Capt. Mike bids farewell and good fishing to all
This will be my last column as fishing writer for The Islander. It’s time to move on and do some other things.
I’d like to thank The Islander and staff, plus my loyal customers and readers. It seems hard to believe that it’s been almost 25 years since I’ve been writing this column for one newspaper or another.
We’re fortunate to have one of the best fishing spots in the world here in Tampa and Sarasota bays. Over the years, I’ve seen fishing remain pretty much constant. Big snook action has slowed over time, but all other species have remained the same or better during the year, with redfish really improving.
Thanks to all for a very, very good trip.
Capt. Sam Kimball out of Annie’s Bait & Tackle on Cortez Road said offshore fishing for gag grouper is excellent right now, with most of the fish caught within 20 miles of shore. He’s finding lots of snapper on the artificial reefs, too.
Capt. Mark Johnston of Annie’s said red fish and snapper are his best bets in the bays.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said offshore fishing for snapper and gag grouper has been phenomenal in the past week, with lots of big fish filling the coolers. There also are huge amberjack being caught. Backwater fishing is good for redfish and mackerel. There are lots of sea bass coming in off the Intracoastal Waterway as well. Snook are out there, but the catch is down a bit from last week.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said fishing for sheepshead, bluefish and mackerel has been good, as well as some black drum and redfish coming to the dock.
Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier said anglers there have been catching lots of small redfish, sheepshead and bluefish.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he’s seeing lots of redfish being caught up to 27 inches and mangrove snapper coming off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
At Tropic Isles Marina, reports include lots of redfish coming out of Terra Ceia Bay. Mangrove snapper are thick near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay. Shark fishers report good action in Terra Ceia Bay, with some bonnetheads coming in at 30 inches in length.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he’s finding snapper fishing to be excellent. He’s also catching his limit on redfish, although some days are better than others.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina saidhe took Charley Biddle from Rye, N.Y., and his crew out on their annual 20th anniversary Thanksgiving outing and caught a mixed bag mangrove snapper to 15 inches, black drum to 24 inches, sheepshead and redfish to 24 inches.
“Most of the action came in north Sarasota Bay and Palma Sola Bay on shrimp and cut bait,” Capt. Zach said. “The redfish in particular honed in on fresh-cut ladyfish chunks. Soaking cut bait has also been effective with snook since the water temps have plummeted to the mid-50s.”
He said the weekend cold front should bring on the typical winter fishing scheme, and he expects cobia and pompano action along the beaches and on the deeper seagrass flats near the inlets. Sheepshead should also start to hit well through March.
On my boat, we’ve been bringing in limit catches of snapper, plus hogfish to 4 pounds, bluenose porgies to 3 pounds, and lots of whiting off the beaches.
Good luck and good fishing.
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 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.