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Date of Issue: March 30, 2005

Fishing
Grouper, snapper catch on
Mary Lenord of Bradenton, fishing Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters, caught this grouper and snapper last week.
Click on image to enlarge

Fall fishing picking up: Kings starting to move offshore

Fall has finally hit, and so have the fish.

Kingfish are starting their fall-winter run, snook are really hitting and moving into the backwaters, and offshore grouper are getting really, really hungry.

Oh, and sheepshead are starting to congregate around structures in the passes and bays.

Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he went out last Friday and caught a bunch of redfish, more than 30 trout up to 23 inches in length, all from Mister Twister, Exudes or DOA Deadly artificial, plus others from his secret cache. Tidy Island, Longboat Point and Buttonwood Harbor were his "secret" spots, he added.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said the kingfish run has begun with some 20- to 30-pound kings being brought to the docks. Grouper fishing is also great right now with the calmer weather offshore. Backwater action for redfish is the best bet there, and trout are still running to good sizes.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said fishers there are getting into small grouper, redfish, drum, sheepshead, and lots of mullet are schooling around the pier. Mackerel fishing of late has been slow, though, he said.

Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said anglers were doing OK with snook before daylight, plus catching a few mackerel, redfish, flounder, and there are a few good catches of jack. Bait is thick around the pier right now, Cliff added.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he's seeing lots of trout coming back from Terra Ceia Bay, plus reds from Miguel Bay, black drum from the Manatee River and good-size snook from the cut.

Sunshine Skyway Bait and Tackle crew reports good catches of mackerel on the tide changes, plus small grouper, redfish and drum at night, and big jacks.

Capt. Hank Williams said he's getting his clients onto kingfish to 25 pounds, grouper to 20 pounds, snapper to 4 pounds, plus a slew of kingfish. Bottom fishing should get better every day, he predicted.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he's finding good-size snook for his clients, plus lots and lots of redfish and big trout.

Teresa Baraonwski the Perico Island Bait and Tackle said wade fishers are catching good-size trout on falling tides, redfish on the lower tides, and boaters and getting snapper and mackerel by the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said his charters are catching a lot of cobia right now, plus limit catches of snook, redfish and trout.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said it bluntly: "Fishing is really hot right now." He's putting his charters onto gag grouper to 15 pounds, red grouper to 12 pounds, mangrove snapper to 6 pounds, plus a 3-pound hog snapper, kingfish to 15 pounds, sharks to 5 feet, all fishing from 15 to 45 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico in 65 to 145 feet of water using live pinfish and frozen sardines as bait.

Capt. Ray Markham said he took Larry Rudisill and father Larry Sr., of St. Petersburg, to Terra Ceia Bay Sunday. They also worked areas around the Bulkhead and the Manatee River for snook and trout. "We found several redfish in lower Tampa Bay," Capt. Ray said, "and close to a dozen flounder were also caught on CAL jerk worms and shad tails. The day was beautiful, perhaps too nice, but we still ended up with Larry Sr. and myself with Grand Slams, and Larry only lacking a redfish." Capt. Ray said that his Sunday trip echoed a hookup the day before with what he believes as the same fish, a rare bay barracuda, about the only hookup he's made in the bay in 15 years of fishing. "I honestly think this is the same fish that we caught and released the day before," he said. "It was again an unusual catch to behold in Terra Ceia." Capt. Ray added that the full moon coming up Wednesday should produce some great tides for snook, trout, and reds, plus flounder along with a few cobia and some Spanish mackerel and bluefish.

Capt. Sam Kimball on Legend charters out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said he's found bottom-fishing has picked up thanks to the cooler weather, with good catches of gag grouper and big grunts in the 50-foot-deep range in the Gulf. Kingfish have started to hit, and he's putting his charters onto some barracuda, snapper and a few mackerel as well.

On my boat Magic, we've been able to get out a lot of days and caught lots of redfish, a few small sharks, some keeper-size snook, trout up to 23 inches, flounder to 18 inches and some mangrove snapper.

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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