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Date of Issue: March 30, 2005

Fishing

In a word: Wow!
Tony Gilstrap, fishing with buddies John Birge and Buzzy Roak, all of Holmes Beach, had a good day on the water while catching three nice-sized red grouper, one gag grouper and, as Tony put it, "this 37-inch monster red grouper. I'm not sure how much it weighed, but it looked like a 55-gallon drum coming up from the bottom."
Click on image to enlarge

Sheepshead at near-peak action right now

Sheepshead are it right now in fishing action around Anna Maria Island.

The big striped fighters - some reports are up to 7 pounds - are spawning and hungry right now, and seem to be congregating around almost any bit of rock or piling or piece of a piling in the bays and Gulf of Mexico. Best bet for bait includes fiddler crabs, sand fleas or even a piece of shrimp.

Offshore action for snapper is also good, as is inshore fishing for trout, redfish and the occasional snook.

Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he's putting his charters onto lots and lots of sheepshead, trout, flounder and a few redfish, with the best action coming from Terra Ceia or Miguel bays. Bait of choice for the best catches, he added, was shrimp.

Bill Lowman of Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said sheepshead are No. 1 in the fishing hit parade right now, with some monster 7-pounders coming in from almost any structure: Pier, dock, rock or piling. Best bet for a good catch on the spawning sheepies is sand fleas, fiddler crabs or shrimp. Other action includes snapper in the Gulf of Mexico and pompano along the beaches.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said he's seeing lots of sheepshead, bluefish, flounder and some pompano come onto the dock in the past week.

Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said sheepshead are hanging around every piling at the pier right now, and should be hungry and available to anglers for the next couple of weeks. Other action includes whiting, bluefish, a few snapper, flounder and black drum.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he's hearing that there are lots of whiting being caught, as well as big trout out of Terra Ceia Bay and sheepshead near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge piers.

At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, reports indicate there is a good pompano run going on right now. There are also lots of trout being caught off the seagrass flats in the bays, plus a good-sized 30-inch redfish that came out of Palma Sola Bay, and lots of sheepshead being reeled up from the bridges.

At Skyway Bait and Tackle, reports include sheepshead, silver trout, small grouper and lots of redfish coming out of Terra Ceia Bay.

On my boat Magic, we've been catching redfish to 26 inches, sheepshead to 22 inches, flounder to 16 inches, snapper to 15 inches, plus a few keeper-size snook.

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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