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Date of Issue: July 14, 2010

Fast-dropping tides create opportunities

Tom Brockman with a roughly 50-pound cobia caught with Capt. Larry McGuire in 150 feet of water depth using a live grunt.

The new moon this week is a welcome phase for inshore anglers. High, afternoon tides of around 2-3 feet will be dropping quickly to almost a negative tide most days. By the late evenings, the tides will be low enough to congregate fish such as redfish and trout in potholes and swashes. The water movement will get bait active for most inshore predators.

In particular, if winds are from an easterly direction, look for redfish to be plentiful and tight to mangrove shorelines on the tip of those afternoon high tides.

Action off the beaches remains steady with some big cobia, Spanish mackerel, grouper, mangrove snapper and an occasional kingfish. Tarpon are becoming somewhat sparse.

Keith Parent from the Sunshine Skyway south fishing pier said fishing was slow last week because of the hot water temperatures. He said a few Spanish mackerel and sharks were caught, and tarpon are still milling around the pier.

Capt. Logan Bystrom said the tarpon bite has slowed but should be picking up any day. “There just hasn’t been that many fish around,” he said. He said off the beaches he’s been catching mangrove snapper, small grouper, Spanish mackerel and a few sharks. He said shiners have been small, but anglers should have no problems if they get bait early.

Capt. Warren Girle said he’s been hooking up a handful of tarpon, including one at 60 pounds on July 8, but the silver king action has been nothing like it was the beginning of the summer. Girle last week saw about 40-50 tarpon per day moving in schools of one or two. “They just haven’t come back from the spawn,” Girle said. “I think they’ve just moved on.”

But the inshore bite in Sarasota Bay has been hot for Girle. He said surface-running fish, such as bluefish, Spanish mackerel and ladyfish are jumping all over jigs. Trout are deeper, he said, and it can be tough to get a jig through the aforementioned surface species. The fish are following pods of half- to one-inch minnows. He said tarpon seem to be feeding on the ladyfish, Spanish mackerel and bluefish. “We threw a 10-12-inch ladyfish back and a tarpon flashed on it and took it,” he said. Girle also reported redfish to 30 inches.

Annamae Lahay from Corky’s Live Bait & Tackle has heard reports that in Sarasota and Palma Sola bays there are quite a few redfish, trout, ladyfish, mangrove snapper and bluefish on the grass flats. She said anglers are having good luck on redfish with select, live shrimp. In the Gulf, she’s getting reports of grouper, snapper and pompano. In Longboat Pass, there are a lot of snook, a few tarpon and quite a few sharks.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me the Fish Charters out of the Cortez Fishing Center said quality offshore action has started at about 125 feet of water depth using live baits. He said the larger red grouper are moving into that depth and should continually improve as the summer progresses. On his half-day trips, in around 50 feet of water depth, his clients are catching smoker kingfish, keeper gag grouper and lots of sharks. Nearshore, he reported tarpon are thick around all the passes, Egmont Key and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. He said pass crabs have been working great and anglers can dip up lots of them on the outgoing tide in the Intracoastal Waterway and the passes.

He said on one offshore trip, he was catching big amberjacks on a large ledge when a 50-pound cobia swam up to the boat. He said his first mate put a live grunt by the cobia and the cobia grabbed the bait, spit it out and circled the boat before eating it again. “This cobia didn’t realize he was hooked up and gave very little fight until the gaff hit him,” McGuire said. “I already briefed everyone to stand clear when a green cobia comes aboard. We scrambled when this wild and crazy fish hit the deck thrashing violently. The party said they knew it was a serious situation when the captain and first were running for cover. That was almost as much fun as wrestling large sharks for a photo before a release.”

Rocky Corby from the Anna Maria City Pier said anglers have been catching pinfish, Spanish mackerel and sharks at night, and that’s about it. He said the water looks brackish and murky. “It’s looking like there’d be a gator out here,” Corby said.

Brett Lance from the Rod & Reel Pier said anglers there have been catching some big black drum, Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper, flounder to 25 inches and a couple redfish.

Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters said the fishing around Anna Maria Island has been good with a variety of fish chewing. Speckled trout have moved into deeper grass areas. Redfish are cruising the mangroves during the high tide periods. His charters last week hooked into some nice blacktip and lemon sharks using cut ladyfish and Spanish mackerel. “Because there was a recent hatch of bait during the last full moon, I down-sized my hooks and leaders to accommodate the small baits,” he said. “I am also using small pinfish due to the ease of netting them.”

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