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Date of Issue: June 23, 2010

Anglers enjoying nearshore fishing frenzy

John O’Grady from Sarasota landed a 54-inch cobia while angling from the Anna Maria City Pier May 30. Islander Photo: Courtesy: Kelly Agnes

Thomas McGuire, left, of Palmetto, caught this American red snapper with assistance from father Tom while fishing offshore of Anna Maria Island with Capt. Larry McGuire. Islander photo: Courtesy: Larry McGuire

With waters offshore of Anna Maria Island still clear of oil, anglers are enjoying supreme action on line-burning species such as tarpon, kingfish, cobia and bonito.

Tarpon remains anglers’ No. 1 target, as some anglers are reporting more silver kings than they’ve seen in some time.

Capt. Warren Girle said a pair of anglers last week landed the biggest grouper that’s ever been to Girle’s boat, a 350-pound goliath grouper that hit a chunk of bonito in 38 feet of water. Girle said it was landed with the same spool of 195-pound Dacron line he used to catch the International Game Fish Association all-tackle world record 764-pound dusky shark off Longboat Pass in 1982. “I pulled that old spool out of my closet,” Girle said. In addition to the monster grouper, Girle said his anglers have had great action on tarpon, cobia, kingfish and bonito.

Jesus Rosario from Anna Maria City Pier said anglers have caught a couple cobia, a couple keeper flounder and a lot of Spanish mackerel. He said a lot more mangrove snapper are starting to show up, and tarpon are thick early in the mornings. He added there are a lot of sheepshead but anglers aren’t targeting the convict fish.

Bob Kilb from Rod & Reel Pier said the mangrove snapper bite is turning on, there are some big redfish around, large numbers of Spanish mackerel are running through and there are plenty of snook. “But I’m trying to keep everybody from fishing for the snook,” Kilb said.

Kyle Dodrill from the south Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier said anglers have caught Spanish mackerel, a lot of big mangrove snapper, occasional grouper, cobia and quite a few pompano. Tarpon, of course, are loaded under the bridge.

Capt. Logan Bystrom said he’s been having some of the best tarpon-fishing action he’s ever had, averaging about 15 hook-ups a day off the beaches. “We just keep getting more and more tarpon every year,” Bystrom said. “There’s just been tons of fish.” Bystrom said there were some big dropping tides last week so he’s been using only threadfins. Bystrom has been drifting into schools of tarpon with shiners at various depths under corks. He also reported good action on offshore grouper over rock piles and inshore trout.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me the Fish Charters out of the Cortez Fishing Center fishing said 40-50 feet of water depth has been good for kingfish, sharks, keeper gag grouper, mangrove snapper, triggerfish and purges. He said tarpon are tick off Egmont Key, under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and around Longboat Pass. Farther out, in 150-160 feet of water, McGuire has been getting red and gag grouper, black grouper, amberjack, American red snapper, mangrove snapper, porgies, sharks and barracuda. He said he’s catching more kingfish now than in April because it was an extremely cold winter. He starts targeting kingfish in 40-50 feet of water. On June 12 he reported catching a 40-pound kingfish on a free-lined sardine in 45 feet of water. Three days later, he said it was so calm he never anchored the boat. “I think that’s the first time I never anchored the boat,” he said. “If you can handle the heat the fishing’s great. And no signs of oil at all.”

Capt. Zach Zacharias of the DEE JAY II out of Parrot Cove Marina said he is highly anticipating the onset of the summer rainy season, which helps to moderate the water temperature.

“We have gone from the coldest on record a few months back to the warmest for mid-June,” Zacharias said. “Bait is starting to transition to a summer pattern where the larger spring white bait has spawned and is schooling to migrate out of here.”

He said tons of small pinfish and grunts are invading the shallow grass and is a productive bait in the hot summer conditions.

Zacharias is finding that big trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jack crevalle and ladyfish are providing fast action all over the open bay grass beds in 4-6 feet of water. Tarpon are thick as well. “The silver kings can be found all along the oil-free beaches of Longboat Key and Anna Maria, Egmont Key, Tampa Bay and near the mouths of the Manatee River and Terra Ceia Bay,” he said. “I’ve noticed a marked increase of mangrove snapper in the bays over the past week.”

He said a trip out to various reefs last week continued to give up good catches of mackerel, schooling kings, grouper, snapper, shark and lesser amberjack.

Capt. Steven Salgado said he’s been fishing off the beaches for some small sharks and mangrove snapper. He added that he’s taken advantage of a lot of tarpon off Bean Point.

Send fishing news and photos to fish@islander.org.

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