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Date of Issue: March 30, 2005

Fishing
Gigantic gag
Mark Nelson of Bradenton caught this 36-pound gag grouper while fishing with Capt. Hank Williams out of Palmetto last week.
Click on image to enlarge
Great-size redfish
Captain Mike Heistand caught and released this 28-inch redfish while fishing with Gwen Mathews and Chris Christman.
Click on image to enlarge

Fall fishing improves daily: Snook, red, grouper action great

Cobia are starting to make their fall migration right now, with reports of three or four catches being caught this week.

Inshore action for snook and redfish remains great, with limit-catches of reds the norm.

Offshore angling for grouper, snapper and some really big amberjack also continue the good fishing forecast.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said big snook are being caught in the bay and beaches, but have not started to work really far into the backwater as yet, although there are lots of reports of redfish coming from all the bays. Offshore fishing for grouper and snapper remains excellent, and cobia are starting to make their fall run.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said anglers there are catching redfish, snook, a few snapper and lots of yellowtail jacks. Some of the snook were up to 32 inches, with nighttime fishing working best for the biggest linesiders, and there was also a legal-size grouper landed.

Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said snook are biting well in the early morning hours, plus some redfish, mackerel, a few mangrove snapper, plus some small sharks and flounder.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said lots of trout and redfish are starting to show up at the dock from Terra Ceia Bay, plus some big yellowtail jacks and snapper are coming off the dock pilings, some shark catches near the outside of Terra Ceia, and flounder are starting their fall spawning season.

Capt. Ray Markham said he's finding fall fishing to be great after all the weeks of bad weather. "Snook are in a full transition mode, coming from the beaches and heading into the backcountry, making stops on mangrove points, at creek mouths, and moving into rivers," In Terra Ceia and St. Joe bays, he was able to get into a nice-sized 28-inch linesider, plus some trout.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said snook season is going very well for his charters, with fish up to 36 inches being caught. There are also good quantities of redfish being reeled, with limit catches every day pretty much the rule. He's also adding snapper and mackerel to the cooler most trips.

Teresa Baranowski at Perico Island Bait and Tackle said there are big trout being caught by Gilligan's Island north of the Anna Maria Island Bridge, some up to 22 inches in length, plus redfish in Palma Sola Bay, snapper along the Intracoastal Waterway and Spanish mackerel are starting to show up again.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said he's getting into a real mixed bag of fish: mackerel, snapper, cobia, flounder and small grouper out in the Gulf, with reds, snook and trout in the bays.

Capt. Hank Williams said his offshore fishing has been good with gag grouper up to 30 pounds, red grouper to 20 pounds, and plenty of mangrove snapper to 5 pounds.

Capt. Matt Denham out of Catchers said he's getting amberjack to 50 pounds out in the Gulf, plus gag grouper to 25 pounds, red grouper to 20 pounds and mangrove and yellowtail snapper to 5 pounds.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said he's finding lots of mackerel along the beaches, plus some 5-foot-long lemon sharks. In the bays, he's getting his charters onto trout to 25 inches, redfish to 28 inches, snook to 30 inches, also flounder, bluefish and big jacks.

On my boat Magic, we caught several redfish to 27 inches last week, trout to 22 inches, some keeper-size snook, a 38-inch cobia and a few good-size flounder.

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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