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Date of Issue: April 21, 2010

Kingfish cruising offshore, snook sneaking inshore

Capt. Steven Salgado landed this estimated 91-pound cobia 7 miles offshore of Anna Maria Island on April 5. Salgado said it took him nearly three hours to bring the cobia to the boat. He measured the cobia at 67 inches long and 34 inches in girth. “It was the biggest cobia I’ve ever caught,” Salgado said. With Salgado and his catch is 11-year-old son Steven.

Dick Stevens and grandson Chase Leete Stevens caught this black drum from a dock on the bayfront in Holmes Beach in March.

Bay, not brook trout

Terry Brookie of Carmel, Ind., shows his 26-inch trout caught last week in the bay waters near north Longboat Key. Brookie was visiting Island-Carmel snowbirds Stan and Barb Brookie and caught a fishing trip with Capt. Craig Madsen out of Catchers Marina, Holmes Beach.

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King smokers have shown up off the beaches to test anglers’ moxie. The kingfish are following thick schools of bait, and anglers had a chance to target the kings in calm waters thanks to easterly winds last week.

Also, some of the first reports of snook have come in. As many as 2 million snook were killed statewide in a winter freeze that brought thousands of snook belly-up in canals all along the Island. Anglers now are spotting schools of up to 100 hungry linesiders in local waters, a great sign for the state’s fishery.

Capt. Bill Ware of The Damn Yankee said he went to a 3-mile reef on April 16, drifting with scaled sardines from the Anna Maria City Pier. He said he netted 10 dozen shiners with one throw. “The bait lasted all day,” he said.

With an easterly wind, he landed two keeper kingfish, including 10-15 strikes. “They just about yanked the rod out of our hands,” he said. He also caught Spanish mackerel and saw about six cobia just as the tide changed to outgoing. “I keep a top-water plug handy in case we do see cobia and I casted one out and they turned, looked at it, and didn’t strike,” Ware said. “When that sun shows up, they show up as great big brown logs in the water.”

After the tide turned, he drifted off Bean Point, bouncing white bait off the bottom. “Every time I dropped it I got a fish,” Ware said. “I got 10 grouper, two keeper size, and Spanish mackerel. Even an 18-inch flounder. The action was really fast and I went through almost all the bait I had. Bean Point is such a great place to fish as long as you avoid the crab traps.”

Kim Schearer of Annie’s Bait & Tackle said trout action was all over the place this week. She heard reports of trout between 17-25 inches caught in Sarasota Bay. She said a 23-inch trout was brought up by the Longboat Pass bridge, and she added some nice ones were being caught on the north side of the Anna Maria Island Bridge. Bluefish made an appearance near the Longboat bridge, and Spanish mackerel have made it up to the Manatee crossing as well, she said.

“And don’t forget the ladyfish,” Shearer said. “They are with the mackerel whether you want them or not.”

Capt. Sam Kimball of Legend Charters has caught kingfish in about 50 feet of water. He was using live shiners in choppy seas.

Capt. Mark Johnston of Legend Charters had been catching sheepshead to 5 pounds, Spanish mackerel to 24 inches and ladyfish as a bycatch on an incoming tide, using jig heads tipped with shrimp in Longboat Pass and the east side of Anna Maria. On the north side of Anna Maria, black drum showed up, some up to 7 pounds. Johnston also caught redfish to 20 inches and some keeper-size flounder. Although he is still favoring live shrimp, Johnston has been testing the waters with 3-inch new penny Gulp shrimp and shiners.

 Capt. Danny Stasny of Island Discount Tackle at Catchers said he is excited that snook were around Terra Ceia Bay last week. “And they’re eating,” he said. “Me and a buddy were out scouting and we saw about 100 of them. And the following day we caught a couple. The white bait has been ‘iffy’ with them. Sometimes they’re eating, sometimes they weren’t messing with white bait too much.”

He said pompano have been scattered throughout the area, from the flats to the beaches. He said he was catching pompano as he was fishing for trout with Berkley Gulp baits and with banana jigs on the beaches. He said cobia are off the beach as well. “It’s just a matter of keeping your eyes open until you see that big, brown spot,” he said.

He also heard that redfish are around, but they haven’t been chewing.

Capt. Steven Salgado has been catching grouper to 30 inches, and cobia and sharks offshore. Inshore, he reported trout to 24 inches and limits of redfish.

Capt. Mike Greig said the kingfish action is real good off the beaches and cobia are showing up. He said bait fish are out in masses right off the beach, but they’ll push into the bay soon. Live threadfins and large white baits have been the ticket for kingfish up to 40 pounds. He said the grouper bite has been good as well. Inshore, he said the best target has been trout. “It’s spring time,” Greig said. “Game on.”

Rocky Corby from the Anna Maria City Pier said anglers have been catching lots of Spanish mackerel. He said there are a lot of pinfish around the pier. “We did have a barracuda hanging around,” Corby said, “and someone hooked a tarpon. I heard some guy was fighting him for about 30 minutes or so and got broke off.”

James Followell from the Sunshine Skyway south fishing pier said he has seen about four keeper grouper, Spanish mackerel and a couple pompano landed. He added he is seeing tarpon, but no one has yet been hooking them.

Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters said the fishing around Anna Maria Island has been action-packed with a variety of species chewing. Spanish mackerel up to 4 pounds have moved into Tampa bay and are feeding heavily on shiners and threadfins.

“To catch these toothy predators,” he said, “find clean, moving water over drop-offs near sea grass and chum.”

He said speckled trout are abundant over the grass flats around Anna Maria. Live bait and Berkley gulps in pearl and new penny have been the baits of choice. He said redfish have moved into the mangroves and are feeding on the incoming tide, and cobia has finally showed up off the beaches and the artificial reefs. “A live pinfish will turn these bruisers appetite into overdrive,” he said.

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