Tag Archives: Fishing

Inshore, offshore hookups remain as fall, cooler temps arrive

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Skip Tubbs, visiting Anna Maria Island from Montana, shows off a 28-inch catch-and-release snook, hooked up inshore Sept. 20 using a live shiner for bait. Tubbs was guided to the fish by Capt. Warren Girle.

With overnight and morning air temps in the low- to mid-70s, fishing around Anna Maria Island is getting better as we transition to fall.

Water temps are falling to the mid-70s, too, which is really getting the popular inshore trio of catch-and-release — snook, redfish and trout — species to start feeding heavily.

With an abundance of bait schools in Tampa Bay and along the beaches, we should begin to see an influx of migratory fish — Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle and ladyfish — for a showing. And don’t forget the snappers and groupers are arriving, too.

Inshore, mangrove snapper are being found on the flats and over structure in abundance. As for the grouper, gags are being caught in Tampa Bay with some regularity. Live bait presentations and trolling deep-diving plugs are working for these fish.

Moving offshore, reports of amberjack are becoming more frequent and snapper fishing, both yellowtails and mangroves, is quite good.

On my Southernaire charters, my sport anglers are seeing plenty of catch-and-release action on the top inshore trio. The snook and trout are quite abundant and the reds are being caught while targeting the snook.

Anchoring over structure in Tampa Bay is providing action on macks, bluefish and jack crevalle. Chumming these fish with some shiners is really creating a feeding frenzy — entertaining for my clients. The shiners aren’t lasting more than five seconds on the hook.

That’s some good action right there.

Capt. Warren Girle is finding action for his clients over deep grass flats during swift tides in the mornings. Casting free-lined live shiners as bait is yielding his anglers mangrove snapper, ladyfish, mackerel, bluefish and numerous catch-and-release spotted seatrout.

For the snappers, selecting the smaller-sized shiners for the hook is ideal, according to Girle. The 12-inch snapper prefer the smaller baits over big shiners. On shallower grass flats, Girle is putting clients on plenty of catch-and-release snook and a handful of catch-and-release redfish.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says limits of mangrove snapper are being caught by determined anglers at the pier. Live shrimp as bait is working the best and also attracts plenty of other species. Catch-and-release redfish are being caught on shrimp, too, as well as a few juvenile tarpon.

You also can add flounder to the list. Meanwhile, pier fishers using artificials — silver spoons and white jigs — are hooking up with some macks, jack crevalle and ladyfish.

Lastly, sport fishing for catch-and-release snook is going strong at the R&R. Larger baits, such as pinfish and even small ladyfish, are attracting 30-inch and even bigger snook. Numerous linesiders in the 20-inch range are being hooked.

Capt. Jason Stock is putting clients on black sea bass and mangrove snapper around structure in Tampa Bay, where small shiners and pinfish worked on the bottom are attracting both species. Fishing the flats in Tampa Bay is supplying some good action for the sport anglers on the catch-and-release species — snook and redfish.

Moving offshore, Stock is finding the amberjack bite accommodating. The same applies for yellowtail snapper. Also offshore are some mahi-mahi, which are a welcome sight for fishers on Stock’s J.M. Snooky Charters.

Capt. Johnny Mattay of Anna Maria Charters says catch-and-release action on snook and redfish is quite good inshore from Tampa Bay south through Sarasota Bay. For the snook, mangrove shorelines — where good water flow exists — are proving to be the ticket. Chumming with live shiners is an added advantage to trigger these fish to bite. As for the reds, the shallow grass flats and residential docks are harboring a bite. In fact, the docks are providing a better bite on larger fish, according to Mattay.

In deeper waters — along channel edges and over wrecks and reefs — Mattay is finding a good hit on mangrove snapper and grouper.

Lastly, he reports, Spanish mackerel are being found over the wrecks and reefs.

Get busy and get fishing.

Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Rain persists, anglers persevere in Anna Maria Island waters

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Capt. Aaron Lowman and Christie Bratcher of Brentwood, Tennessee, show off her 40-inch snook Sept. 11 before releasing it to fight again.
Gary Nelson of Sarasota shows off a snook caught inshore Sept. 16 using live shiners. Nelson and wife Janice were able to take home snapper for dinner and release the snook after a quick photo for bragging rights. They were guided to the fish by Capt. Warren Girle.

Dodging rain storms remained the trend for yet another week, while anglers working the waters around Anna Maria Island retain their eagerness to head out and try their luck hooking up some fish.

Keeping an eye on the weather forecast as well as an eye on the sky is imperative for fishers during hurricane season.

During the dry periods between the bands of rain spinning from Hurricane Sally — and then Beta — in the Gulf of Mexico, anglers hit the water and hunted some inshore fish.

Catch-and-release action for the inshore trio — snook, redfish and spotted seatrout — remains consistent, and fishing areas where good water flow is present is producing the best action. Casting live shiners on shallow grass flats is offering some great catch-and-release action on linesiders, and you may find some redfish mixed with the snook bite.

However, the reds are mostly being found around docks and oyster bars.

