Harold Andersen of Longboat Key caught this whopper 6-pound sheesphead while out with Capt. Tom Chaya.
Sheepies still No. 1 inshore, grouper hot in Gulf
It's still all sheepshead all the time in the backwaters, with fish coming in at better than 5 pounds for most folks. Other inshore action includes a few redfish, some trout, an occasional snook and a couple of flounder.
Action is still hot for grouper, snapper and amberjack offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.
Capt. Wayne Genthner of Wolfmouth Charters said that "as the bay warmed up, the redfish and sheepshead action went into overdrive with big catches of critters for everybody. Out on the Gulf, the big snapper bite brought smiles all around as the fish boxes filled with mangrove snapper, gag grouper and one heck of a big 10-pound porgy caught on a live jumbo shrimp. Good things are also happening in Sarasota Bay. We're seeing a few manatees in the channels along with some huge snook, which are taking up residence under dock lights at night. We're looking forward to some excellent evening snooking this week."
Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he put his clients onto amberjack to 40 pounds, red grouper and gag grouper to 25 pounds, mangrove snapper to 7 pounds, yellowtail snapper to 4 pounds, plus margates, porgys and blacktip sharks to 4 feet in length." He said he's been fishing in the Gulf at 155-foot depths, with the best bait for grouper being frozen Spanish sardines, and live shrimp for the snapper.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's said he took Joe O'Meara, son-in-law Scott Nelson and grandsons Andrew and Shawn Nelson from Fargo, N.D., to a mixed bag of snook, reds, sheepshead, bluefish, speckled trout and gray trout. "Andrew Nelson managed a backwater slam of trout, snook, and redfish, which is a red-letter catch in February around these parts," Capt. Zach said. "The recent run of above-normal temperatures brought the nearshore Gulf to 68 degrees and backwater areas to 73 degrees. Look for some Spanish mackerel and maybe some cobia to be on the scene in the next few weeks."
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he put his charters onto a few small redfish and trout last week, with artificials working the best as bait, plus sheepshead on live shrimp.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said offshore fishing is hot, with lots and lots of grouper, snapper, triggerfish and amberjack on the artificials reefs off the Island in the Gulf. Backwater fishing includes a few redfish by Sister Keys in north Sarasota Bay and plenty of sheepshead from the bridges and docks.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said fishing improved a bit last week, with a few more sheepshead being caught, but action is still not up to normal winter standards.
Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said fishing there is a bit slow, but there are still a slew of sheepshead coming onto the deck.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he's been seeing mainly sheepshead in the past week, plus a few mangrove snapper and a couple of nice-size flounder. There are also reports of redfish coming out of Terra Ceia Bay, he added.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said sheepies were his catch last week, with some fish coming in at better than 5 pounds. He also caught a few snapper and flounder near the docks in Palma Sola Bay.
At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, reports included sheepshead from the Anna Maria Island Bridge and a few redfish from the canals on the east side of the Island.
At Skyway Bait and Tackle, sheepshead is the No. 1 fish so far this week, with some fish coming in at better than 5 pounds. There are also a few mangrove snapper lurking around the channel by the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, and a few snook have been caught in Terra Ceia Bay at night.
On my boat Magic, we're averaging up to 30 sheepshead hookups per trip, plus a few pompano, whiting, black drum and some big trout caught near the beaches.
Good luck and good Fishing.
Capt. Mike Heistand is a 20-year-plus fishing guide. Call him at 723-1107 to provide a fishing report. Prints and digital images of your catch are also welcome and may be dropped off at The Islander, 5404 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include identification for persons in the picture along with information on the catch and a name and phone number for more information. Snapshots may be retrieved once they appear in the paper.