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Date of Issue: March 30, 2005

Fishing
'Great day of fishing' Michael Gennett of Philadelphia, Pa., and friends did a little offshore fishing with Capt. Matt Denham aboard the charter boat "Riptide," and brought back a great catch of snapper, grouper, redfish, kingfish and tuna. The best action came in about 190 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico.
Click on image to enlarge

Kings run offshore; snook, reds, flounder great action in backwater

It's all about the weather.

Calm days brought back great catches of grouper and snapper offshore last week, plus the kingfish that are running past Anna Maria Island.

Rough days with high winds and heavy seas ... well, never mind getting out in the Gulf of Mexico.

Backwater action for redfish, snook, catch-and-release trout and some big flounder continues to be great, and early indications of good sheepshead fishing means the winter should be a great time to catch some of the tasty bandit fish.

Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he's putting his charters onto redfish to 22 inches, flounder to 17 inches and lots of catch-and-release trout, all caught in Joe's Bay or Terra Ceia with artificial lures working the best for him.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said the kingfish run is on in full force, with catches of up to 30 pounds, with best results coming from trolling for kings. Grouper fishing has been excellent, Bill said, with the fish moving into the 60-foot-depth range. Inshore, redfish are the best bet right now, plus there are lots of flounder and sheepshead being caught.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said there was a great day last week, with lots of mackerel, black drum, a few redfish and snook, plus flounder, sheepshead and snapper, but the weather played a role in keeping the fish, and fishers, hunkered down.

Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said sheepshead are back. Anglers there are also catching some mackerel, and although a few big snook are hanging around the pier, the lunky linesiders don't seem to be biting. Flounder and snapper, plus some blacktip sharks, are a good but, Cliff added, with the sharks running to about 3 feet in length.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said there are lots of reports of mackerel being caught in front of Terra Ceia Bay along the rocks, plus big snook in the cut and flounder. Mullet are full of roe right now for castnetters, too.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said fishing for really big snook has been excellent last week, with some catches up to 25 pounds. There are also good redfish coming in the slot limit, as well as mackerel and flounder.

Teresa Baranowski at the Perico Island Bait and Tackle said there are lots of redfish being caught on the seagrass flats, snook are lurking in the canals now, trout action is fast and furious even though the season is closed, and there are lots of reports of sheepshead being caught. Offshore, grouper action is good in about 60 feet of water.

At the Sunshine Skyway Bridge Piers, mackerel are a good bet if you're using green shiners as bait. Other highlights include speckled trout and sheepshead on the incoming tides.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said fishing is still really good, when you can get out. "I am still putting my clients on gag grouper to 15 pounds, red grouper to 12 pounds, mangrove snapper to 5 pounds, a few yellowtail snapper and sharks to 5 feet. We have been fishing out to 115 feet of water, using live pinfish and frozen Spanish sardines," he added.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said he's finding snook to be his mainstay now, with excellent catches up to 25 pounds. Other action includes reds, mackerel and flounder.

Capt. Hank Williams said he's been doing well with grouper to 25 pounds, both red and gag. He's also catching a few kingfish and mangrove snapper to 4 pounds.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said one of his charters last week caught a 20-pound kingfish on light tackle, as well as a legal-size grouper, and a 30-pound barracuda caught in the bays, which, as he put it, was "kinda odd."

On my boat Magic, we caught snook to 15 pounds, reds to 26 inches in length, catch-and-release trout to 22 inches, flounder to 18 inches and mangrove snapper to 17 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 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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