Lori Sebastian, from Winter Haven, caught this nice-sized red grouper while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire.
Go fish: Weather's good, backwater fishing is hot, what's for dinner?
As one guide put it, "The scourge of red tide appears to be behind us, and better fishing is ahead." Let's hope so.
Backwater action is still featuring snook, redfish, trout and some good-size flounder, although the signs are pointing toward fewer snapper catches.
Offshore fishing for grouper and snapper is still good, but the best fishing remains farther offshore than usual - like 125-plus feet.
Sheepshead fishing on both of the Tampa Bay piers is being reported, which is odd and very early for the convict-fish catch. Go figure.
On my boat Magic, we've been catching redfish on every trip out in the bays, with the spotties running pretty much to 26 inches. A few keeper-size snook were also hooked and kept, as well as flounder, snapper and trout, but those big reds are the best bet right now.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said redfish and snook are the inshore catches right now, while offshore angling for grouper and snapper are great. The fishing is still more than 30 miles out in the Gulf for the better catches.
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said his catches have included redfish to 24 inches, lots of small snook and grouper near the Bird Key area of Terra Ceia Bay, with most catches coming from DOA plastic shrimp.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said pier fishers are catching a few sheepshead and pompano, plus some whiting, redfish and black drum.
Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said anglers there are catching a little bit of everything: Snapper, flounder, mackerel and snook, with the linesiders coming on mostly at night.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said mangrove snapper are leaving the bays but people are coming in now with redfish and flounder to make up for the loss of the mangos. Big snook are being sighted in the mornings near the dock, Dave added, but nobody seems to be able to get them to bite.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he's having a lot of luck with snook right now, with some linesiders stretching out to better than 30 inches. His other backwater action has included redfish and flounder.
At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, reports include redfish catches - lots of them - on the lower tides around Perico Island. Trout and snook are running, but the fish seem to be running on the small size. Mackerel are a good bet, though, with some good hookups from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge region of Tampa Bay.
At Skyway Bait and Tackle, reports include mackerel on incoming tides, mostly in the mornings. There are also some flounder and small bonnethead sharks coming into the dock, as well as keeper-size grouper from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge area.
Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said that he's finding fishing to be good offshore. "We have been fishing out past 100 feet, and our clients are catching lots of gag grouper up to 20 pounds, some red grouper, lots of mangrove snapper and yellowtail snapper. We are also catching red snapper in about 125 feet of water, with live pinfish, live Key West grunts and frozen Spanish sardines working best for us for bait.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's said fishing has "jumped from the frying pan into the fire this week. After a long wait for red tide-free fishing, the weather took a nose dive for a couple of days last week, but, for those willing to brave the elements, things were pretty upbeat." He said he took Alan Schram from Greensboro, N.C., to a catch of around 18 to 20 snook. Scott Schnieder and sons Luke and Zach from Indianapolis, Ind., did "pretty well on big ball bat-size Spanish mackerel, sharks, small grouper and snook on an incoming tide in the vicinity of the Skyway and Terra Ceia Bay. The day started out dark and rainy but at midday the skies cleared and it turned out to be a beautiful day."
Good luck and good Fishing.
Capt. Mike Heistand is a 20-year-plus "ishing guide. Call him at 723-1107 to provide a "ishing report. Prints and digital images o" your catch are also welcome and may be dropped o"" at The Islander, 5404 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, or e-mailed to email@example.com. Please include identi"ication "or persons in the picture along with in"ormation on the catch and a name and phone number "or more in"ormation. Snapshots may be retrieved once they appear in the paper.