Tarpon action picking up by the day
Suzette Schon caught more than she expected last week - a huge tarpon caught off the beach at 72nd Street in Holmes Beach. Fishing at night with a mullet as bait, she caught the silver king and, with help from Rob Dellenger, fought the fish for more than two hours before getting it close enough to shore for a couple of pictures before letting it loose.
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Here's the hit parade for this week: Tarpon, permit and cobia.
Silver kings are finally starting to start coming onto the bait, with reports of 80- and 100-pound fish coming in. Permit are thick around the offshore reefs, and there are good cobia reports as well.
Backwater fishing for big trout continues, as well as catch-and-release snook, but redfish action is still slow.
And for those willing to get a little farther offshore, there are some sailfish that are willing to be jumped.
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he's finding lots of big trout in Terra Ceia Bay, as well as catch-and-release snook, but redfish are still hard to hook.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said trolling for the pelagics is starting to produce real - reel? - results. Hot action reports are coming in on catches of wahoo, dolphin and even a few sailfish out in the Gulf of Mexico. Bottom fishing for grouper and snapper has moved farther offshore into the 80-foot depths. Closer to the Island, tarpon fishing is starting to really pick up, with some silver kings being hooked at better than 100 pounds - and one large catch from the beach. There are also some good reports of really big trout coming in from the backwater.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said he's back from open heart surgery and is feeling fine. Fishing is fine, too, with good catches of redfish. Permit are all around the pier, and tarpon too, but they don't seem to want to come close to a hook - yet.
Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said anglers there are catching lots of mackerel, big yellowtail jacks, a few flounder, barracuda and cobia. There was one tarpon hookup last week that made it to the dock before being released, and the silver kings are really starting to work the water around the dock.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said tarpon are moving around the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, with mackerel still around the rocks in front of Terra Ceia Bay. Redfish up to 27 inches are being caught in Terra Ceia Bay, and big trout are apparently hungry near the deeper seagrass flats in the backwater.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he's catching lots of permit off the artificial reefs, plus mackerel, snapper and some good-size grouper offshore. Inshore action includes lots of big trout and some redfish, with some cobia.
At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, permit appear to be pretty thick at the 3- and 7-mile reefs offshore. Tarpon are working along the beaches, in the passes and near the Skyway. Cobia are moving through the seagrass flats in the bays, as well as snook, trout and redfish starting to hang out in the potholes in the backwater. Offshore, grouper and snapper fishers are doing well in the 80-foot depths.
Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said he's catching permit and some cobia, with a few catches of better than 40 pounds. Backwater fishing continues to be good for catch-and-release snook, redfish and trout.
Capt. Sam Kimball on Legend charters out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said he's catching a few errant kingfish, mackerel, bonito to 12 pounds, permit to 25 pounds, triggerfish and banded rudderfish. He's also finding snapper fishing to still be good.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's said he's catching trout to 24 inches, redfish to 28 inches, catch-and-release snook to 32 inches, as well as bluefish, ladyfish, Spanish mackerel and a few keeper-size grouper.
On my boat Magic, we caught one 80-pound tarpon last week, as well as trout to 24 inches, redfish to 27 inches and lots of mackerel.
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.