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Date of Issue: November 01, 2007

Fall brings a fishy migration, plus hot action

Fishing pic
Anna Maria's finest with a fine catch Manatee County Sheriff's Office Sgt. John Kenney, who heads up the substation in Anna Maria City, caught this red grouper while fishing with Capt. Anthony Manali aboard the "Legmakr."

With fall weather upon us, cooler air and water temperatures, and a migration of fish from one spot to another, it’s an excellent time to dip a line in the water.

Redfish are moving around a lot, as are snook. Start to look for both species in canals right now. Big bull reds are also at the mouth of Palma Sola Bay.

Offshore action is all kingfish and mackerel, all very close to shore. Best bet is to follow the traveling whitebait along the shore. Grouper are still biting in the Gulf of Mexico.

And there are reports that pompano may start to bite off the passes and beaches any day now, with jigs seeming to be the best way to start your fishing day.

Annamae Lahay at Corky's Live Bait, Tackle, & Snack Shop on Cortez Road said that Palma Sola Bay is continuously the "hot" spot for redfish. The Intracoastal waters at Longboat Pass have been good for mangrove snapper, Spanish mackeral, whiting, bluefish, some pompano and sheepshead and, of course, snook. Live shrimp have been the item that has attracted most of these species onto the hook and onto the grill. The Bean Point area of Anna Maria has seen quite a few Spanish mackeral, large blues, and sharks. Spanish mackeral seem to be attracted to bright, shiny gold or silver spoons, and bluefish are hitting on large live shrimp. The shark have been caught by using “Corky’s Special" shark-blended liquid chum and a piece of bonita.

Capt. Thom Smith out of Annie’s Bait & Tackle on Cortez Road said he’s running into problems with dolphin snagging catches once they’re on the line. Tampa Bay seems to be a particular problem spot for “Flipper” to flip off your hooked fish. “I'm sure this has happened for a long time,” he said, “but for the past few years, it seems to be getting to be a regular routine at the Skyway piers and in the channel.” Capt. Thom said that with water temps dropping, kingfish and lots of Spanish mackerel have moved in and near the beaches of Anna Maria Island. Over the past few weeks, water temperatures have dropped a few more degrees and kingfish and lots of Spanish mackerel have moved in near the beach. “That leads me to the barracuda,” he said. “Barracuda love mackeral. When you're fishing for mackerel in the Gulf, there's a good chance you'll have a barracuda chomp down on your mack and all you end up with is a head.” He concluded that bait is good.

Aaron Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said inshore fishing for redfish is really starting to pick up, but in different places. “They’re going into their fall pattern,” he said, “heading into the canals and bayous.” Big reds are also schooling in front of Palma Sola Bay and around the edges of flats, with the fish running in the 15- to 20-pound range. Canal reds are smaller, with the largest up to 25 inches in length. Snook are moving off the beaches and into the mouths of canals and creek. Aaron said that offshore action for kingfish and sharks is terrific - “They’re everywhere, starting about 500 yards from shore,” he said. Mackerel are also a good bet in the Gulf, as are grouper along the edges of the Tampa Bay shipping channel, with trolling working the best. He added a prediction: the fall pompano run should start any day, with yellow jigs cast in the passes and off the beaches promising the best results.

Tom Chaya of Dolphin Dreams out of Catchers said that kingfish, Spanish mackerel, sharks and a few cobia were landed this week on the reefs in 40 -50 feet of water. Some red grouper and a variety of snapper along with some triggerfish were being caught in the same areas. In the backwater on the good tides, he’s finding reds still schooling around the sandbars and quite a few snook are around deeper cuts on the flats.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said fishers there are catching a lot of mackerel, some small snapper, a few snook plus redfish and flounder.

Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said mackerel are running strong, but the tarpon show is slowing. There was one cobia hooked but lost, but the nice snapper action more than made up for it. “Snook are hitting like crazy,” he added, “especially in the morning.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said fishing is great. He’s catching kingfish, grouper and snapper offshore.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina saidcooler weather is producing pretty hot fishing action. “It is the last week of open season for speckled trout,” he said, “and I can happily report that fishing for them is pretty good. There are a lot of shorts out there, but some quality fish as well in the 15- 22-inch range. Some of our best trout fishing occurs in November and December, and the peak season closure should go a long way to help the recovery from the devastating red tides a couple of years ago.” He’s also catching snook, redfish, jack, ladyfish, blues, small sharks and lots of juvenile gag grouper. Offshore he’s putting his charters onto king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, cobia, bonito and snapper. “I have heard of permit just off Anna Maria Island and some migrating tarpon on their way south, but I have not encountered either myself this week,” he added.

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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