Catch-and-release spotted seatrout are biting with good frequency over the deeper grass areas. On the right flat, you may also find jack crevalle, ladyfish and Spanish mackerel mixed with the trout bite. Lucky anglers also are stumbling across mangrove snapper on these deep grass flats. The mangoes are a welcome sight on the end of the line as they allow an option to take some tasty fish home for dinner.

Fishing a little deeper in Tampa Bay, especially around the structure — reefs and rock piles — is yielding more tasty mangrove snapper. You might find a keeper gag grouper here or there, too. Spanish mackerel also are on patrol around structure in the bay and can be caught on a free-lined bait swimming on the surface.

Capt. Warren Girle is finding limits of mangrove snapper while fishing over deep grass areas in the bays. These deep grass flats — depths of 5 to 8 feet —are hosting numerous species, including jack crevalle, ladyfish, macks and catch-and-release seatrout. Adding snapper to this bite is quite appealing, as the action is nonstop and anglers get to take some fish home for a fish fry.

On the shallower grass flats close to shore, Girle has anglers casting live shiners to attract a bite. Catch-and-release species —snook and redfish —are readily taking baits in these areas during swift moving tides.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is finding good action inshore while fishing throughout Tampa Bay. He’s finding catch-and-release redfish and spotted seatrout are frequently taking bait on the shallow- to mid-depth flats around Terra Ceia Bay and in the mouth of the Manatee River.

The highlight of the shallow water fishing for one lucky client was a 40-inch snook and a trophy photo with the fish. Most linesiders are running 20-30 inches.

As for the trout and reds, 15 to 24 inches is the range.

For those looking to catch something for dinner, Lowman is working the structure in the bay for mangrove snapper. Also present around structure are Spanish mackerel and keeper-size gag grouper.

Capt. Johnny Mattay of Anna Maria Charters is finding numerous catch-and-release species — snook, redfish and trout — while fishing the waters of Tampa and Sarasota bays. Free-lining live shiners on a weighted rig is getting the job done. For the snook, casting free-lined baits over shallow flats around mangroves is working well. Casting free-lined shiners over deep flats is working well for seatrout as well as limits of mangrove snapper.

As for the reds, adding a little weight to the rig and casting shiners under docks seems to be the key to success, according to Mattay.

Fishing structure in Tampa Bay also is working on his search for mangrove snapper. Again a light bottom rig combined with a shiner is resulting in a bite.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says despite the water quality being cloudy from the rough surf in the Gulf of Mexico, the fishing is excellent at the R&R, where limits of mangrove snapper are being caught by anglers using live shrimp as bait. Those baiting shrimp are hooking into catch-and-release redfish and some keeper-size flounder.

Catch-and-release snook fishing is quite productive at the pier where live pinfish and shrimp are luring hungry linesiders to the hook.

On days when the bait schools are present, Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, ladyfish and blue runners are being caught on both live shrimp and artificials — jigs and spoons.

Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Wait out rainstorms to be rewarded with hookups, dinner

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Mike Halkyard shows off one of many hard-fighting bonita caught Sept. 1 a few miles out in the Gulf on a family fishing trip with Capt. Aaron Lowman. Halkyard caught this one on a lure, but plenty of fish took a live shiner. Lowman said he also guided the Halkyard family “to a bunch of catch-and-release snook and seatrout” and some Spanish mackerel and mangrove snapper that went in the cooler for dinner.

If you’re planning a backcountry fishing trip in the waters surrounding Anna Maria Island this month, you’ll want to bring a raincoat.

A pair of slickers might come in handy, too.

With frequent pop-up thunderstorms, you never know when you’re going to get wet. And it seems the storms pop up right when the bite is getting good. Most showers are brief, with some lasting 10-15 minutes. As long as there’s no lightning and your bilge pumps are functioning, you should be good to wait out the storm on the water.

Those willing to wait are being rewarded with a respectable number of catch-and-release snook, redfish and spotted seatrout. Early morning tides seem to work best, especially when fishing the shallow waters around mangroves and oyster bars. Free-lining live shiners and pinfish work well.

For those who like more of a challenge, top-water plugs and soft plastics will attract the fish’s attention. If you’re carrying top-water plugs in your tackle box, don’t hesitate to take a few casts over the deeper grass flats for spotted seatrout. Trout love to blast baits on the surface and, if you’re skilled at “walking the dog,” you might trick one into a taste. There’s other species on the deeper grass flats, too, including ladyfish and jack crevalle — both likely to crash a top-water lure.

Live bait fishing over the deep grass likely will result in a more consistent hook-up-to-cast ratio and, if you’re lucky, you might catch your limit of mangrove snapper between trout bites.

Fishing structure is usually the best plan when searching for snapper, but when they are on the deep grass, they tend to take baits fairly frequently as they are there to feed.

Also, speaking of structure, the snapper are available for the taking in these areas. Mixed in are Spanish mackerel and many jack crevalle. Artificial reefs, wrecks and rock piles should hold the fish until the new moon.

On my Southernaire charters, I’m seeing numerous catch-and-release spotted seatrout coming to the hook. Mornings of 30-40 trout hookups are occurring — keeping my anglers busy. Mixed in are ladyfish, jack crevalle, bluefish and Spanish mackerel.

