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Date of Issue: February 11, 2009

Cold's demise should promise good fishing this week

Fishing pic
Good catch
Sean Kerney, 16, Dick Prentice, Dave Gooderham, Tom Kerney Jr., Mitch Kerney, 13, and Tom Kerney Sr. proudly show off some of their amberjack catch. It was the first offshore fishing trip for Sean and Mitch. The group also caught and released red snapper, mangrove, lane and yellowtail snapper, scamp and porgies while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire.

Last week’s cold weather and blustery winds kept a few fishers close to home, but there always seems to be the hardy souls who just can’t resist — cold or not — dipping a line in the water to see what will hit the hook.

And hitting the hooks offshore are amberjack and mangrove snapper, according to reports. AJs are to be found near artificial reefs or rock ledges anywhere from 10 to 30 miles from shore in the Gulf of Mexico. Snapper fishing is featuring fish up to 6 pounds. Sheepshead are also to be found on the nearshore reefs.

Sheepies are thick around any structure in the bays as well. Sand fleas are a good bait for the backwater convict fish. Other inshore fishing features include trout, redfish, black drum plus bluefish and pompano near the passes.

Danny Stasny at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said trout are starting to hit for inshore anglers. Best sites are the deepwater seagrass flats of the Intracoastal Waterway. Danny said best action comes from working the water column depending on time of day: for morning fishing, use Berkley Gulps; for afternoon action as the water warms a bit, try some sub-surface plugs or jigs. Sheepies are showing up on the offshore reefs and near the piers, and again different tactics are working in different locales. Offshore convict fish seem to like shrimp, he said, while pier sheepies favor sand fleas. There are also redfish near the docks, especially around Key Royale and in Bimini Bay. Offshore action is great for amberjack near the artificial reefs or natural rock ledges from 10 to 30 miles from shore in the Gulf. Mangrove snapper are also being caught, plus some hogfish on the nearshore wrecks.

Capt. Sam Kimball out of Annie’s Bait & Tackle on Cortez Road has been catching lots of amberjack and mangrove snapper up to 6 pounds on his offshore charters. The weather made fishing tough last week, but he urges folks not to avoid the cold, just go out there and catch some fish.

Capt. Mark Johnston of Annie’s said his backwater trips are producing black drum and redfish. Sheepshead are finally starting to hit and get big, he said. He’s catching bluefish in Longboat Pass and pompano both from the inlet and near the beaches off Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. “It was 32 degrees one morning,” Capt. Mark said, “and we had to chip some ice off the boat, but we caught fish.”

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina saidthat “after three successive nights of near-freezing temperatures in this area, the surface water temperature at my dock read 46 degrees. The reading in deeper water, say around 8 feet, could be as much as 10 degrees warmer. Knowing this, if I were a fish, I would certainly head for that deeper water as a matter of comfort, and for some species, survival. The cold water also lowers the metabolism of the fish, causing them to be sluggish and  not expend a great deal of energy to feed. During really hot summer weather, just the opposite situation will cause  fish to seek deeper and cooler water.” He put his charters onto sheepshead to 4 pounds, bluefish, spotted sea trout, flounder, Key West grunts and small grouper. By the way, at the end of the day on the water, the water temperature at the dock was 7 degrees warmer than when he left.

At the Rod & Reel Pier, fishing reports have been sparse due to the cold, but there have been some nice sheepshead caught.

Rocky at the Anna Maria City Pier said action has been focused on sheepshead, flounder and some bonito, plus a few small sharks.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he’s finding offshore fishing to be great on calmer days between the cold fronts. “We are catching all the monster amberjack we want, lots of mangrove, lane and yellowtail snapper, porgys, red and scamp grouper. Gag grouper are out of season until April 1, but there are lots of other fish to keep us catching all day long.” He’s finding the best action past 120 feet of water with a variety of live bait.

Good luck and good fishing.

Fishing news and photos are welcome and may be submitted to Paul Roat by e-mail at paul@islander.org.

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