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Date of Issue: July 21, 2010

Red snapper season about to snap

Coye Bays, 7, of Georgetown, Ky., caught this speckled trout on a recent charter with his father, cousins and uncle aboard Sumotime with Capt. Mark Howard.

Roger Reichenberg from Napa, Calif., shows his catch — two blackfin tuna — caught fishing offshore of Anna Maria Island with Capt. Sam Kimball of Legend Charters. Islander Photo: Courtesy Dana Herreid

Red snapper will be out of season beginning July 23 in all waters, so time is running out to catch the tasty treat.

Action last week was relatively slow, despite ideal tides.

Local anglers are reporting their best action has been on sharks, which are thick in the bays, off the beaches and around the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Capt. Danny Stasny from Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina said many anglers at the shop are catching Spanish mackerel and sharks. He said Capt. Sam Kimball reported a nice catch of gag grouper, porgies, rudderfish, Spanish mackerel and Key West grunts.

Capt. Logan Bystrom said he caught a few tarpon, although that action has slowed down. He said backwater fishing has slowed down as well. He said he’s mostly been catching sharks in the 4- to 5-foot range in Tampa Bay, in the passes and off the beaches. He’s been spearing barracuda for shark bait.

Capt. Warren Girle said while fishing 7 miles offshore he found bonito, barracuda, mangrove snapper, undersized grouper and tons of sharks. He said the bait balls are still inshore with jack crevalle, ladyfish, bluefish and trout to 27 inches. He said redfish went to 28 inches, along with small redfish in north Sarasota Bay. “I haven’t looked for tarpon in a week,” Girle said.

Capt. Mike Greig said he went offshore one day last weekend and had a good day fishing for grouper and mangrove snapper. He also reported a few good days on trout and redfish. He saw redfish schooling up a bit, but he hasn’t got them to chew too much. He said there is still plenty of Spanish mackerel in Tampa Bay, and he jumped a few tarpon in the bay as well. “We had a few slow days,” Grieg said, “but that’s fishing.”

Kyle Dodrill from the Sunshine Skyway south fishing pier said last week there were a lot of tarpon and sharks caught, Spanish mackerel were “off and on,” mangrove snapper were gone, a few grouper were had early in the mornings, pompano were in the shallows and an occasional cobia was hooked.

Dave Sork from the Anna Maria City Pier said fishing has been pretty slow with the exception of sharks.

At the Rod & Reel Pier reports are that pier anglers have caught a few black drum, one angler brought a roughly 60-pound tarpon to the pier, and fishers are catching the usual Spanish mackerel and mangrove snapper, as well as a couple redfish.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me the Fish Charters out of the Cortez Fishing Center said offshore fishing has been great. “Monster red grouper are one of the hot species this month,” he said. “The best action you’ll find is 120 feet and deeper for the fire truck-red grouper. Along with these bruisers of grouper, we’re catching gag and scamp grouper, American red snapper, mangrove snapper, yellowtail snapper, lane snapper, tilefish, and mahi-mahi on the offshore reefs and wreck. We’ve also been catching amberjacks, smoker kingfish, cobia, barracudas and a variety of large sharks.”

McGuire said for his red grouper trips, he’s been starting out on broken-up, sand-and-rock bottoms in water depths ranging from 120 to 160 feet, using dead sardines and squid. “This combination of bait gets the red grouper fired up and then we throw in some dessert of live baits, such as pinfish, sand perch and grunts,” McGuire said. “That’s when we catch some serious monsters.”

McGuire said many of his parties need help, or even a spotter, to get the big grouper off the bottom. “Sometimes even our most fit anglers tap out and receive some help,” McGuire said.

He said July and August are great months for deepwater pelagics, especially bull dolphin. “You can catch schoolies in 100 feet and deeper, but the bull mahi-mahi are usually out past 150 feet,” McGuire said. “That seems to really be the hot zone this month. We like to troll skirted bally-hoo at about 5 knots at this time of the year. Using the trolling method, you can certainly catch wahoo, billfish and blackfin tuna. It’s both exciting and intense. While I troll, I’m always watching my depth-finder and ferreting out new grouper and snapper spots.”

Annamae Lahay from Corky’s Live Bait & Tackle received reports that the waters of Palma Sola and Sarasota bays have been good for fishermen after redfish and spotted sea trout, which are in the grass flats. She said fishers are having the best luck using live select-size shrimp.

Inshore anglers have been catching black drum, ladyfish, some bluefish, Spanish mackerel, flounder and mangrove snapper.

“The waters around Longboat Key pass have been holding whiting, snook, mangrove snapper, some flounder and black drum,” she said. “During the evening and night hours, fishermen have been having quite a bit of luck catching different types of shark. Some fishermen are still having luck catching some tarpon, but the numbers have decreased greatly in the last few weeks in this spot.”

Lahay added there are some reports that tarpon are still quite plentiful around the tip of the Island and under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

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

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