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Date of Issue: May 19, 2010

Oil spill wonít spoil fishing this week

Captain Logan Bystrom speared this 60-pound cubera snapper 15 miles off of Anna Maria on Mother’s Day in 55 feet of water. Pictured are Bystrom’s brother Trevor Bystrom, from left, Capt. Bystrom and Chris Grimes of Myakka.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters shows off a nice blacktip shark caught using a live pinfish on a flatline while fishing in 90-foot deep waters offshore of Anna Maria Island. The shark was released.

Scientists from NOAA Fisheries do not expect the oil spill off Louisiana to hit the Island coast, and that means the beginning of tarpon fishing off the beaches won’t be interrupted.

Tarpon started to show up in numbers off the beaches, and the waters have been loaded under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge for weeks.

Capt. Mike Greig said his anglers have been getting into lots of nice snook and trout in the local bays. He reported snook to 33 inches and trout to 25 inches. There are still some kingfish right off the beaches, and gag grouper in 40-50 feet of water. He said there seems to be less than half the numbers of snook there were before the winter freeze.

Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters said the bait game has gotten very easy, with lots of shiners invading the flats. He suggests super-charging chum with some menhaden oil to draw in the bait.

Speckled trout have been cooperating in 2-6 feet of water. Howard said to look for clean moving water for success. Redfish are chewing heavily with a lot of over-the-slot fish being landed and released. Kingfish are still off the beaches feeding on schools of bait. Lots of chummers behind the boat will draw in the toothy predators. Sharks are cruising the flats and make for exciting fishing.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me the Fish Charters out of Cortez Fishing Center reported his parties are catching gag and red grouper, smoker kingfish, amberjacks, mangrove and yellowtail snappers, big barracudas, blacktip and other large sharks and catch-and-release goliath grouper. He said the best grouper action is past 150 feet of depth for large reds or inside Tampa bay for some nice gag grouper and Spanish mackerel.

“Kingfish and shark frenzies can happen at any depth where there’s plenty of bait,” McGuire said. “Monster amberjacks, also called reef donkeys by some folks, are on most of the wrecks, springs and deep ledges and are more than willing to make your arms sore and body ache.” He added tarpon also are showing up in Sarasota Bay.

Capt Warren Girle reported nice gag grouper to 29 inches, mangrove snapper in 45-50 feet of water and two cobia to 25 pounds landed on a charter last week. He’s seeing a lot more snook this week to 33 inches, and big trout are mixed in with snook and redfish on the flats. Schooling trout are on the flats as well. He said crabs are moving and there are some tarpon on the beaches.

Capt. Rick Gross of the charter boat Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina said tarpon fishing is picking up under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Free-lining threadfins, Gross’ anglers hooked up almost 10 tarpon in less than two hours as an incoming tide began to slow. But anglers on his charter couldn’t manage to get any tarpon to the boat, as many broke off on the pilings. “We just couldn’t get lucky,” Gross said. He also reported a strong kingfish bite off the beaches. Gross spotted a diving pelican and anchored nearby, where the anglers caught eight keeper kingfish that morning, as well as about 20 Spanish mackerel to four pounds.

Gross said trout should be plentiful through the new moon, as they haven’t yet spawned. Trout fishing could slow on the next full moon, however.

“With trout, I mainly look for grass flats,” said Gross, who reported a great redfish bite around Whale Key at Buttonwood Harbor in Sarasota Bay.

He also reported good action off the beaches with barracuda, jack crevalle, juvenile grouper and an occasional flounder 7 miles out.

Kim Schearer from Annie’s Bait & Tackle said her customers are reporting pompano around Longboat Pass and flounder up to 14 inches being caught on the north side of Manatee Bridge.

Dave Sork from Anna Maria City Pier said anglers there have primarily been picking up Spanish mackerel to 22 inches. He said there’s a lot of bait around and he suspects tarpon will be around the pier any time soon.

Kyle Dodrill from the Sunshine Skyway south pier said anglers have been catching Spanish mackerel, grouper, mangrove snapper (which are just starting to show), tarpon and occasionally cobia. He said the kingfish bite has slowed down as a result of windy conditions.

Capt. Mark Johnston of Legend Charters out of Annie’s has been doing well with trout, one day limiting out on them up to 20 inches in one hour using 1/0 hooks and live shiners on a slow, outgoing tide in Longboat Pass and at Long Bar in Sarasota Bay. Another day he reported reeling up trout to 21 inches and Spanish mackerel to 24 inches in Longboat Pass and the bulkhead (grass flats off the mouth of the Manatee River) on an incoming tide.

Capt. Sam Kimball of Legend Charters out of Annie’s is doing well with kingfish and Spanish mackerel offshore. Kimball is going to about 50 feet of water, but it had been choppy. Despite slim pickings, Kimball caught some gag grouper from 18-20 pounds and mangrove snapper to about 2 pounds.

Annamae Lahay of Corky’s Live Bait and Tackle said her customers are reporting Sarasota Bay and Palma Sola Bay are holding Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, small sharks, and flounder. In addition, redfish and trout are in the grass flats. She also has received reports of tarpon and whiting in Longboat Pass and in Gulf waters, cobia around the Skyway Bridge, and most people have been having success with large, live shrimp.

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