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Date of Issue: March 30, 2005

Fishing

First fish
Kathleen Kelly, 3, of Bradenton, holds up her first-caught fish. She is the granddaughter of Linda and Bob Kelly of Holmes Beach.
Click on image to enlarge

Hold on: Fishing action should get great any day now

Whitebait, one of the mainstays of local fishing action, is starting to show up at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, perhaps signaling the start of spring fishing action.

Watch for fishing to really improve in the next few days as the water temperatures warm. A good indicator was that 18-pound snook that was caught at the Rod and Reel Pier last week.

I'll be at Boater's World at Desoto Square Mall March 2 to talk about bridge and pier fishing, and again April 6 to talk on how to catch big snook. Both events begin at 7 p.m.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said there are lots of sheepshead to 4 pounds coming onto the docks. Snook and redfish are hanging out under the pier, but they don't seem hungry, but some of the passing-through mackerel seem to be coming onto the hooks of anglers.

Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier reports that Dennis Elsworth caught an 18-pound, 34-inch-long snook last week. Other action includes lots of sheepshead, plus a few flounder and trout.

Lee Gause at Perico Harbor Bait & Tackle said wade fishers are catching reds in the potholes in the seagrass flats or near the mangroves in the bays, plus he's hearing a few reports of flounder being caught and sheepshead near the Anna Maria Bridge.

Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he's putting his charters onto trout to 17 inches, lots of small snook and redfish within the slot limit. He's also getting a few sheepshead to 5 pounds.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said fishing has improved this week thanks to the better weather. There are lots of sheepshead hanging around the local piers and docks, and wade fishers are catching lots of redfish and trout. Offshore action is simply snapper, with the tasty fish seeming to be everywhere out there, ranging in size to 5 pounds. Grouper fishing remains fair to excellent in less than 100 feet of water, and amberjack to 50 pounds are coming on strong a little farther out in the Gulf.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he's finding lots of sheepshead near the Sunshine Skyway pier systems, mangrove snapper along the ship channel to 4 pounds, and one boater brought in a 30-inch trout last week. Sheepshead, redfish and black drum are also around the piers and docks in the Manatee River.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he has been fishing offshore in the mornings and doing well with snapper to 4 pounds, and coming inside in the afternoons to catch sheepshead, trout and redfish.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said snapper and grouper and hitting well offshore, with excellent catches most days last week.

Capt. Ray Markham said he's also doing well with trout and redfish, using artificial baits and finding good results in Terra Ceia and Miguel bays.

On my boat Magic, we have been limiting-out on snapper to 17 inches, sheepshead to 5 pounds, and lots of redfish.

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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