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Date of Issue: February 23, 2008

Grouper still mainstay offshore; reds, trout good in bays

Fishing pic
Great gobs o' grouper
Mike Speer of Winter Haven shows off a monster-sized gag grouper he caught in about 100-feet of water offshore of Anna Maria Island fishing with Capt.Larry McGuire of Show Me the Fish Charters.

Look for some good fishing action out there, as long and weather winds cooperate.

Redfish, trout and catch-and-release snook are a good bet for the backwaters.

Offshore action for grouper and snapper remains excellent, as are amberjack catches.

Annamae Lahay at Corky’s Live Bait & Tackle on Cortez Road said fishing is great in Palma Sola Bay for redfish and spotted sea trout when using "select" size live shrimp. “Some fishers have reported catching more than 40 trout of legal size in one day,” she said. Sarasota Bay has had some redfish and some spotted sea trout, along with a few ladyfish and bluefish coming from its waters, and sharks are coming from the Longboat Key area in the bay. She added that Paradise Bay had its Feb. 6 fishing tournament, with Carl Shaver, Bob Watson and Len Mattinen taking the top spots for redfish; Tom Dorset, Jerry Kozminski, and Frank Chan taking top honors for flounder; Bob Strawser, Jerry Kozminski and Ted Huston getting in the headlines on sheepshead; Frank Chan, Carl Shaver and Gord Bushman for trout; and George Smudde and Jim Huston for snapper.

Capt. Sam Kimball out of Annie’s Bait & Tackle in Cortez said his charters are bringing in grouper, snapper and amberjack in about 50 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico. Capt. Mark Johnson of Annie’s said his backwater trips are reeling in catch-and-release snook, redfish and sheepshead.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said offshore fishing for grouper remains excellent, with good catching coming in at about the 80-foot depths — call it about 20 miles from Anna Maria Island. Amberjack are also a good catch in the Gulf. For backwater fishers, look for lots of good hookups of sheepshead and redfish near the docks around the bays.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said sheepshead is the big catch there, plus some black drum and a few catch-and-release snook.

Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said there are some catch-and-release snook coming in at night, plus some mangrove snapper.

At Tropic Isles Marina, reports include catch-and-release snook, mangrove snapper by the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and black drum and mangrove snapper from the Manatee River.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said there were lots of mangrove snapper coming out of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge area, plus some from the cut in the Manatee River. He’s also hearing of redfish and trout being caught in Terra Ceia Bay.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said his fishing charters have been great offshore. “We are catching lots of nice gag and red grouper, amberjack, mangrove snapper, porgys, triggerfish and a few kingfish. Best action has been out to 120 feet of water, using a variety of live baits.

Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTimes Charters said he had another good week of fishing around Anna Maria. Redfish and sheepshead are the prime targets now,” he said, while trout are hitting.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina saidhad a couple of tough days following the midweek cold front, “but things bounced back in spades on Friday. Light winds allowed us to get a few miles offshore of Anna Maria Island. I had the Robier family from Quebec and they were astounded at the number and variety of species we encountered. Grouper, both gag and red, hefty mangrove snapper, Key West grunts, Spanish mackerel and sheepshead to 7 pounds found their way to the ice chest. All were taken with live shrimp and some with "Gulp" shrimp on a lead head jig. A small rock outcropping held all of the fish in 32 feet of water. Later on in Palma Sola and Northern Sarasota Bay, we encountered numerous lady fish and spotted sea trout to 19 inches.

On my boat Magic, we caught reds to 26 inches, trout to 22 inches, plus sheepshead to 4 pounds, as well as small shark and black drum.

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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