Snapper, reds, snook, grouper all good catches
Cooler water temperatures are producing some great fishing, both inshore and off.
Backwater fishers report good catches of snapper, snook and redfish, as well as a few trout.
Out in the Gulf of Mexico, reports are excellent for grouper and snapper, plus some wahoo and dolphin.
Capt. Sam Kimball of Annie’s Bait & Tackle on Cortez Road said grouper and snapper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico is excellent right now, as well as mackerel and barracuda. Capt. Mark Johnson, also out of Annie’s, said his backwater charters are producing good-size snook, plenty of redfish, snapper and mackerel.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said fishing is good right now, both inshore and out in the Gulf. Backwater fishers are producing lots of redfish and snapper - snapper are “everywhere,” Bill said, and snook are still a good bet. For those who want to go offshore, red grouper are biting in about 100 feet of water, there was a real good snapper catch, some up to 5 pounds, and some wahoo, dolphin and tuna are also being caught.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee Jay II said nearshore Gulf waters are “coming alive with Spanish mackerel, and there are some juvenile kingfish mixed in with them. Look for a kingfish run to materialize here soon after the first cold front manages to clear the region. Mangrove snapper are still strong, with some of them heading for the deeper, highly structured backwaters and the rest retreating to the open Gulf reefs and wrecks.” He added that tarpon are still around, noting that there seem to be more tarpon wintering in the area of late. Sarasota and Palma Sola bays are speckled trout, blues, jacks, ladyfish, shark and pompano on good tides in the deeper seagrass flats. All the bay fish are hitting on artificials or live bait. There are also good catches of redfish and snook from the bays.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said anglers there are doing well with snapper, mackerel, a few snook, jacks, blue runners and ladyfish, with the latter being very thick right now.
Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said he’s seeing fishers reeling in some mackerel, snapper, small bonnethead sharks and some good-size snook, with the linesiders coming in mostly at night.
At Corky's Live Bait & Tackle on Cortez Road, Annamae Lahay said that Palma Sola Bay has been a great fishing spot for redfish, spotted sea trout - although a bit small -and snook. “Remember, you can only keep one legal-size snook per day,” she said. Legal size is 28- to 33-inches in length. “Select” shrimp are the most successful bait. Sarasota Bay has been good for redfish and some smaller-sized spotted sea trout. The Intracoastal Waterway and the beaches have been great for mangrove snapper, some Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, sheepshead, small-size catch-and-release grouper and, of course, snook, Annamae said. “Bean Point has been good for some blues and ladyfish, plus shark fishing, especially when the fishermen are using bonita and/or mullet.”
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he’s getting good reports of snook coming out of Terra Ceia Bay, with several boats coming in with keeper-size fish up to 33 inches. Snapper are still a good catch on the rocks outside of Terra Ceia, he added.
At Tropic Isles Marina, reports include lots of small blacktip sharks in Terra Ceia Bay, with shrimp working the best for the biggest catches. In the middle of the bay, look to catch redfish on a drift.
On my boat Magic, we caught more than 100 redfish last week, most in the slot limit, but some more than 30 inches in length. We also caught some keeper-size snook and limit catches of snapper on most days, plus trout to 20 inches.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.