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Date of Issue: May 05, 2010

Tarpon and permit spotted in area

Group-er photo

Joe Hagenstien, left, and Dave Schmidt of Sheboygan, Wis., are on their first grouper trip — and are catching the largest gag grouper of the day. The party also caught amberjack, snapper, kingfish and blacktip sharks while fishing offshore of Anna Maria Island at a depth of 125 feet. The group, with Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me the Fish Charters, was using sardines and pinfish.

Bill Starrett of Anna Maria, left, and Gary Huffman caught this 38-inch snook wade-fishing with a live sardine on light tackle near Long Bar in Sarasota Bay. Islander Photo: Courtesy George Kyd

The nearshore reefs are brimming with action with permit, cobia, grouper, snapper and more. There even was a tarpon spotted at a 3-mile artificial reef. A couple tarpon also were seen off Bean Point. Anglers are anxiously awaiting the tarpon to cruise off the beaches, although most anglers are reporting that tarpon are horded up in Charlotte Harbor.

Bait is plentiful in the bays, at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and offshore.

Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters said the fishing around Anna Maria Island has been excellent with a variety of species. Speckled trout have been active with a keeper limit almost assured on every trip.

“A popping cork rigged with a lively shiner should draw some awesome strikes,” Howard said. “Make the bobber gurgle to draw the fish in.”

Spanish mackerel continue to be aggressive and hungry over the deep grass of Anna Maria Sound. Howard used a long-shank hook to reduce the number of cut-offs. He said kingfish have been just off our beaches feeding on the massive schools of bait. Look for the fishing to heat up along with the weather.

Kim Schearer of Annie’s Bait & Tackle said her customers are reporting awesome action in Sarasota Bay. She said pompano action is still strong around Longboat Pass.

Capt. Sam Kimball of Legend Charters caught amberjacks to 40 pounds about 30 miles out. He caught red, black, scamp and gag grouper as well as mangrove snapper to 7 pounds and a bunch of throwback red snapper to 12 pounds. He was using live shiners for bait.

Capt. Mark Johnston of Legend Charters was fishing about 2 miles out of Longboat Pass in the Gulf. The waters were clear and he was using shiners and able to land kingfish and Spanish mackerel. Blacktip sharks to 20 pounds are showing up nearshore as well.

James Followell from the Sunshine Skyway south fishing pier said anglers have been catching a lot of blue runners and a lot of small Spanish mackerel. Some anglers were catching kingfish at the end of the pier. “The kingfish are even hitting some of the mackerel,” Followell said.

Rocky Corby from the Anna Maria City Pier said anglers are catching sharks and Spanish mackerel. He said there’s a lot of bait around.

Capt. Warren Girle said there are lots of redfish to 33 inches in north Sarasota Bay where there’s a ton of bait. He also has caught trout to 24 inches. He said the big trout are mixed in with redfish, while schooling trout are in 2-4 feet of water. He also reported a snook to 24 inches, his first since the winter freeze. “There’s ladyfish everywhere in the bay, a ton of mackerel in the bay we’re seeing manatees moving around so there’s a lot more life out there,” he said.

Capt. Mike Greig said he has been catching some permit and cobia offshore, as well as some nice grouper and trout in the bay. “There’s some nice permit around,” Greig said.

Capt. Bill Ware of The Damn Yankee fished off Bean Point last week and caught six flounder, two of which were over 20 inches. “The flounder are best I’ve seen off Bean Point,” he said. He also got three sharks, a bunch of Spanish mackerel and grouper. At a 7-mile reef, with shiners, he lost count at 20 grouper, a few of which were close to keeper size.

“It was unbelievable,” he said. “I got home and was totally beat. I think the bigger ones are starting to move further out. There’s also some big kingfish out there. We saw our first tarpon, two off Beat Point and another at the 3-mile reef.”

He also heard pompano are moving off the beaches.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me the Fish Charters out of Cortez Fishing Center said kingfish bite is improving, and he is still catching cobia, amberjack (past 30 miles) gag grouper red grouper, mangrove snapper and sharks. He said the best red grouper bite is out past 120 feet of depth and even better at 170 feet.

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