Wednesday September 3, 2003


Cobia start to appear; reds in backwater, good snook season start

Cobia are starting to come back, with several reports of the big fish being boated this week. Redfish are still thick, big and hungry and a great choice for those who want to catch those big spotties.

Snook season opened Monday, and there are already excellent reports of good-sized linesiders being brought in with some stretching the tape to 34 inches.

Offshore action is really picking up with grouper and snapper, although most guides are finding the best catches a little farther out than normal, in the 100-foot-plus depths.

And mackerel continue to be a mainstay near the beaches.

Lee Gause at Perico Harbor Bait & Tackle said snook, trout and redfish are the hot tickets in Palma Sola Bay. He's finding some good-sized snook at Beer Can Island, plus mackerel off the beaches and offshore action for grouper is still good in the 100-foot depths.

Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he's getting his clients onto lots of redfish to 28 inches in length in Sarasota Bay, trout to 17 inches and lots of the first keeper-size snook of the season.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said offshore fishing action is really picking up every day, with good reports of grouper and snapper in a little better than 100 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico. There are a few reports of cobia catches, he said, and mackerel action continues to be steady and great near the beaches and in Tampa Bay. Inshore action for redfish is red-hot right now, with most of the guides reporting limit-catches of spotties on every trip.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said there are lots of redfish being caught in Miguel Bay and coolers-full of trout and mackerel are coming back with anglers fishing in front of Terra Ceia Bay. He hasn't seen any keeper snook brought back to the dock - yet - but the season just started.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he's getting into 20 or more redfish on each trip out, plus some legal-size snook on opening day Monday. He's also catching lots of legal-size mackerel near the rocks off the beaches in the Gulf.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said mackerel on the artificial-reef systems are a wonderful hit right now, and he's starting to find cobia showing up. Redfish continue to be a best bet in the bays, he added.

Capt. Matt Denham on the Rip-Tide out of Catchers said he's starting to have to run a little farther out in the Gulf to get into the big grouper and snapper. In that 160-foot depth, he's finding red grouper to 26 pounds, mangrove, lane and yellowtail snapper to 6 pounds, plus a few dolphin.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's said he's getting lots of mangrove snapper to 16 inches, trout to 22 inches and reds up to 30 inches. Flounder fishing is starting to get better every day, he added, plus snook season started with a real loud bang with lots of keeper-size linesiders reeled in on opening day.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said fishers there are catching lots of big redfish, big black drum, some small mackerel, mangrove snapper, cobia and snook.

Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier reports anglers there are catching lots of Spanish mackerel, good-size snook at night, a few mangrove snapper, plus lots of yellowtails, pompano and trout.

On my boat Magic, we were able to make it out only one time last week, but caught more than 20 reds, several small snook and trout to 23 inches.

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 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.



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