Wednesday September 17, 2003


If you can name it, you can probably catch it right now

Red to be proud of Eric Henning of Tampa caught and released this 31-inch redfish while fishing with Capt. Tom Chaya of Dolphin Dreams Charters in Holmes Beach.
Late-summer fishing is in full swing right now, with almost anything you would want to catch just waiting for the right-size hook.

Grouper have moved farther out into the Gulf of Mexico, in the 100-foot depths, and there are also good reports of snapper and some tuna, wahoo and mahi-mahi.

Mackerel are still pretty thick along the beach, and pier reports of sharks are also coming in.

Backwater fishers report excellent catches of redfish and snook right now, as well as a few flounder.

I was even able to put a charter onto a small tarpon in Terra Ceia Bay last week.

Expect the fishing to continue to be good for at least another month.

Lee Gause at Perico Harbor Bait & Tackle said wade fishers are catching a few redfish, while boating anglers report good mixed-bag catches, although it's taking some time and effort. Offshore grouper seem to be even farther offshore right now, in the 100-foot-plus depths.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said fishing is in its normal summertime mode right now, with good reports of snook and redfish coming in but trout running small.

Offshore grouper action is good right now, but the fish are in deeper water. Gag and red grouper are running to 30 pounds, but you've got to get out into about 160 feet of water to get the big ones, Bill said, adding that there are also reports coming from 'way out there of dolphin, wahoo and tuna.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said lots of redfish are coming to the docks right now, plus a few keeper-size snook, black drum up to 10 pounds coming from the cut, and flounder are starting to appear with more frequency.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said it's "catch-what-you-want time" right now: snook to 32 inches in length, oversize redfish, limit catches of mackerel on almost every trip, plus mangrove snapper.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said he's getting into lots of mackerel along the beaches, plus redfish and snook in the bays on the higher tides.

Capt. Matt Denham on the Rip-Tide out of Catchers said he's catching red and gag grouper on almost every trip out in the Gulf right now, and for those who want to go really far out there are good catches of Warsaw grouper. He's also filling the coolers with yellowtail, mangrove and lane snapper up to 5 pounds.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said he's finding fishing action to be better than normal, with snook, redfish, trout, flounder, and mackerel making up most of his catches last week.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said fishers there are catching lots of big reds, big snook, small mackerel, whiting, pompano, a few permit, and one good-sized cobia was hooked and lost. One lucky angler also caught a 27-inch-long gag grouper and brought it to the deck.

Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said they're reeling in mackerel, small bonnethead and blacktip sharks, some legal-size snook at night, lots of yellowtail jacks and a few flounder and snapper.

On my boat Magic, we have been catching several keeper-size snook, lots of smaller linesiders and several too big to keep. We caught more than a dozen redfish on one trip last week, all within the slot limit, plus a little 15-pound tarpon in Terra Ceia Bay.

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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