Catch-and-release snook fishing also is quite good. Fishing swift moving tides is key to getting a good bite from a linesider, and I’m also seeing a few redfish mixed in while targeting the snook.

Capt. Warren Girle is finding action for his anglers around the artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico. In depths of 30 feet, Girle is chumming with dead shiners, inspiring the mangrove snapper to feed. Free-lining a shiner in the chum results in limits of snappers. Most catches are 15 inches, but snapper up to 20 inches are taking the hook.

Other catches while fishing structure in the Gulf include Spanish mackerel and bonito.

Moving inshore to the shallow grass flats, Girle is putting clients on some catch-and-release action on snook and redfish. Both are responding to free-lined live shiners cast over shallow grass flats — anywhere mangroves and oyster bars exist.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says catch-and-release snook are being hooked daily by anglers visiting the pier. Pier fishers using live shrimp or other live bait — pinfish and shiners — are hooking into snook 20-30 inches.

Catch-and-release redfish are being caught similarly, although less frequently than the linesiders.

For anglers looking to bring home dinner, mangrove snapper and flounder are on the menu. Limits of keeper snapper — five fish of minimum 10-inches per angler — are attainable.

As for flounder, the pier fishers don’t scoff at fish 18-22 inches. On days when the bait schools are present, casting artificials such as jigs and spoons is attracting an occasional jack crevalle or ladyfish. Lucky anglers are hooking into some Spanish mackerel — nice to add to a snapper limit.

Capt. David White is working offshore with his clients on the red grouper catch. According to White, red grouper are feeding heavily and taking every bait presented to them.

Along with the red grouper, White is finding yellowtail snapper accommodating. Again, every bait is being eaten.

Moving inshore, White is targeting catch-and-release species — snook, redfish and juvenile tarpon. While inshore, White’s clients are hooking into plenty of Spanish mackerel and mangrove snapper for their coolers.

Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Thunderstorms flush catch-and-release trio from river to hook

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Mahi wowie Capt. David White, right, and angler Spencer Dienes, a radiologist in Miami, show off what White termed “a respectable little mahi-mahi” caught Sept. 2 on a live shiner in about 120 feet of water off Anna Maria Island. Dolphinfish, Coryphaena hippurus, also known as mahi-mahi or dorado, can run up to 63 inches and 88 pounds, but it’s common to find fish of 30 pounds. The fish is capable of flashing purple, chartreuse and a wide range of other colors.
Darryl Dewort of Odessa shows off one of several redfish he caught Aug. 22 while fishing inshore in Sarasota Bay using shiners as bait. All fish were released. Dewort was guided on the fishing trip by Capt. Warren Girle.
Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters helps Jess Sturtevant of Bradenton Sept. 2 to hoist his catch, a cobia in the 60-pound range, for a trophy photo. “This animal popped up right behind the boat in 160 feet of water and ate a live pinfish,” White said.

Fishing around Anna Maria Island remained consistent despite the fresh water draining from the Manatee River to the bays.

The fresh water is pushing catch-and-release species —trout, redfish and snook — into Tampa Bay and Anna Maria Sound. Patrolling these areas around the mouth of the river is advantageous in September, when we experience a lot of rainfall, because its possible to find good concentrations of fish.

Schooling redfish are being found in this manner, as are large schools of snook. The reds are on the feed, but for the snook you may have to experiment.

Some groups of fish I’ve located won’t eat, while others are more than happy to take a bait. When you run across the stubborn ones, you’ll know it. Give them a few casts and if they don’t take a shiner with a hook in it, move on.

Spotted seatrout are being found throughout Anna Maria Sound, especially over deep grass flats. Rallies of 20-30 trout are attainable without even pulling the anchor.

Moving offshore, amberjack are being caught in good numbers, which suits anglers who want to go head-to-head with strong fighting fish.

For the dinner table, there are plenty of yellowtail and mangrove snapper.

On my Southernaire charters, the inshore action in the deep grass areas is good. Ladyfish, jack crevalle and bluefish are filling the gaps between the bites from catch-and-release spotted seatrout. This results in practically every cast yielding a fish.

The catch-and-release snook action can be consistent, depending on what schools of snook you’re fishing. Some are cooperative, others are stubborn.

Also, I’m still seeing plenty of mangrove snapper around structure in Tampa Bay.

Capt. Warren Girle is finding good action on the deep grass areas of Sarasota Bay by anchoring and chumming. Fishing over deep grass flats in 6-8 feet of water yields a variety of species, including mangrove snapper, bluefish, ladyfish, jack crevalle and catch-and-release spotted seatrout. All of the species are being caught using live shiners as bait.

In shallow areas of the bay, where oyster bars and mangroves are present, Girle is finding catch-and-release snook and redfish — both are taking live shiners as bait.

Capt. Jason Stock is taking advantage of the light winds and calm seas to venture offshore. While offshore, he is putting anglers on numerous amberjack. Also, clients are hooking yellowtail and mangrove snapper, as well as a rainbow runners.

On windier days, Stock is remaining in Tampa Bay, where he’s finding action for clients on flounder, mangrove snapper and some juvenile tarpon.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing catch-and-release snook caught with frequency — but not as often as the mangrove snapper. Pier fishers using live shrimp as bait are putting limits of snapper in their coolers on good days.

