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Date of Issue: December 15, 2005

Fishing
Fishing pic
Lots of snook
Bev Ware of River Wilderness caught this 36-inch-long snook while fishing with Capt. Tom Chaya aboard the Dolphin Dreams.

Snook season comes to good end, grouper moving close to shore


Snook fishing for the waning days of the season has been terrific, with reports of lots of hookups of big linesiders. The season closes Dec. 15.

Sheepshead are also thick around any type of structure in the Gulf of Mexico or in the bays, and there are still a few redfish and catch-and-release trout being caught.

Offshore fishing for grouper is terrific, and the fish have moved closer to shore so the trips aren't as long. There are some reports of catches of legal-size gags within sight of land.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's said he took Gary Cox from Virginia, Fred Murrell from Cortez and Ed Zawadzky of Las Vegas to a catch of snook to 25 inches, redfish to 20 inches and sheepshead to 5 pounds on a half day trip last weekend. "A falling tide and live shrimp accounted for the action that took place mostly in north Sarasota Bay around deepwater docks," he said, adding that he also caught "a smattering of trout, flounder, jacks, ladyfish, bluefish and pompano."

Capt. Wayne Genthner of Wolfmouth Charters said "inshore fishing for grouper has been yielding catches of gags within a few miles of the beach out of Big Pass and the Venice Jetty. Inshore by Longboat Key has been yielding catches of large mangrove snapper and gag grouper in the 15-pound class, while our Tampa Bay excursions are producing keeper grouper caught on both sides of the channel east of the main span of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Snook and redfish are active on our evening trips around the canal lights, and beach fishing out of Big Pass around the rocks has been producing big redfish, cobia, bluefish and sheepshead."

Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he put his charters onto lots of snook and a few redfish near the docks in Terra Ceia Bay, plus a few catch-and-release trout using artificial bait.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said offshore grouper fishing couldn't be any better right now, with some legal-size grouper being caught within sight of the Island. Backwater fishing for snook is still good, but the season ends next week so go after the big linesiders now. Sheepies are also being caught everywhere there's any kind of structure in the water - docks, piers, rocks and of course near any of the artificial reefs.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said anglers there are catching mostly sheepshead, plus a few legal-size snook and a couple permit.

Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said the action there is pretty much sheepshead, with a few black drum and legal-size linesiders mixed in. Fiddler crabs and shrimp seem to be the best baits, he added.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said sheepshead are thick around the dock. There are lots of smaller snook moving around, with bigger catches coming at night. Black drum are also very plentiful in the Manatee River.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said that he's catching lots of big snook and mangrove snapper to 4 pounds on the offshore artificial reefs.

At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, reports include sheepshead by the Anna Maria Island Bridge and redfish near Price's Key at the mouth of Palma Sola Bay. Shrimp is the best bait for the best action, by the way.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said "Offshore fishing is absolutely outrageous right now.  Lots of large gag grouper, big mangrove snapper and yellowtail snapper have moved into our area for the Christmas season, and they are mean and hungry." He said that gag grouper are running to 20 pounds, snapper to 7 pounds, and he's putting his charters onto blacktip sharks, a few catch-and-release Goliath grouper and some small amberjacks. "December is my favorite time for grouper, so now is the time to get out there and get you some grouper," he added. Most fishing for him has been in about 110 feet of water in the Gulf, using live bait or Spanish sardines for the best results.

On my boat Magic, we've been catching a few redfish, lots of sheepshead and mangrove snapper to 4 pounds.

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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