Silver kings swarm beaches after spawn
Will Gryboski, 13, of Holmes Beach and Atlanta, shows of a nice kingfish. The Gryboski family and friends fished the Gulf of Mexico May 29 and reeled up a variety of fish about 7 1/2 miles out on light tackle using white bait in 35-42 feet of water. Islander Photos: David Gryboski
A plethora of tarpon has returned to near-shore waters from their full moon spawn. Silver kings are said to travel far offshore to spawn before returning to cruise the beaches.
Offshore of Anna Maria Island is free of oil, so anglers can get their fill of offshore species. Fishers all along the coast are hoping winds remain southerly. Any northerly winds could send oil cruising into our area.
Capt. Steven Salgado said there were still a lot of kingfish, gag grouper, bonito and mangrove snapper in 55-60 feet of water last week. He said rigging for bottom fishing included wire leaders with dead, tail-pinched sardines on a 2/0 or 3/0 hook. Later in the days, he would head to the passes for tarpon fishing with pass crabs.
Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters said, “Fishing is as hot as the weather. Tarpon fishing has been excellent with many boats hooking up with some monster-size tarpon in the 150-pound range. He said Islander Tommy Price had the drag on his reel literally melt due to a huge tarpon pulling off 200 yards of line.”
Howard said crabs, shiners, pinfish and threadfins have been the bait of choice.
He said shark-fishing has been good inside the bay, with blacktips, lemons and spinner sharks taking the main stage.
“Hang a chum block over the side of the boat and mix some cut-up shiners into the slick,” Howard said. “I also like to dole out some Purina tropical fish food to sweeten the chum slick. A chunk of ladyfish, bluefish or blue runners rigged on some wire or cable leader will get the job done. Use caution as the sharks are very agile and will try and swing around to take a bite out of you.”
Howard suggests a long-handled release tool to help with the safe return of sharks to the water.
Inside the bays, the speckled trout fishing has been excellent for Howard. A limit of keeper-sized fish is easily available over the grass flats.
Capt. Mike Greig said tarpon fishing is steady and lots of fish are showing up. The amberjack bite is good offshore in about 60 feet of water, there’s mangrove snapper in good numbers and cobia to 50 pounds, he said.
Capt. Logan Bystrom said the best tarpon bite has been during the last couple hours of an outgoing tide, when crabs make their way to the passes. Bystrom also has had good luck for tarpon with shiners and threadfins. He added the grouper bite has been good offshore and kingfish are still scattered. Inshore, trout remain abundant on grass flats.
Capt. Warren Girle has fished tarpon every day, with the biggest fish being 175 pounds, another at about 150 and the rest between 80-110 pounds. “A lot of fish have come back from the full moon and all of sudden there were oodles of fish,” Girle said. “There were probably 500-700 fish off the beaches this week, maybe eight or nine schools as soon as you go outside (Longboat) pass.”
Girle said tarpon anglers have been courteous this year. “Normally there are one or two crazies out there,” Girle said. “But it’s been quiet so far. Everyone is playing by the rules.”
Girle also reported fishing 7 miles offshore for limits of snapper, a keeper cobia at 36 inches, bonito and tons of Spanish mackerel.
Capt. Zach Zacharias of the “DEE JAY II” out of Parrot Cove Marina said he’s seeing better-than-average angling action around the area. Bait is plentiful and the local inshore waters are giving up good to excellent catches of speckled trout, redfish and catch-and-release snook. In the mix there are ladyfish, bluefish, jacks and Spanish mackerel.
He said off the beaches, the reefs are giving up multi-species catches. Bottom fishing is producing grouper, snapper and scattered flounder. Flat-lining live bait has produced Spanish mackerel, schooling kings, bonito and banded rudderfish. He said a few real tackle-busting kingfish, cobia and goliaths have been encountered as well.
“Look for mangrove snapper to start making a solid showing in our bays in the next few weeks,” Zacharias said. “Tarpon are on the scene big time as of Memorial Day. There’s absolutely no impact on our local fisheries and wildlife from the oil debacle. Pray that remains the case.”
Annamae Lahay from Corky’s Live Bait Tackle and Thrift Store said her customers are still reporting Sarasota and Palma Sola bays are holding Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, small sharks and flounder. In addition, redfish and trout are in the grass flats. She said there were more redfish reports in Palma Sola Bay last week. She also has received reports of tarpon and whiting in Longboat Pass and in Gulf waters, as well as cobia around the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
Derek Olson from the Rod & Reel Pier said anglers at night have been catching a lot of black drum and shark, while day anglers might have a good shot at mangrove snapper.
Dave Sork from Anna Maria City Pier said anglers have hooked a few tarpon, but most of the action has been with Spanish mackerel. Cobia is a possibility there, too.
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