Other catches include catch-and-release redfish, ladyfish and jack crevalle. Casting silver spoons or jigs from the pier is yielding some action for the pier anglers on Spanish mackerel.

Capt. David White is seeing a migration of cobia on his days offshore. He believes it’s a little early, but he’s beginning to see them and manage a hookup or few in our local waters.

White also is hooking into offshore is mahi. Although not a consistent bite, it’s always rewarding to come across these fish in our waters. Other offshore catches include red grouper and an assortment of snapper, including mangrove, yellowtail and vermilion.

Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Fish for success: Know tides, check temps, follow weather

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Kevin Kerridge and son Beck, vacationing in Anna Maria for the summer from New York, went fishing Aug. 22 for snook and redfish with Capt. Dave White of Anna Maria Charters. They wound up finding an inshore school of tarpon. The pair hooked up three junior silverkings and landed and released two.
Sharing a life-long passion Fred Barton, 92, left, a 30-year resident of Holmes Beach with wife Debbie, is a lifelong fisherman and U.S. Marine. Son Eric took dad fishing Aug. 12, when Fred declared it would be his last as he prepared to undergo home care. According to a friend, Robert Lopez, Fred’s children, Robert, Janice, Susan and Eric, along with Debbie, his wife of 70-plus years wanted to acknowledge his passion for fishing.

Inshore fishing around Anna Maria Island is following the typical hot summertime pattern.

Hot days. Hot catches.

And BOLO for fast-moving weather.

Early morning fishing on the flats before the sun gets high is worthwhile for the catch-and-release snook and redfish.

I think picking the days to fish is the key to success. Choose days when there are swift moving tides and low light in the early morning, when water temps are slightly cooler, helping trigger the inshore species to feed.

Combining good tidal flow with a lower morning temp can result in great summertime action on the flats. As the day progresses and the sun rises, you’ll notice the shallow areas where snook and redfish forage are not as productive as during the cool of the morning.

The reason? It’s too darn hot.

If you’re willing to brave the heat, then I suggest moving to deeper water to target mangrove snapper and grouper, as well as popular migratory fish, such as mackerel and jacks.

Down deeper, where the water temps remain cooler, the bottom dwellers — snapper and grouper — remain motivated to eat. If you can venture offshore to depths of 80-100 feet, you’ll find a more accommodating bite.

Also, keep in mind that with the hottest days of the year there’s potential for pop-up storms. Keep an eye on the sky to prevent being trapped by heavy rain with lightning. Calm conditions can switch to rough waters in a second when you’re offshore. And the storms that bring lightning can be startling when you’re on a boat. Always consider your safety and the safety of your passengers ahead of your fishing goals and do the best you can do to avoid the fast-moving weather.

Capt. Warren Girle is encouraged to see the habitat of Sarasota Bay showing improvement after the devastating red tide of 2018-19.

He says bay fishing over deep grass areas is yielding a variety of species.

Catch-and-release spotted seatrout are being caught frequently, as well as jack crevalle, ladyfish, bluefish and Spanish mackerel.

And most importantly, mangrove snapper are coming on strong. Limits of the snappers are being caught in a morning of fishing by bumping from one spot to the next. It’s not a “one-stop shop,” but Girle’s anglers are putting enough in the cooler for dinner. Fishing shallow over the flats in Sarasota Bay also is yielding some good action, especially on catch-and-release redfish.

Capt. David White is concentrating inshore, where catch-and-release snook and redfish are being hooked up along mangrove shorelines at oyster bars. Casting live shiners — either free-lined or under a cork — is producing action.

Moving to the deeper grass, White is putting clients on plenty of mangrove snapper and Spanish mackerel in Tampa Bay over structure.

To mix things up, White found some juvenile tarpon that, when hooked on light tackle, are thrilling for his clients.

With bad weather and rough seas, Capt. Jason Stock limited his charters to inshore action, where the gag grouper and mangrove snapper bite in Tampa Bay kept him busy. Free-lining large baits — such as pinfish — around wrecks and rock piles in the bay was producing some keeper gags. As for the snappers, small white bait works well.

Also, while in the bay, Stock has his eyes peeled for juvenile tarpon. These small schools tend to bite more as the heat of pursuit of the silver king wanes.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says mangrove snapper are the targeted species. Anglers using live shrimp as bait are catching limits of the tasty inshore snappers. In the midst of the snapper, anglers also are hooking into some catch-and-release snook and redfish.

Fishers casting jigs from the pier are hooking into jack crevalle and ladyfish for sport, but the bite is sporadic.

Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Use radar to avoid storms, employ fish finder for hookups

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It’s time to catch bug fever Tammy Atherton of Holmes Beach asks, “Got butter?” as she shows off the 9-pound lobster snagged by hand Aug. 7 by husband Ron in 70 feet of water off Anna Maria Island on a dive trip on their boat, Pour Choices. Florida lobster season opened Aug. 6 and don’t we know what was for dinner!
Robert Cobb and son Anthony along with friend Bryce Dominguez fished nearshore Aug.14, catching snapper and grouper on shiners. The trio was visiting for the weekend from Tampa.

