Scott McClung caught this 30-inch redfish while fishing with Capt. Tom Chaya.
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Cobia coming, kings never really been, reds still strong
Some cobia are starting to come to the hook for anglers off Anna Maria Island, but the kingfish run doesn't seem to have made a sprint so far this year.
Backwater action for redfish and sheepshead is getting better by the day and both are this week's best bet for backwater fishers.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said offshore fishing is excellent right now, with grouper and snapper the best bets. Inshore action for snook and redfish is also good, plus a few sheepshead and flounder coming into the coolers.
Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said "fishing is still real hot and getting hotter. This past week I guided out Bill Mackson and party to a nice catch of gag grouper to 20 pounds, cobia to 50 pounds, sharks to 5 feet in length, plus mangrove, lane, yellowtail snapper and hog snapper, margates, triggerfish and porgies. We caught cobia on two trips this week, and there are also a few kingfish available, as well as amberjack out past 30 miles."
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he's putting his charters onto snook, redfish, trout, small grouper, flounder and some large lady fish, all using artificial lures.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said fishing has been good for him, with snook, redfish, catch-and-release trout and flounder coming from the backwaters, and snapper, small grouper and some flounder producing out in the Gulf of Mexico.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said the hot action is centering on flounder, drum, sheepshead and a few redfish. Fishing has been slow, but steady at the pier, he added.
Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said sheepshead are really starting to come to the dock, plus a few good-size sea bass, some flounder, mangrove snapper and a few keeper-size snook at night.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said he took Bud Martin and crew out last week and did well on reds, snook, flounder, bluefish, mackerel and Key West grunts.
At the Perico Island Bait and Tackle, there are good reports from the wade fishers on redfish and snook coming out of Palma Sola Bay. Offshore, anglers are catching grouper and lots of snapper.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he's seeing some keeper-size snook coming onto the dock, plus plenty of redfish. Bait is thick in Terra Ceia Bay now, and snapper and mackerel are hitting on that and other lures off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge piers.
Capt. Hank Williams on Wet Willy Charters said offshore fishing for grouper and snapper has been excellent, with some grouper going to better than 25 pounds. He's also catching snapper to 4 pounds on the offshore artificial reefs.
At the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, there are lots of small grouper being caught, plus flounder and lots of redfish coming off the seagrass flats.
Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said he's finding lots of good catches of snook and redfish, plus sheepshead, flounder and some bluefish.
Capt. Ray Markham on the Flat Back II said he's finding the fish feeding well since Thanksgiving despite the fronts. "There are still a number of linesiders available on the flats to target, but that number has seen a big reduction over the past two months," Capt. Ray said. "Flounder, redfish, trout, and a number of others have taken up the slack, providing more than enough rod-bending action to make anglers happy. Some days we've targeted redfish, flounder, and a few catch-and-release trout while fishing barbless hooks." He's finding flounder action to be steady, with the largest flattie landed at 19 inches.
On my boat Magic, we've been going after redfish of late, with the best catch better than 32 inches. We've also caught a couple of nice-size snook more than 30 inches long and mangrove snapper to 17 inches, with most of the best action coming from Tampa Bay.
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.