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Date of Issue: March 12, 2008

Snook season starts with good linesider catches in bays

Fishing pic
How do you handle a whopper! Islander Fred Bartizal, owner of the BridgeTender Inn in Bradenton Beach, caught this 10-pound gag grouper while fishing in the Gulf of Mexico with Capt. Mike Greig of Holmes Beach.

Sheepshead are the mainstay for backwater fishers right now, as are redfish and some big trout. Snook season has also started off well in the bays.

Offshore fishing is great for grouper, snapper and amberjack

Capt. Sam Kimball of Annie’s Bait & Tackle on Cortez Road said he’s catching gag grouper and mangrove snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. Capt. Mark Johnson of Annie’s said his backwater trips are producing redfish, snook, trout and sheepshead.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said offshore waters have been rough with all the wind, but for those able to get out, grouper and snapper fishing has been great in waters less than 80 feet in depth. He added that about 90 percent of the fish caught were of legal size, too. In the bays, redfish are being caught on the seagrass flats, Bill said, as well as some big trout and “sheepshead are everywhere.”

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said sheepshead are biting well, with some coming onto the dock at 4 pounds. There are also some redfish being caught, plus black drum. He also said that snook season has started off well with some big linesiders coming onto the pier.

Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier said anglers there are catching lots of snook at night, a few mackerel and a generally mixed bag of fish with the warm water: bluefish, black drum and a lot of bonnethead sharks.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said that trout, redfish and sheepshead are his best bets.

At Tropic Isles Marina, reports are that trout are coming out of Terra Ceia Bay, as well as sheepshead.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said snook are starting to show in good numbers. There are also plenty of Spanish mackerel hitting on shiners at the piers and in the Gulf. “Trout numbers were very good in deep seagrass flats,” he said, and he’s finding big sheepshead all around the Gulf.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said fishing was good earlier in the week before the cold front moved in, and he said it should continue when the wind calms down. “We were catching all the big amberjack you wanted to catch,” he said, “then we would start working the snapper, catching mangroves, lanes, vermilions and catch-and-release American red snapper. The larger fish were caught out about 45 miles. Closer in, inside 9 miles, we are catching lots of gag and red grouper, with a few keepers, as well as snapper, triggerfish, porgys, sheepshead, Spanish mackrel and kingfish.”

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina saidthat “another strong cold front is upon us that will stall the spring fishing bonanza by a little bit. “The winter has been pretty good with above-average action and a definite diversity in species. When the weather finally settles there should be some heavy-duty action both in the Gulf and in the bays.” He said that fishing in the bays are producing redfish, snook and trout, as well as nice-sized flounder, pompano, big jack crevalle, sheepshead, mangrove snapper and ladyfish. “Before the windy weather that has kept us inshore,” he added, “the catch in the Gulf was nothing short of phenomenal. Huge sheepshead, hefty mangrove snapper, numerous grouper, Spanish mackerel, bluefish and Key West grunts kept my anglers hopping. A notable catch was a 22 inch hogfish caught off a small wreck in 27 feet of water. The same day a huge cobia was hooked and lost at the same spot.”

On my boat Magic, we’ve been limiting on reds, mangrove snapper and some sheepshead.

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 news@islander.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.

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