With the recent frequency of rainstorms moving from the Gulf of Mexico, anglers are watching the sky.

Larger showers can turn into torrential downpours, with high wind gusts and lightning. So keep a watchful eye.

And, with radar being available on smartphones, you should be able to avoid severe situations.

As far as the fishing goes, inshore anglers are enjoying some good action on the catch-and-release trio — snook, trout and redfish.

For the snook and reds, the best action is during the hours around sunrise, provided you have a swift tide and clean water.

Casting baits along mangrove shorelines and oyster bars is a smart bet.

On deeper areas away from shore, spotted seatrout are making a good showing. Mixed in with the bite are ladyfish, Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle and mangrove snapper. Snapper in these areas makes it possible to take a few fish home for dinner.

Offshore, reports of permit and amberjack being caught around reefs and wrecks are encouraging.

Other species, such as groupers and yellowtail snapper, are being caught around areas of hard bottom and other structure.

Also, predators such as shark and barracuda are abundant, providing great action for anglers looking to catch something big and toothy.

Capt. Warren Girle is targeting a variety of species throughout the grass flats of Sarasota and Tampa bays. Free-lining live shiners over deep grass areas lures Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jack crevalle ladyfish, mangrove snapper and catch-and-release trout.

With this assortment, anglers are enjoying great light-tackle catch-and-release action and, with the snapper present, they’re putting some fish in the cooler.

On the shallower flats, Girle is finding good action for clients, especially on catch-and-release snook.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is finding action around the nearshore reefs and wrecks in the Gulf of Mexico. Permit are the highlight of the nearshore adventures, with fish averaging 10 pounds. Casting live crabs or pompano jigs is luring the elusive fish to the hook.

While in the Gulf, Lowman is coming across schools of bonita. There isn’t much food value to these fish, but the power they exude on light tackle is not for the faint of heart.

In Tampa Bay, Lowman is finding good action on the flats. Deeper grass flats are host to catch-and-release trout mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish and the shallower flats are producing action on catch-and-release snook and redfish.

Capt. Jason Stock says amberjack are the highlight for his clients. Live bait offerings and artificials such as surface plugs attract the aggressive reef dwellers.

Permit are another species accommodating Stock. Sight-casting to schooling fish on the calm days is an unforgettable experience.

In areas where hard bottom exists, yellowtail snapper and almaco jacks round out the bite and provide some meat for the cooler.

Finally, hunting predatory fish such as sharks, barracuda and goliath grouper is a worthy choice.

Hamilton Brown at the Rod & Reel says mangrove snapper are the most evident bite.

Pier fishers purchasing live shrimp as bait are finding success. In fact, limits of snapper are being caught on the trusty shrimp. Catch-and-release snook are next in the lineup. Live shrimp work, as well as larger baits such as pinfish or mojarras.

When the bait schools are present, Spanish mackerel are being caught with some regularity. Brown suggests morning or evening if you plan on targeting these fish.

Capt. David White is finding excellent action on red grouper and yellowtail snapper while fishing offshore over areas of hard bottom. Live or frozen bait offerings get the job done.

Also, White is hooking up with some mangrove snapper and some amberjack.

Moving inshore, he is finding success on catch-and-release species such as snook and redfish by casting live shiners along mangrove shorelines and oyster bars.

Send photos to fish@islander.org.

Head out for social distance and a hook up with fish

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Christian Bruggeman and his dad, David, of Burlington, Kentucky, hoist a nice red grouper caught on a live pinfish Aug. 5 in 120 feet of water offshore of Anna Maria Island while on a fishing trip with Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters.
Izzy Stasny, 10, shows off her catch, a 6-pound jack crevalle, from a final fishing trip Aug. 14 before the start of school. Izzy fished with her dad, Capt. Danny Stasny of Southernaire charters and Islander outdoors reporter.
Capt. Warren Girle, left, poses Aug. 16 with Cliff Coleman of Lakeland and Longboat Key, holding his permit, caught along with several others while fishing offshore with crabs for bait. Girle guided Coleman to the fish — all catch and release.

Amid the dark cloud over our heads called COVID-19, many people are finding the best place to be is on the water surrounding Anna Maria Island.

What better way to avoid crowds than a peaceful morning fishing the clear waters of Tampa Bay and beyond?

Fishing the inshore waters is yielding good action, despite our record-breaking heat and high water temps.

Morning fishing is best, especially for catch-and-release snook and redfish.

As the day heats up, fishing deeper flats for catch-and-release spotted seatrout also is productive. As a bonus, the deeper grass flats host a variety of other species — Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, jack crevalle and especially mangrove snapper.

The small snapper seem to be everywhere. Patient anglers are catching limits of these feisty little fish regularly by scaling down their leader and hook sizes to trick the fish into biting.

Anglers moving offshore will find yellowtail and mangrove snappers, as well as permit, amberjack and a variety of groupers. Numerous sharks are present, too. So reel up those snappers fast to avoid having them chomped away.

On my Southernaire charters, I’m targeting catch-and-release snook and reds first thing, while the waters are slightly cooler after the darkness of night. Casting free-lined shiners around mangroves, oyster bars and residential docks yield good numbers of fish.

