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Date of Issue: November 11, 2009

Trout season cools, while snook catch heats up

Trout season closed Nov. 1 for two months, which makes this is an excellent time to target trout.

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Eric Bergan caught this nice snook while fishing last week with Capt. Mark Howard of Sumotime Charters.

Fish are on the move, with Spanish mackerel coming through the bays from the north as they head to the Florida Keys for warmer winter waters.

Capt. Zach Zacharias out of Cortez says he heard reports from the panhandle around Destin that indicate hot action on cobia and kingfish, which could mean great action for us with those species in November and December.

Snook are slowly trickling to backcountry waters, and many can be found on the leading edges of Terra Ceia, the mouth of the Manatee River, Perico Bayou, or on flats just inside passes. That said, there still are good numbers of linesiders off the beaches that may remain there through December.

Capt. Rick Gross of the charter boat Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Homes Beach reported that he had success with redfish in Palma Sola Bay, and even reported a 42-inch red landed Oct. 26, a breeder from the Gulf that made its way to the backwater areas of north Sarasota Bay. He also reported skipping pompano around the mouth of the Manatee River that were hitting 1/4-ounce Docs Jiggs. “I’m hoping we’ll have a good run of pompano,” Gross said. He said that off the beaches, he wasn’t catching kingfish or bluefish like he should have been, but was getting more bonito than anything.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams also out of Catchers Marina said he fished another surge of kingfish and Spanish mackerel in 40 feet of water, and cobia had been around wrecks 18 to 24 miles off the beaches. Spanish mackerel of 4-5 pounds have invaded the bays. Snook have been running 22-26 inches in the bays, and anglers should get on them at night or in the morning before other fishers put pressure on them.

Richard Leitz from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge south pier said Spanish mackerel have been real plentiful and of good sizes. He attributed the high numbers to the migratory fish that are moving from the Panhandle to the Keys. The pier bait shop sells 2- and 3-ounce mackerel rigs that come with 7- to 10-foot monofilament leaders and silver spoons at the end. Leitz said he’ll go with a gold spoon when the water is murky and a silver spoon in clear waters. He’s also seen and heard reports of pompano and king mackerel showing up near the bridge.

Ted Pasky at the Rod & Reel Pier said action around the pier has included a few small snook, a hammerhead shark, some mangrove snapper, early sheepshead and a few Spanish mackerel. He said the snook have hit better at night. He added that the redfish action has slowed.

Rocky Corby at the Anna Maria City Pier said anglers there have been decking some flounder. He said one man recently pulled in a 19-incher. He added that mangrove snapper are around, as well as sheepshead, although few anglers seem to be targeting the sheepies. An occasional snook has been hooked as well.

Capt. Zach Zacharias of the Dee Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina in Cortez said normal fishing patterns have been disrupted by unseasonably hot air and water temperatures, punctuated by early, strong cold snaps. He said that “in the past couple of weeks, whitebait has been an easy mark. Plentiful bait in a wide variety of sizes is available on the grass flats and has been productive for trout, mackerel, kings, bonito, bluefish and snapper. While live pilchards are widely regarded as the premium bait for snook, and to a lesser extent, redfish, they have not been as productive yet this season. Fresh-cut ladyfish, snakefish, mullet and pinfish  have out-produced live offerings both in numbers and size of reds and snook for me in the past few weeks.” Although cut bait has always been successful for Zacharias in deeper cuts and holes at the bottom of big tides, he’s also been baiting with chunks of cut bait tight to the bushes at high tide.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me the Fish Charters says his offshore parties are catching gag and red grouper, smoker kingfish, large cobia, amberjack, mangrove snapper, porgys, triggerfish, big barracudas and they’ve seen some shark frenzies.

Send fishing reports and photos to fish@islander.org.

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