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Date of Issue: March 30, 2005

Fishing

Just for the halibut
Michael "Craig" Southwick Jr., left, and Michael Southwick Sr. of Bradenton Beach brought a copy of The Islander along with them as they went fishing in Alaska. Their catch included a 180-pound halibut caught by Craig, plus yelloweye and cod.
Click on image to enlarge

Baby, it's COLD on the water, but sheepies don't care

Cold, wet weather kept many fishers close to the fireplace last week, but for those brave enough to meet the weather head-on, the fishing reports were good.

Gag and red grouper are moving closer to the Island, with good catches coming from less than 50-foot depths in the Gulf of Mexico. Snapper action is also good offshore.

Inshore fishing for sheepshead is only getting better by the day, and redfish action is improving as well.

There are also some big flounder being caught in the backwater, plus lots of catch-and-release trout, but very, very few snook are being hooked.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters reports that grouper fishing is great "when you can get out in between cold fronts." His clients have been catching gags to 15 pounds and mangroves to 5 pounds, as well as lane snapper, triggerfish, margates and other assorted reef fish, with most of the action in less than 60 feet of water with live pinfish and frozen sardines working best as bait.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said it's been pretty rough for the offshore anglers in the past few days, but fishing is good when it is calm enough to get out into the Gulf of Mexico. There have been good reports of gag and red grouper in less than 50 feet of water in the Gulf, plus lots of sheepshead catches in the backwaters and near any sort of structure. Sand fleas or fiddler crabs are a good bait for the big sheepies, Bill added.

Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he put his few charters onto small keeper-size redfish, a few sheepshead and catch-and-release trout.

Capt. Hank Williams said he made it out once last week and caught gag grouper to 16 pounds and mangrove snapper to 4 pounds off the artificial reefs.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said the cold fronts caused some damage to the pier and forced him to close for a few days, but it's up and running again and fishers are looking to continue their good catches of sheepshead.

Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said sheepshead are the pier fishers' mainstay right now, with just about anyone willing to dip a hook in the water able to pull up a striped fish or two. There are also good reports of black drum and flounder coming from the pier.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said the cold and rain have kept most fishers indoors, but for those who did get out on the water, sheepshead fishing has been excellent, as have been catches of black drum and mangrove snapper in the Manatee River.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said what with the wind and wet weather, the best he was able to get his charters onto was some redfish and sheepshead around the docks of the Island.

At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, reports continue to echo the weather issue, but those who went out on the water brought back good catches of sheepshead, catch-and-release trout and redfish just south of the Anna Maria Island Bridge.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said he's had a slow week as well due to the weather, but has done OK with sheepshead and redfish from the bays.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said fishing has been tough, but he was able to catch some sheepshead, redfish, catch-and-release trout and a few flounder.

Capt. Jason Ramsey said he caught pompano in Terra Ceia Bay last week, plus catch-and-release trout and a couple of redfish.

On my boat Magic, we were able to manage only two redfish and eight sheepshead on our lone trip out last week, but weather conditions are expected to improve and fishing, too.

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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