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Date of Issue: March 30, 2005

Fishing

Big trout are out there
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair shows off one of the big trout he regularly puts his charters onto. Learn some of his fishing tips and secrets Thursday at The Islander fishing school.
Click on image to enlarge

Fishing school Thursday at fire station in Holmes Beach

You've still got time to sign up for The Islander fishing school starting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 25. Joining me will be Capt. Rick Gross, Capt. Thom Smith and Capt. Larry McGuire to talk about where, when and how to catch fish using live and artificial lures, plus tips and techniques for bottom fishing and trolling.

There will be lots of free prizes and fishing lures, a door prize for a charter trip, and an Islander "More Than A Mullet Wrapper" T-shirt for paid attendees.

The school will be held at Fire Station No. 1, 6001 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Pre-register at The Islander, 5404 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, or you can pay at the door.

Cost is $35 per person, kids under age 16 admitted free with a paid adult. Call 778-7978 for more information.

And now for the fishing report:

Mackerel are the best bet this week, with lots of hungry macks roaming near the piers and out in the Gulf of Mexico.

There are still some big sheepshead out there too, with some reports of catches up to 7 pounds. Trout are big and hungry now as well, plus some small snook and lots of redfish.

Offshore grouper fishing is great as long as the winds cooperate, and snapper action is also good.

Kingfish should start their run along the coast any day now.

Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he's been fishing Palma Sola Bay and catching lots of trout, mackerel and bluefish on almost every cast. Friday he went up to Miguel Bay and got a lot of snook and redfish.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said mackerel are thick around almost every pier and bridge, trout fishing is getting better every day, and sheepshead are still being caught but are starting to slow. Offshore, when the winds die down, grouper fishing is excellent in about 90 feet of water. Snapper action is also good and, although the kingfish run hasn't started yet, they should appear any day now.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said sheepshead are still No. 1 at the pier, but there are also some catches of pompano, mackerel, bluefish and some small snook.

Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said fishers there are getting into mackerel almost every day, with small spoons and white jigs working the best as bait. Sheepshead are still being caught, plus some small flounder, and there are also a few snook coming onto the deck.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he's seeing lots of small snook being caught, with a few keeper and one 10-year-old youth reeling in a 31-inch linesider last week. Mackerel are near the rocks in front of Terra Ceia Bay, and there are still lots of big sheepshead being caught on the Port Manatee artificial reef system.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said snook fishing is good when he can get whitebait. He's also catching a few redfish, some really big trout, and lots of Spanish mackerel.

At the Perico Island Bait and Tackle, fishers report trout and redfish are thick on the seagrass flats in the bays. There are lots of mackerel being caught by boaters, although snook action is slow due to a lack of whitebait on the flats so far.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said he's getting his charters onto keeper-size grouper, snapper fishing is excellent right now, he's finding lots of Spanish mackerel, big trout but no kingfish.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's said he's getting his charters onto trout in the backwater to 24 inches, snook to 30 inches, redfish to 26 inches, plus mackerel, jacks, ladyfish, some sheepshead, a few flounder and one kingfish.

On my boat Magic, Scottie Stoddard of Longboat Key caught and released a 38-inch-long, 30-pound snook last week, plus trout to 20 inches. We've also been catching large sheepshead to 7 pounds, black drum to 18 pounds, snook to 27 inches and redfish to 26 inches.

Good luck and good fishing.

Capt. Mike Heistand is a 20-year fishing guide. Call him at 779-9607 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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