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Date of Issue: October 22, 2008

Kings continue to reign offshore; macks everywhere, too

Fishing pic
Shark season
Dennis Elder, left, and Bev Welsh and Bill Welsh from Ontario, Canada, caught these reef sharks while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters. Other catches that day included grouper and snapper, all caught in 45 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico using sardines for bait.

Between the kingfish catches and the mackerel haul, it’s tough to throw a line in the water and not reel in something exciting.

The annual fall kingfish run is in high gear, with the fish packing the Gulf of Mexico waters off Anna Maria Island anywhere from 1-12 miles out. Mackerel are also in the same waters. Farther offshore, good catches of grouper and snapper persist, as well as some amberjack and cobia.

Fishing for trout, redfish and snook is excellent in the backwater, although the fish are running a little small. Sharks are everywhere in the backwaters as well, especially in Terra Ceia Bay.

How to catch local catches from a local charter fishing guide will be offered for six consecutive Thursdays at the Longboat Key Education Center, 5370 Gulf of Mexico Drive.

Capt. Rick Ehlis will offer his insights on catching fish from his 38 years as a fishing captain.

Class starts at 3 p.m. Nov. 6 and will continue for six weeks, except for Thanksgiving, through Dec. 18. Cost is $85 for center members, $95 for non-members.

For more information, call 941-383-8811, or go to www.LBKeducationcenter.org.

As for the local catch:

Capt. Sam Kimball out of Annie’s Bait & Tackle on Cortez Road said he’s putting his charters onto lots of kingfish in the Gulf up to 12 miles from shore. Grouper and snapper are stable and getting better by the day, he added.

Capt. Mark Johnston, also out of Annie’s, said he’s reeling in limit catches of redfish and snook. The linesiders take some sorting, he said, to cull the big ones from all the little fish.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said kingfish are everywhere offshore, ranging from a mile off of Anna Maria Island in the Gulf to 12 miles. Bigger fish seem to be farther out, he said. In the 100-foot depths, amberjack and cobia are hitting well. Grouper and snapper are also a good catch, and expected to only get better once the water cools just a little bit more. For backwater fishers, snook are a good target, although there seem to be more little linesiders than big ones. Redfish are also plentiful but small, most in the 22- to 25-inch range.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said mackerel are thick around the pier, with some big kingfish mixed in. There are also good catches of redfish and snook at night.

Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier said kingfish have moved close to the pier and are snapping away at hooks. Mackerel are also a good catch, plus redfish and snook, although the best linesider action is coming after dark.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he’s hearing reports of big snook — a 25-plus linesider, one boat that caught a 42 inch monster and another with a 44-incher.

At Tropic Isles Marina, reports are that trout are thick in Terra Ceia Bay. Sharks are also everywhere there — just go out in the middle of the bay and start to drift for the best hookups.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he’s doing very well on snook and kingfish.

Capt. Mark Bradow said he’s hammering kingfish just off the beaches.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina saidhe took Cindy and Rich Mlakar from Tucson, Ariz., and local friend Sandy Smith to “a slew of jumbo Spanish mackerel off of Anna Maria Island. We had a number of true smoker kings absolutely annihilating our chum baits. Several were hooked, but nosas landings.” However, the day was not over. They moved to northern Sarasota Bay for a solid catch of snook, redfish, spotted sea trout and jack crevalle. “It seems as if the beach action for the kings and mackerel is early in the morning when the tide is either tailing out to a low or just beginning to flow in,” Capt. Zach advised. “Whitebait is very thick all along the beaches and on the flats back in the bay. Most of the inshore species are really beginning to prefer whitebait now and will probably continue until the bait has left for the winter, when shrimp will take over as the premium bait.” He’s also seeing lots of sheepshead on the flats.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he’s catching just about everything the Gulf can offer: gag and red grouper, amberjack, kingfish, Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper, hogfish, barracuda and reef sharks. He’s even catching some big tarpon in Sarasota Bay and near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay. He’s finding live bait to work well to entice fish to a hook.

On my boat Magic, we’re catching upwards of 14 redfish per trip out of Sarasota Bay, plus lots of small trout and snook. We’re seeing sharks everywhere.

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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