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Date of Issue: March 19, 2008

Kingfish run expected any day now; sheepies near peak

Fishing pic
Chuck Slater caught this 10-pound gag grouper while fishing with Capt. Mike Grieg of Holmes Beach.

Want some fish? Just drop a line and go ahead on it.

Almost everything that swims in both the Gulf of Mexico and the bays seems to be biting right now.

Offshore grouper fishing is great and should get better now that the grouper season has opened again in federal waters, outside nine miles from shore. There are also good reports of amberjack and all species of snapper.

In the backwaters, look for a whole slew of fish for the cooler and the frying pan: redfish, trout, snapper, bluefish and sheepshead galore.

Kingfish should start the run up the coast any day now, too.

Capt. Sam Kimball out of Annie’s Bait & Tackle on Cortez Road said his offshore charters were doing well with grouper, amberjack, lane snapper and triggerfish. Capt. Mark Johnson of Annie’s said his inshore fishing trips were reeling in redfish, plus mackerel just off the beaches of the Island.

At Tropic Isles Marina, reports include lots of sheepshead and small but legal-size redfish, plus trout up to 17 inches. There are also mackerel to be had in Terra Ceia Bay.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said offshore fishing has improved, with gag grouper being caught in less than 50 feet of water. Trolling is working well for the bigger grouper. There are also catches of mangrove snapper, and kingfish should show up any time now. In the backwater, look for sheepshead and redfish, with reds hitting best on the falling tides.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said sheepshead fishing is about at its peak, with the convict fish coming onto the dock up to 4 pounds. He said to look for sheepies only for the next few weeks, because they will soon be gone for the season. Other action includes small redfish and black drum, plus some mackerel. Bob added that there are a lot of whitebait around the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said it’s mackerel, sheepies and small mangrove snapper, plus some snook being caught at night.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said snook fishing is improving, with some catches up to 34 inches. Mangrove snapper are hanging around the docks, and he keeps hearing of good-sized black drum being caught in the Manatee River.

Capt. Mark Howard  of SumoTime Charters said that he’s finding fishing around Anna Maria to be excellent. “We have been catching redfish, flounder, snook, trout, mackerel, very small sharks and ladyfish,” he said.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he is catching “all the amberjack you want or can handle. We are also catching monster mangrove snapper, yellowtail snapper, lane snapper, vermillion snapper, triggerfish, porgys and scamp grouper. The best action is out past 40 miles in 150-foot waters. Closer in, inside nine miles, we are catching lots of gag grouper, with some keepers in there, and lots of snapper.”

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina saidhe’s finding things to be “at the transition period, winter patterns to spring. Cooler than normal days and nights coupled with breezy conditions have kept water temperatures a bit on the cool side. Catching whitebait is a chore many days, but live shrimp and artificial offerings have been working well on most species.” His offshore charters to the nearshore reefs are producing sheepshead to 8 pounds, plus some hefty mangrove snapper, lane snapper, grouper, Key West grunts, bluefish and Key West grunts and Spanish mackerel. “A number of 20- to 23-inch hogfish have been taken lately as well,” he said, adding,“We are right on the cusp of kings and cobia moving into the area. They have been caught for a number of weeks near the mouth of Charlotte Harbor and will be following schools of bait into our area any day. There have been a lot of small blue runners out there, harbingers of the spring pelagic run.” Backwater fishing includes some sketchy snook catches but good redfish and trout action, plus sheepshead, black drum and mangrove snapper and an occasional pompano.

On my boat Magic, we’re starting to see snook start to come onto the hooks, plus some redfish. We caught 12 sheepshead and 12 snapper on back-to-back charters last week

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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