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Date of Issue: March 30, 2005

Fishing

First offshore venture
Oscar MacLain, 10, visiting from Leeds, England, caught these two nice mangrove snapper and a couple gag grouper while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire. It was Oscar's first offshore fishing trip. The action came in about 100 feet of water off the Island, with pinfish and shrimp working best as bait.
Click on image to enlarge

Warmer weather brings grouper closer to shore

Recent unseasonably warm air temperatures appear to have driven fishers out of the house and onto the water, with good results.

Grouper and snapper fishing offshore is in full steam, with lots of reports of grouper coming in from less than 100 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico. There are also many reports of grouper hanging out by the shipping channel in Tampa Bay.

Backwater fishing for sheepshead remains the No. 1 action report, with trout catches a close second.

There are also a few flounder and mangrove snapper being caught off the piers.

Capt Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he has been consistantly putting his clients on lots of gag grouper to 20 pounds, even on four-hour trips. He said his charters are are also catching red grouper, mangrove snapper to 5 pounds, lane snapper, yellowtail snapper, triggerfish, amberjack and sea bass. He said he's been fishing out to 100 feet in the Gulf off Anna Maria Island & Longboat Key, using live shrimp and pinfish, as well as frozen sardines as bait.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said in the bays sheepshead are the best bet, as well as trout and redfish, but offshore action was excellent for grouper and snapper in less than 100 feet of water. There are lots of reports of fishers limiting-out on grouper to 25 pounds in size.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said action there includes good catches of sheepshead, sea bass, snapper and a few nice-sized permit.

Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said fishing is getting better by the day, with sheepshead being the No. 1 catch there. Other good catches include black drum, a few redfish, flounder and mangrove snapper.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said big trout and redfish were caught in Terra Ceia Bay, plus grunts, snapper, sheepshead and lots of legal-size grouper coming from the ship channel in Tampa Bay.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said his charters caught grouper to 15 pounds offshore just 9 miles out in the Gulf last week, as well as some legal-size grouper caught near Port Manatee. Other action included sheepshead and lots of trout.

At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, trout fishing has been good for this time of year, with warmer weather helping a lot. A few sheepshead were reported caught in Palma Sola Bay, plus near all the local bridges and piers.

At Sunshine Bait & Tackle, there are reports of lots of small grouper coming from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and pier system, most of legal size, as well as redfish in Terra Ceia Bay and sheepshead around the docks.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said trout fishing for him is excellent right now, with some fish caught in Palma Sola Bay reaching better than 24 inches in length. Redfish and sheepshead are also thick around almost all the docks in the bays.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said he's putting his charters onto trout to 24 inches in length, plus flounder and snook in the backwaters. Offshore, in about 40 feet of water in the Gulf, he's catching snapper, sheepshead and grunts.

On my boat Magic, we've caught sheepshead up to 6 pounds while fishing about 6 miles out in the Gulf, plus mangrove snapper and lots of grunts. Inshore action continues to feature redfish to 26 inches and lots of trout.

Good luck and good fishing.

Capt. Mike Heistand is a 20-year-plus fishing guide. Call him at 723-1107 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 news@islander.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.

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