As the sun rises and warms the water, I’m moving to deeper grass flats to target catch-and-release spotted seatrout. Mixed in are Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, jack crevalle, bluefish and, best of all, mangrove snapper. These little guys are everywhere, and I am enjoying watching anglers reel in their limits for dinner.

Capt. Warren Girle is finding a limit of mangoes throughout the deeper grass flats of Sarasota Bay. By free-lining small shiners in these areas, Girle is finding schools of snapper taking up temporary residence in the turtle grass. Mixed in are macks, bluefish and catch-and-release spotted seatrout.

On some recent offshore adventures, Girle lucked into large permit at the offshore wrecks. Over the wrecks, Girle is putting anglers on limits of yellowtail snapper and some large mangrove snapper.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is targeting a variety of species while anchored over the deep grass in Tampa Bay, where Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and catch-and-release trout are taking baits. As a bonus, anglers are catching limits of mangrove snapper.

Moving shallower, along the mangrove-lined shore and oyster bars, Lowman is putting clients on catch-and-release snook and redfish.

Moving into the Gulf, Lowman is hooking into permit and bonita, as well as keeper-size gag grouper over the inshore reefs.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says catch-and-release snook are appearing more frequently. Some catch-and-release redfish are being caught, too. For anglers looking to catch dinner, mangrove snapper are accommodating at the pier. Limits of the tasty fish are taking live shrimp offerings. Light fluorocarbon leader and small hooks are the perfect recipe to attain the limit of five snapper.

As for migratory fish, some ladyfish and jack crevalle are being caught on small white jigs.

Capt. Jason Stock is enjoying time at the fillet table as he returns to the dock from his offshore charters. Yellowtail and mangrove snapper limits are keeping him busy and his clients smiling in anticipation of a fish fry.

Amberjack and permit are being caught offshore and well-suited for fishers who like something big on the end of the line. Other fierce adversaries in the offshore mix include bonita, goliath grouper and a variety of sharks.

Capt. David White is finding success by chumming yellowtail snapper to the boat while anchored all over wrecks and reefs in the Gulf of Mexico. Mixed in with the yellowtails are some large mangrove snapper for a little variety in the cooler.

Since the opening of the amberjack fishery Aug. 1, White has been spending time targeting the powerful fish. Also, red grouper are taking a hook over hard bottom areas in depth around 100 feet.

Timing is everything when targeting fish

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Next stop? The cleaning table and a fish fry. Chris Dorado, left, Danny Soto, Cristie Garcia and Fernando Sanbartolme, of Miami, fish Aug. 6 on the west coast. Each caught numerous inshore mangrove snapper using shiners on a charter trip with Capt. Warren Girle.

With air temps in the 90s and water temps to match, fishing remains consistently “hot” around Anna Maria Island. You just need to time your trip on the water.

Try to find good flowing tides around sunrise to maximize your chances of having a successful fishing trip. With water temps and air temps slightly cooler in the early morning hours, you may find the fish more active at sunrise than at 3 p.m. under the hot sun. This is especially imperative if you’re planning to fish the flats.

If you can’t make it out early, then you’ll want to fish deeper water. In the depths, the water remains consistently cooler, which, in theory, means the inhabitants should be active throughout the day.

If you’re inshore, try fishing the reefs and wrecks in Tampa Bay for snapper. If you’re traveling offshore, your opportunities are endless. Although, bear in mind that during the summer months, you may encounter large predators — sharks and barracuda — offshore. These ambush-predators are well-versed in devouring the fish at the end of your lure. Why should they pass up an easy meal, right?

It’s good to prepare your gear for the inevitable.

If you’re inshore on the flats in the early morning hours, you can expect to encounter the top trio of catch-and-release species — snook, redfish and trout.

There also are plenty of mangrove snapper inhabiting the inshore waters right now — they’re everywhere. Whether it be around structure or on the flats, you’re likely to hook a few. In deeper areas of the inshore waters, you can expect to see some jack crevalle, Spanish mackerel and ladyfish.

Moving offshore, yellowtail snapper seem to be the main attraction for those wanting to catch dinner. Mangrove snapper are available there, too, as well as red grouper, blackfin tuna and amberjack.

On my Southernaire charters, I’m seeing limits of mangrove snapper. Most catches are occurring while targeting catch-and-release snook. The snapper are running 10-14 inches — with most right in the middle. As for the snook hookups, the early mornings are yielding good numbers, but as the day wears on and the heat intensifies, the snook become lazy and less apt to bite. When this occurs, I’m moving to deeper flats to target catch-and-release spotted seatrout, which are cooperating.

In between trout bites, ladyfish, mackerel and jack crevalle are taking the bait.

Capt. Warren Girle is finding good results from fishing in Sarasota Bay. Working around rocks and docks is yielding limits of mangrove snapper with small live shiners for bait is attracting snappers up to 12 inches.

Moving to the grass flats, Girle is targeting catch-and-release spotted seatrout in depths of 5-7 feet. While targeting the trout, anglers are enjoying a bite from a variety of other species — macks, bluefish, ladyfish, jack crevalle and mangrove snapper.

