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Date of Issue: February 16, 2006

Fishing
Fishing pic
Gorgeous grouper
Taylor Shipley, of Orlando, caught this 30-pound gag grouper while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters. Capt. Larry said "it was by far the nicest catch of the week!"

Grouper good offshore as long as weather permits


It's slow going for fishing right now, what with cold fronts and high winds.

For those days when the winds drop, offshore fishing in the Gulf of Mexico continues to be great for grouper and snapper, with a few amberjack mixed in.

For inshore anglers, it's all sheepshead all the time, with sand fleas or shrimp working the best as bait. There are also a few redfish and snook hookups reported, plus some nice trout catches.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's said the few days he was able to get out last week due to the iffy weather produced "decent action with a variety of species. Early in the week gave up a wider variety, including redfish, sheepshead, pompano, permit and a snook or two. Later in the week, sheepshead were the mainstay with some days producing big numbers and others not as many. Pretty typical for winter-pattern fishing. Offshore fishing continues to be hot, especially with snapper, when the boats can get out there."

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said offshore fishing is the best bet right now, with good catches continuing on grouper, snapper, triggerfish and amberjack. Backwater action is fair for sheepshead - actually, it's the best bet right now - with catches coming from almost any structure in the water.

Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said his charters have been reeling in sheepshead and flounder.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said action there included a few whiting and sheepshead.

Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said sheepshead are still No. 1 at the pier, with the best action coming from sand fleas and shrimp, mostly before noon.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said there are big snook hanging out under the docks, but they don't seem to want to come to a hook. He is seeing plenty of people coming ashore with lots of sheepshead and black drum, mostly from the Manatee River.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he got into a school of redfish up in Palma Sola Bay that made his clients happy, and also caught some mangrove snapper and sheepshead last week.

At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, reports include some redfish in the canals off Anna Maria Island, sheepshead near the docks and grouper and snapper in less than 100 feet of water out in the Gulf.

At Skyway Bait and Tackle, reports include whiting and sheepshead from near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge pier systems, as well as some snook out of the canals near Palmetto Point.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he found fishing to be good last week. "If you could find a window of opportunity to go out, due to the wind. Our clients caught gag grouper, red grouper, giant mangrove snapper, large yellowtail snapper, lane snapper, margates, porgys and some triggerfish." Capt. Larry said he fished 85- to 115-foot depths in the Gulf, using live pinfish, frozen Spanish sardines and live shrimp for the snapper.

On my boat Magic, we've caught sheepshead to 5 pounds, black drum to 6 pounds, trout to 23 inches and a couple of pompano.

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 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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