Snook season closed, so go for those reds
Gail McGrath of Plant City caught this 32-pound kingfish while fishing offshore with Capt. Tom Chaya aboard Dolphin Dreams.
With the closure of snook season Dec. 1, inshore action is focusing on redfish, and based on reports the fish are responding.
Mackerel are also still a good bet in the backwaters, as are some flounder. Sheepshead are also starting to show up in numbers by most of the structures.
Out in the Gulf of Mexico, the grouper and snapper action is pretty hot, and not all that far from shore. There are some good reports of fish caught within 12 miles of Anna Maria Island.
Capt. Mark Howard with Sumotime Fishing Charters said that redfish have been the fish of choice of late. “With the low water and low tides, redfish have been in the potholes off the Intracoastal Waterway,” he said, adding that “Spanish mackeral and big ladyfish are still around for some light-tackle fun. And blacktip sharks are still prowling the edges of the flats.”
Capt. Sam Kimball out of Annie’s Bait & Tackle on Cortez Road said he’s finding that fishing couldn’t be better: He’s putting charters onto good catches of gag grouper and snapper about 13 miles out in the Gulf, plus mackerel.
Capt. Mark Johnson, also of Annie’s, said snook are out of season just when the fishing got good, but he’s catching plenty of redfish and mackerel to take up the linesider slack.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said offshore grouper fishing is hot right now, anywhere from 12 to 16 miles out in the Gulf. Snapper are coming off the offshore fishing reefs, too, he said, “if you can get them past the Goliath grouper.” The fish formerly known as a jewfish is a hungry critter, it would appear. Inshore fishing for redfish and mackerel is good as well, and sheepshead are starting to show up in some numbers.
Tom Cassetty at the Rod & Reel Pier said anglers there are catching a few sheepshead, mackerel, redfish, black drum, small mangrove snapper, flounder and yellowtail jacks - just a little of everything. He also reminds everyone that snook season closed Dec. 1.
Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said it’s sheepshead and mackerel at the pier right now, plus a few flounder and snapper. Small spoons and white jigs are the ticket for the macks, he added.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said there are reports of legal-size grouper coming out of Terra Ceia Bay, and offshore catches of grouper are good. He’s also seeing some boaters bringing in lots of redfish.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina saidhe took Rick Fuchs from Cincinnati, Ohio, to a good catch of king mackerel to 25 pounds, plus some big Spanish mackerel, a 50-pound barracuda and some grouper in about 30 feet of water over hard bottom in the Gulf. “Most of the action came on whitebait, pinfish and shrimp,” Capt. Zach said. “The barracuda ate the leftovers from its first bite of a Spanish mackerel. Later on, in Sarasota Bay, we bested redfish up to 26 inches, speckled trout and ladyfish.” He’s finding kingfish and mackerel action to remain strong right up to the beginning of December. Other action has included bonito, small grouper, mangrove snapper, flounder and a rare cobia. “On the inshore waters,” he said, “things have been pretty active with open water species, but most of the shallow flats species are transitioning and the best scenario for success with snook, reds and sheepshead would be a substantial front that knocks down the water temps to a normal range in the mid to low 60s for this time of year.”
On my boat Magic, we’re catching tons of redfish up to 25 inches, plus flounder and limit catches of mangrove snapper up to 17 inches on every trip.
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.