Moving to the shallower grass flats in 2-3 feet of water, Girle is putting his sport fishing clients on catch-and-release snook.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is spending mornings targeting catch-and-release snook in Tampa Bay for his clients. Most catches are 20-30 inches, although a few larger fish are mixed in. Casting live shiners along mangrove shorelines is resulting in the hookups.

Catch-and-release redfish are coming to the hook for Lowman’s anglers around residential docks and oyster bars. Lowman noted that targeting catch-and-release spotted seatrout remains steady for yet another week over deep grass flats with good tidal flow.

Moving out deeper to wrecks and reefs in Tampa Bay and in the Gulf is producing action, too. Mangrove snapper, permit, cobia and bonita are present in these areas.

Capt. Jason Stock is running some good trips offshore. With the American red snapper season ended, he’s put his sights on other snappers. Mangrove and yellowtail snapper are being caught regularly, although getting them to the boat without them being eaten by a barracuda, shark or goliath grouper is challenging.

With amberjack back in season, Stock is in pursuit. Live baits fished near the surface and surface poppers are working well. Also present offshore are blackfin tuna, which Stock finds equally fun to catch and a heck of a lot better to eat.

Capt. David White also is having good luck offshore, leading his clients to numerous snappers.

Mangrove and yellowtail are fiercely taking the bait from White’s anglers and red grouper are eating well, quickly taking bait as they approach it on the Gulf floor.

Fishing baits on the surface works well for blackfin tuna, with most catches 15-20 pounds, although fish up to 30 pounds are being caught.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says catch-and-release snook fishing is on the rise. Pier fishers using either live shrimp or shiners are hooking plenty of catch-and-release snook during the morning and evening hours at the pier. Mangrove snapper are readily taking baits —  especially shrimp. These tasty little fish are measuring 10-12 inches and limits are easily attainable. Other species being caught include catch-and-release redfish, flounder, jack crevalle and ladyfish.

Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.


Chart a beat-the-heat course on the water, get top hookups

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Jack DiPasqua of Bradenton shows off an American red snapper he caught July 29 — the final day of season for the American reds. He found success using a live pinfish for bait in 130 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico with Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters.

As the summer heat persists, fishing around Anna Maria Island requires planning your course for a successful day on the water.

This is especially true when fishing the shallow inshore waters of Tampa Bay.

Targeting catch-and-release snook and redfish is best in the morning hours, just before through just after sunrise. The shallow waters on the flats heat up quickly, leaving the fish lazy or unmotivated to bite.

So fishing in the early morning ensures slightly lower water temps and the cooler water results in active fish on the feed.

Another tactic is to fish deeper water. You may not be targeting snook and reds, but other species — mangrove snapper, mackerel and jacks — will keep you reeling.

The cooler, deeper waters are less intrusive on the fish, leaving them more apt to bite.

And there’s always the offshore bite. Traveling out into the Gulf of Mexico is yielding good action now on a variety of species, including permit, snapper and grouper.

On my Southernaire charters, I’m following a pattern determined by the heat.

During the early morning, I’m finding some great catch-and-release snook action. Fishing shallow grass flats where good current and clean water exist is yielding hookups for sport fishers of 20-30 snook per trip.

As the sun gets higher, I’m changing tactics and rigging for deeper water and snapper and mackerel. Both species are cooperating — most days — as long as the tide is moving.

Lastly, fishing deep grass for catch-and-release spotted seatrout is producing action for my anglers. The trout are found mixed in with other species, including ladyfish and jack crevalle, all ready to take a bait.

Capt. Warren Girle is working the inshore waters of Tampa Bay around structure, where a variety of species, including mangrove snapper, juvenile grouper and Spanish mackerel are waiting for a meal. For the snapper and grouper, fishing baits on the bottom works well. For the macks, fishing baits near the surface over the structure produces the best action and Girle’s clients also are finding jack crevalle and ladyfish on the hook.

Moving to the grass flats, Girle is putting clients on plenty of catch-and-release snook and trout action, with both responding to live shiners as bait.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is running clients to the inshore waters of Terra Ceia and Tampa Bay for catch-and-release snook fishing, where live shiners are putting his clients on some excellent action. Swift moving tides combined with mangrove shorelines where oyster bars exist present a perfect recipe for a hook up with the popular backwater fish. While targeting the snook, catch-and-release redfish are sporadically taking a hook.

Moving away from the mangrove shoreline to deeper grass flats is producing frequent action on catch-and-release spotted seatrout, as well as ladyfish, jack crevalle and a few mackerel.

Additionally, running into the Gulf of Mexico is good for a variety of hookups, including mangrove snapper, gag grouper, permit, bonito, cobia and blacktip sharks.

Capt. David White was working charters offshore in pursuit of American red snapper right up to the cutoff July 25. The most aggressive of the snapper species was living up to its reputation, ravaging bait as it drops to the depths. In 100-plus feet of water, White found limits of the snapper. Both live bait and frozen baits attract the bite. While offshore, White is putting his clients on mangrove and yellowtail snappers, too.

