Cut to the chase: just go fishing right now
By Paul Roat
Fall has flown into the fishing scene. Depending on who you talk to, it’s either been good, bad or indifferent.
Good grouper catch
Reed Wagner caught this grouper while fishing with Grampa Ray Wagner off Anna Maria Island. .
The change in season hasn’t been that much of a change weather- or water-wise. Fishing continues to be good for the most part.
Offshore action saw some king mackerel hit for a day or two in the Gulf of Mexico, then dropped off. It’s just days until the real run of the kings starts up along the coast.
Grouper and snapper are still a great catch offshore, mostly in 100-plus feet of water, plus a few amberjack and cobia.
Backwater schooling redfish are scattered, but appear hungry. Trout are still hitting, but in deeper seagrass flats. Snook are moving into the bays, but still can be found off the shallow beaches along Anna Maria Island.
In short, it’s a good time to go fishing with cooler air temperatures early morning and late night and hotter fishing action.
Danny Stasny at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he caught a burst of kingfish one day last week during the mini-cold front that hit Anna Maria Island. The kings got turned on by the change in weather for a day, then the catch dissipated. A return in a few weeks is expected as the real run starts, he predicted. Other offshore action is great with gag grouper, mangrove snapper and cobia showing up in about 100 feet of water in the Gulf. Sharks are all over, especially off the beaches. Here’s a fishing hint from Danny: Spanish mackerel are thick off the beaches. Catch a mack, cut it in half, put in on a big hook with big line and paddle out a couple hundred yards and drop it on the bottom with a weight. He said a guy hooked 15 one day off the 75th Street beach last week. Inshore action is still good for trout in deeper seagrass flats, redfish are in small schools in almost all the bays, and snook are moving into flats and canals but still being caught off beaches.
Capt. Mark Johnston said he’s catching large mangrove snapper by the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, plus Spanish mackerel. Black drum and redfish are thick in Anna Maria Sound as well.
Capt. Sam Kimball said he’s catching limit-size grouper offshore, plus large Spanish mackerel, bonita and kingfish.
Capt. Mark Howard on SumoTime Charters said fall patterns have appeared for fishing. “The redfish bite has heated up with the falling water temperatures,” he said. He’s been putting charters on lots of reds more than 30 inches in length, plus speckled trout, bluefish, pompano and mackerel in the bays. He’s also catching lots of sharks in Tampa Bay.
At the Rod & Reel Pier in Anna Maria, Bob Kilb said anglers there have been catching too-big-to-keep reds, plus snapper.
At the Anna Maria City Pier, Rocky Corby said there are still some tarpon hookups taking place, as well as Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper and some big flounder.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina in Cortez said he is finding that “fish don't like pretty weather. The early fall front last week was really great comfort-wise, but a cold front is still a cold front and that big old high with its bluebird skies kind of put the damper on the bite for a few days.” He’s been on mostly inshore trips, catching trout, mackerel, snapper, grouper and bluefish. “Snook and reds have been favoring the bottom of the tides and the edges of deeper cuts and boat channels,” Capt. Zach said. He’s finding that snapper fishing remains strong. Bait is still plentiful with a good variety of species and sizes. “There is a huge amount of ballyhoo in the bays. Hard to keep alive, but if you don’t overcrowd them they have been keeping good in the well for up to four hours. “The ballyhoo are killer kingfish bait,” he said, adding that king mackerel are starting to show offshore and should be thick offshore in the next few weeks. He’s also seeing some cobia, plus bonito and flounder as fall progresses.
Good luck and good fishing.
Fishing news and photos are welcome and may be submitted to Paul Roat by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.