, he's reeling in lots and lots of mackerel, bluefish and cobia. Backwater action remains excellent, with trout being the best bet, but snook and reds are still a good bet, he said.
Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said kingfish action "has been fantastic this past week. Our clients have been catching school kings to 30 pounds, true black grouper to 10 pounds, mangrove snapper to 5 pounds, blacktip sharks to 6 feet, barracuda to 5 feet, as well as red grouper, scamp, and triggerfish. As we have been fishing for grouper and snapper, we put out a chum block to chum up large schools of kingfish to the back of the boat. We have been catching the kings on a variety of live baits, spoons and other artificial baits. We have been fishing out to 85 feet of water using live pinfish and Key West grunts, frozen Spanish sardines, squid and shrimp for the snapper."
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said fishing the Gulf was somewhat slow for him last week, but backwater action was excellent with keeper-size snook caught on almost every trip, plus redfish. Whitebait is really thick out there, he added.
On my boat Magic, we caught lots of snook to 28 inches in length. Lewis Christmaen of Terra Ceia Bay went out with us and caught nine redfish in as many casts one day last week, with most of the reds to 26 inches. We also caught trout to 24 inches.
Good luck and good fishing.
Capt. Mike Heistand is a 20-year-plus fishing guide. Call him at 723-1107 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.