Moving inshore, White is enjoying catch-and-release snook action, where, during swift moving tides, his clients are hooking into as many linesiders as they can handle.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says fishers there are having success with mangrove snapper. Casting live shrimp under the pier results in near limits of the tasty little fish. Most are 10-12 inches. Pier fishers using shrimp as bait also are hooking up with catch-and-release redfish and a few catch-and-release snook. Casting lures — jigs and spoons away from the pier — is yielding lady fish and jack crevalle.

Capt. Jason Stock is finding plenty of offshore action for his clients in the Gulf of Mexico. Targeting permit over wrecks is outstanding, with catches in the 15-pound range.

While fishing around the wrecks, Stock is finding large sharks, which adds excitement to the adventure and wears out anglers. Bull sharks and blacktips can put up quite a fight.

Moving out deeper — to depths exceeding 100 feet — Stock finished out the American red snapper season with success, putting limits of these large snappers into his clients’ coolers.

Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Bountiful mangrove snapper, variety of fish keep anglers busy

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Chad Greer, visiting Anna Maria Island from St. Louis, fished inshore using shiners as bait. He hooked this catch, photo and release redfish and more, and some snook, too, all on a guided trip with Capt. Warren Girle.

Summertime fishing around Anna Maria Island continues to be good, providing action and producing smiling anglers.

In Tampa Bay, structure is prime for a variety of fish. Bottom fishing with live shiners or pinfish is resulting in mangrove snapper and gag grouper. But free-lining live shiners over structure also can entice the snappers along with some of the more ravenous species — Spanish mackerel and jack crevalle. which typically beat the snapper to the hook.

On the flats of Tampa Bay, catch-and-release snook fishing is still a good bet. Just make sure you have good tidal flow if you want to heighten the experience. The same applies for catch-and-release spotted seatrout. Good numbers of these popular buck-toothed fish are present in the deeper grass areas.

Those willing to make the voyage offshore were being rewarded with limits of American red snapper up to the season’s end July 25. Other snappers, such as mangrove and yellowtail are being caught, too, and fishing wrecks offshore is leading to some excellent action on permit and sharks.

Lastly, hard-bottom areas are a good place to look for some keeper gag and red grouper.

On my Southernaire charters, I’m collecting limits of mangrove snapper for the cooler. Fishing structure in Tampa Bay is providing good numbers of these guys. Mixed in are macks, jack crevalle, ladyfish and juvenile grouper.

Moving to the flats, the catch-and-release snook action has tapered off slightly but is still productive. Fish ranging 20-30 inches are the norm.

Catch-and-release spotted seatrout action is productive over the deep grass flats. Free-lining
live shiners as bait is doing the job. Spanish mackerel and ladyfish also are present, as well as mangrove snapper.

Capt. Warren Girle is targeting mangrove snapper over reefs and wrecks in Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Baiting the hook with small live shiners is leading Girle and his clients to limits of these popular inshore snapper. Mixed in with the snapper are mackerel and juvenile grouper.

On the grass flats, Girle is finding catch-and-release spotted seatrout in good numbers for the sport anglers. Depths of 4-8 feet are producing the best action. Ladyfish and jack crevalle also are lurking on these deep flats, readily taking baits as they come across them.

Lastly, catch-and-release snook fishing along mangrove shorelines is giving Girle’s clients the thrill of hooking into a linesider.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is concentrating his efforts over the structure available around Tampa Bay. These areas are host to a variety of species, including mangrove snapper, Spanish mackerel and gag grouper. Chumming live bait is getting the fish fired up, which makes for some great light-tackle fishing.

Also in Tampa Bay, there is good catch-and-release action over the flats for snook and spotted seatrout. For the best results, Lowman suggests working a strong tidal flow.

Lastly, fishing some of the artificial reefs in the Gulf is producing some good action. Permit, bonita, goliath grouper and sharks are cruising for your bait.

Capt. Jason Stock says despite the weather being all over the boards, he’s still finding a good tarpon bite. Evening outgoing tides are producing tarpon action — if you know where to look.

Fishing around some of the nearshore reefs is yielding some catch-and-release over-slot snook, as well as goliath grouper. And both are crowd-pleasers, according to Stock.

Moving out to some of the offshore wrecks is resulting in some sizzling permit action. Lastly, American red snapper were the go-to while offshore before season wrapped up July 25.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says catch-and-release redfish are being hooked frequently by the pier anglers using live shrimp as bait. Catches are 15-30 inches with most on the smaller side.

Mangrove snapper are finding their way to the hook for a live shrimp. Limits of these fish are going into the coolers of patient anglers with a ruler. Most are 10 to 12 inches.

Lastly, jack crevalle and ladyfish are predominant when the bait schools are present. Silver spoons or crappie jigs are pretty much guaranteed to attract a bite.

Capt. David White was in pursuit of American red snapper right up to the July 25 cutoff. Limits of these aggressive fish are occurring daily. Mangrove and yellowtail are being added to the snapper aggregates while on the charters with White. Targeting grouper is yet another offshore winner. Gag and red grouper are responding to both live and frozen baits.

Moving inshore, White is finding catch-and-release snook action as well as some catch-and-release spotted seatrout for his sport anglers.

Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.