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Date of Issue: March 30, 2005

Fishing

It takes two to hold this whopper
Dee Park and Brian Paulson caught this grouper while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire aboard Show Me The Fish charters.
Click on image to enlarge

It's all about the weather, fishers: Sheepies still rule, though

Fishing, the past week, is all about weather.

It warmed up for a big, both air and water temperatures, and fishing got good. Then another front came through, and with wind and waves it got less-than-good. Now, with warmer weather again, it should get good again.

Best bets offshore include snapper and grouper, while backwater fishers continue to do well with big sheepshead and lots of trout and redfish.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he's getting into lots of redfish, trout and sheepshead. Snook action is out there but the fish are hard to get to take a hook, he's finding.

Capt. Matt Denham on the Rip-Tide out of Catchers said he's finding it to be very windy out there, but when he was able to get offshore he was able to get into lots of amberjack, red grouper and mangrove snapper.

Lee Gause at Perico Harbor Bait & Tackle said despite the cold the fish are still out there, with some action due to the full moon. Sheepshead are thick around the Anna Maria Bridge and Manatee Public Beach pier, he said, and trout are showing up well at the seagrass flats near the bridges. For wade fishers, there seems to be lots of trout action as well, he added.

Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he's putting his charters onto redfish to 24 inches, trout to 17 inches, some flounder to 20 inches and lots of too-small snook-to-keep in Terra Ceia and Miguel bays.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said offshore bottom fishing is good is you can get out there with all the wind. Grouper, both red and gag, are producing offshore. Closer to shore, beach fishing is improving with good reports of whiting, sheepshead, pompano and bluefish. Backwater anglers report excellent catches of trout, reds and sheepshead, with some sheepies coming in at better than 6 pounds.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said early in the week there were lots of sheepshead, black drum, trout and redfish coming into the dock. As the week progressed and the weather cooled, well ... but things should pick up this week.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said he kept close to the shore due to the weather last week, but on his backwater trips he was able to get his charters onto lots of small redfish with a few keepers mixed in, plus lots of sheepshead to 4 pounds and some big trout in Palma Sola Bay.

Capt. Ray Markham said he's getting lots of trout from Terra Ceia Bay on artificial lures, plus lots of redfish in water less than 1 foot deep.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said sheepshead are cooperating for fisher right now at the pier, with some coming in at 5 pounds or better. He's seeing some whiting coming in as well, plus a few redfish on mostly outgoing tides.

Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said he's finding that fishing has picked up a bit this week, with some sheepshead and small snook coming onto the dock. Linesider action is best at night or early in the morning, he said, and sheepies are hitting best with sand fleas or fiddler crabs.

On my boat Magic, we have been catching really big sheepshead to 6 pounds, lots of small redfish, some pompano and a few keeper-size trout.

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 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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