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Date of Issue: January 03, 2008

Grouper move close to shore in Gulf; backwater action slow

Fishing pic
Got grouper? You bet!
Holding off their catch of gag and red grouper are, from left, David Lansaw, Kitsie Penick, David and Pat Dombrowski, and Claude and Jeanett Mika. The fish were caught about 30 miles offshore of Anna Maria Island using live pinfish and sardines while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters.

It’s all offshore all the time right now in fishing action, with grouper moving close to Anna Maria Island in the Gulf of Mexico. Limit catches of keeper-size gag grouper are common for most boaters within about 10 miles of shore. There are also reports of good-sized snapper and even a stray kingfish.

Inshore action isn’t quite as good, as redfish, snook and even sheepshead seem to have taken the holidays at face value and stopped biting.

Remember that snook and trout season opened Jan. 1.

Also, the commercial shark fishery in the Gulf and Atlantic Ocean has been closed by federal authorities at least until August. Closure doesn’t appear to impact the recreational fishers.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said offshore fishing for grouper and snapper has been excellent of late, with the fish being caught within 10 miles of Anna Maria Island. Most of the grouper have been gags — keeper gags — up to 14 pounds. Other offshore catches include triggerfish, amberjack and lane snapper. Backwater fishing is pretty slow, he said.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said fishers there were catching small sheepshead plus some mackerel.

Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said action has been slow, with sheepshead hanging around but not really biting. Macks are still coming on the hooks, though.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he’s hearing of limit-catches of redfish and mangroves coming from Terra Ceia and Miguel bays, plus mangrove snapper. Black drum are being caught from the Manatee River, he added.

At Tropic Isles Marina, reports include a few redfish from Terra Ceia Bay, but trout and snook are hard to find.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina saidhe’s been having some pretty good action with a variety of species in a variety of locations. “The Gulf beaches have been consistently good for good catches,” he said, “with numerous bluefish and a scattering of Spanish macks, jacks, cobia and bonito. There has still been an occasional kingfish and, if you can get offshore a few miles, the grouper and snapper fishing has been good as well.” Capt. Zach said that in Sarasota Bay, Palma Sola and Anna Maria Sound, the action has been good as well with trout, ladyfish, jacks, flounder, redfish and an occasional pompano. He also said that, based on weather conditions so far this season, “2008 may be another off the wall year with unusual catches and fishing patterns.”

On my boat Magic, fishing has been slow of late, with a few reds being caught in the backwater but nothing to write home about.

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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