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Date of Issue: March 30, 2005

Fishing
Big bunch of fish
Capt. Larry McGuire took Cordell Green and friends from Lakeland out in the Gulf of Mexico last week and brought back a good catch of snapper, kingfish, sharks and grouper.
Click on image to enlarge

Kings shift closer to shore; snook, redfish thick in backwater

Fishing reports from the Anna Maria Island piers have been somewhat slow in the past few days, but there are still catches of redfish, snook, mackerel and flounder coming in.

Backwater action for reds and snook is excellent right now, and there are even some reports of good-size catch-and-release trout.

Offshore fishing for grouper and snapper is picking up, with most fish caught in about 100 feet of water. The kingfish run has moved closer to shore, too.

Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he caught some keeper-size snook last week, redfish and catch-and-release trout to 22 inches in length, all using artificial lures.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said fishing overall has been pretty good, both inshore and offshore. In the backwaters, snook are moving into their wintertime haunts in the bays, and redfish action remains steady and good. Offshore, grouper and snapper fishing is getting better by the day, with most fish caught in less than 100 feet of water. Kingfish are also being caught within sight of land in the Gulf of Mexico.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he's finding fishing to still be "real hot, some of the best fishing of the year!" He said he's been putting charters onto gag and red grouper to 15 pounds, mangrove snapper to 6 pounds, lane snapper to 2 pounds, kingfish to 15 pounds, Spanish mackerel to 4 pounds and blacktip sharks to 5 feet in length. Most of the action is in about 120 feet of water around 30 miles offshore, he added.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said best bets there are redfish, black drum, snook, mackerel, sheepshead and lots of flounder.

Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said anglers there are finding the fishing action a little slow, but are able to reel in a few flounder and some mackerel. Sheepshead are starting to come close to the pilings, as are some bonnethead sharks, small grouper and a couple redfish.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said there are some really big snook hanging around the dock, some up to 35 pounds. Flounder are really hitting right now in and around Terra Ceia Bay, and one lucky boater caught an 80-pound cobia last week.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said that now that trout season is closed, his backwater charters have targeted snook and redfish with excellent results. He's catching snook up to 35 inches in length, reds to 28 inches, and some flounder.

Teresa Baranowski at Perico Island Bait and Tackle said wade fishers are catching lots of redfish on the seagrass on the lower tides. Boating anglers are catching lots of mackerel, snapper and flounder by the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

At the Sunshine Skyway Bridge Piers, action includes a few small grouper, Spanish mackerel in the mornings, some kingfish and flounder are coming on strong.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said he's catching mangrove snapper, cobia and mackerel in the Gulf, with snook, redfish and flounder being his highlights of bay fishing.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said snook fishing remains steady for his clients, with some bigger fish being caught on pinfish. Redfish were scattered, as were flounder, and he was able to catch a few pompano.

Capt. Ray Markham said snook fishing has been somewhat slow for him and, although he did catch about 30 linesiders last week, he expected better action. He's finding Spanish mackerel and bluefish to be active around the Sunshine Skyway, and added that "the real sleeper of the week had to be flounder. More often than not, bouncing or dragging the DOA CAL grub tail on quarter-ounce jig heads over sandy edges of channels and potholes would lead me to some quality flatties up to 3 pounds."

On my boat Magic, we've been hitting lots of redfish on the lower tides, with most fish caught within the slot limit to 27 inches, plus a few nice-size flounder and 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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