Despite daily thunderstorms and frequent windy days caused by Tropical Storm Cindy’s northward movement in the Gulf of Mexico, fishing around Anna Maria Island is managing to put smiles on visiting and local anglers alike.
Fishing inshore is slightly challenging, although spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook are producing some decent action. Fishing structure in Tampa Bay south to Sarasota is resulting in mangrove snapper, as well as numerous juvenile grouper. Flounder also are present in these areas, and are being caught by lucky anglers.
Moving offshore, fishing ledges and reefs is proving to be quite good, although due to windy days and rough seas, windows of opportunity to get out to these bites are limited. Reports of African pompano, yellowtail and mangrove snapper are frequent, as well as shark, bonito and permit.
On Southernaire charters, the bite has been on and off. On calm days, I’m venturing with my anglers out to wrecks and reefs, which is providing a great bite for mangrove snapper and flounder. On windy days, we’re staying on the flats, which is proving to be great for catch-and-release snook. Days of 30-40 snook in a two-hour session can be common. As for other fishing on those windy days, I’m finding spotted seatrout, although the bite is spotty, and not because the trout have spots. Using smaller shiners is producing the best action when these fish become finicky. Luckily, there are jack crevalle, ladyfish and Spanish mackerel present in the same areas to fill the lengthy gap between trout bites.
Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is working offshore on days when the seas are calm. Using large shiners or pinfish as bait, White is hooking into red grouper, American red snapper, mangrove snapper and African pompano. Also, plus-size jack crevalle are being caught, which are excellent to target on the fly.
Moving inshore, White is putting his clients on tarpon in the passes during strong morning tides, where pass crabs are the bait of choice. Fish 80-100 pounds are average, with larger silver kings possible.
Capt. Jason Stock is running his charters offshore with good results. On days when the winds are light and Gulf waters calm, Stock is venturing out to depths of 60-100 feet of water to search for variety. Mangrove and yellowtail snapper are predominant around ledges. Small shiners on a bottom rig are enticing these tasty fish to bite. Around artificial reefs and wrecks, Stock is finding goliath grouper and big sharks to keep his clients busy.
Moving inshore, Stock is hooking clients up with tarpon along the beaches and passes. Small crabs or threadfin herring are attracting the bite. He’s finding tarpon in the 80-120 pound range.
Capt. Aaron Lowman is working at the nearshore ledges, resulting in good action for his clients. Red grouper up to 10 pounds are being caught on live pinfish combined with a bottom rig. Also present in these areas are mangrove snapper, Spanish mackerel, bonito and sharks.
In the backcountry, Lowman is finding spotted seatrout in areas where the water is clear and the tidal flow is swift. Free-lined live shiners are the bait of choice here.
Capt. Warren Girle is taking his anglers to the nearshore reefs for mangrove snapper and permit. For the snapper, small shiners on a bottom rig are attracting attention from the 12-18 inch snappers. As for the permit, a small pass crab placed in front of the fish’s nose is sure to be eaten. Permit in the 10-pound range are average.
Moving inshore, Girle is chasing tarpon along the beaches of Anna Maria Island. Some morning excursions are resulting in as many as five or six hookups. Fish in the 120-pound range are average.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing numerous snook cruising in the shallows at the base of the pier as well as along the beach all the way to Bean Point. Most of these fish are schooley-sized, ranging 20-26 inches, although every so often a large female is spotted. For the smaller snook, free-lined live shiners are resulting in hookups. For fish exceeding 30 inches, the same bait will work, although larger baits such as pinfish, mojarras or even small ladyfish will trigger a strike from this catch-and-release fighter.
Other action on the R&R includes jack crevalle, redfish and flounder. For the reds and flounder, pier anglers are casting baits along the perimeter of the pier or directly under the boards. As for the jacks, jigs and spoons will do the trick.
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