This rare catch of a hog snapper was caught by Judy Wolfe while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire. The fish was caught on live shrimp in about 60 feet of water. Also boated on the Gulf charter were gag grouper to 15 pounds and many mangrove snapper to 7 pounds.
Cold, winds hold boats at bay, reds still out there
Fishing slowed last week with the high winds, rough seas and rain, but for those willing to brave the elements offshore, grouper and snapper remained a mainstay.
Backwater fishing for reds and flounder is also good, with the best action coming from docks in the bays.
Remember that snook and trout season has closed, so if you catch 'em, be sure to release 'em.
Lee Gause at Perico Harbor Bait & Tackle said shrimp are really big right now. Anglers coming to the docks were reporting catches of good-sized snook while the season was still on, plus good redfish catches. Sheepshead are being caught off the Anna Maria Bridge, with the best action for reds coming from the Manatee Public Beach pier.
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he was able to catch redfish from 18 to 24 inches near Joe's Island, plus a few 17-inch flounder and some sheepshead to 4 pounds. The reds were working best on gold spoons and Mr. Twisters, while the sheepies were hitting on shrimp.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said weather played a major role in last week's fishing, cold, wet and windy days slowed fishing a bit, but for those willing to go out in the Gulf or bays, there were good catches of sheepshead, pompano and whiting off the beaches, and redfish in the bays.
Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters guided Harold Graves of Rossville, Ind., to a limit catch of gag grouper to 15 pounds and mangrove snapper to 5 pounds last week, with the best action coming from frozen sardines and live shrimp in about 75 feet of water. He also took out Bill Mackson's party and caught 70 mangrove snapper to 5 pounds and gag grouper to 15 pounds.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he's still hearing good reports of black drum being caught in the Manatee River, mostly in the 4- to 8-pound range. Some sheepshead were caught off the rocks near Rattlesnake Point, and a few keeper-size redfish are being caught in Terra Ceia Bay.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said sheepshead and redfish were his good bets last week, with good action in Buttonwood Harbour, as well as a few catch-and-release trout.
Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said he's getting into some good-sized redfish around the docks in the bay, plus sheepshead to 4 pounds.
Capt. Matt Denham on the Rip-Tide out of Catchers said it was pretty much too rough for him to get out last week, but he did manage one trip and caught several keeper red grouper, snapper, triggerfish and a few amberjack.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said sheepshead fishing is starting to get into full swing right now. He's also catching a few redfish around the docks in the bay.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said the best that could be caught at the pier last week were some sheepshead and some black drum.
Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said best action there was with sheepshead, flounder and black drum.
On my boat Magic, we have been catching some keeper-size reds to 26 inches, several smaller redfish and a few good-sized sheepshead.
Good luck and good fishing.
Capt. Mike Heistand is a 20-year fishing guide. Call him at 779-9607 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 firstname.lastname@example.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.