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Date of Issue: April 16, 2008

Trout come back to bays; grouper, snapper still good offshore

Fishing pic
Wow! Silver king's first appearance
Billy Alstrom, 17, at right, caught this tarpon April 11 while fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. The Longboat Key youth is pictured with friend Zach Wadeck, 15. Both are students at Manatee High School. Islander Photo: Courtesy Alex Mott

The backwater word this week is flounder and trout.

I caught a 21-inch flattie last week, one the biggest I’ve landed in at least three years.

It appears the trout have finally made a comeback from the bad red tide a few years ago and, although mostly small, are numerous.

Offshore action for grouper and snapper are good in the Gulf of Mexico, as are catches of amberjack a bit farther from shore.

And I had a good time while we were targeting redfish — actually, a first in all my years fishing: After an hour of fishing with no results, a charter client cast his line out, with the shiner going one way and his hook another. A red hit the hook, producing the first catch of the day — without bait.

Capt. Thom Smith out of Annie’s Bait & Tackle on Cortez Road said he’s catching small redfish, small snook and big trout, all out of Terra Ceia Bay. He’s fishing almost entirely with artificial bait with good results, he added.

      Capt. Sam Kimball, also out of Annie’s, saidhe’s catching kingfish, mackerel, grouper, snapper and triggerfish on his offshore charters.

      Capt Mark Johnson, also an Annie’s charter, said his backwater charters are producing snook, redfish and trout from Sarasota Bay, as well as mackerel and mangrove snapper.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said offshore fishing for grouper and snapper was excellent last week. Farther from the Island, there are good reports of amberjack, plus kingfish are finally starting to show. Backwater fishing is great for redfish, but they’re running a bit small — 18- to 24-inches in length. Trout have finally come back from the hit of the red tide of a few years ago, with lots of good-sized fish being boated and one crew reporting a limit catch last week.

At Tropic Isles Marina, reports include small redfish and trout, plus mackerel in Terra Ceia Bay.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said there are still some late-season sheepshead coming to anglers at the pier, plus mackerel and small redfish. A cobia was spotted but not hooked.

Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said fishers there are catching lots of macks, yellowtail jacks, mangrove snapper and sheepies, plus a few snook at night.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he’s hearing reports of good-size snook coming out of Terra Ceia and Miguel bays, plus lots of trout from the same area. He also heard of a 38-pound cobia caught near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he’s catching lots of snook, generally small but still big enough to keep. Limit catches every trip are the order of his days on the water.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said fishing “is on fire offshore of Anna Maria Island.” He said he’s putting his charters onto grouper to 30 pounds, plus lots of mangrove snapper, yellowtail snapper, scamp, big amberjack, cobia, kingfish, blacktip sharks and bull sharks up to 250 pounds. Most action is in about 135 feet of water.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina in Cortez said that water from the inshore Gulf off Manatee County “has gone gin clear, and this super clear water has found its way into the bays near the passes, making for dicey fishing. Kings and cobia finally showed up for about a week. There were big schools of thread herring near the beaches but they have moved on, too.” He said his charters picked up Spanish mackerel, bluefish, some small grouper and big jacks off Longboat Key. In north Sarasota and Palma Sola bays, Capt. Zach said he’s been catching snook to 30 inches, redfish to 24 inches, and some really big spotted sea trout. “One speck measured 26 inches, and the bulk of them boated were over 20 inches,” he said. “The trout situation has been a near-miraculous turn around from the red tides of a few years ago.”

On my boat Magic, we’ve been reeling in limit catches of redfish, trout to 20 inches, flounder and snook to 23 inches. The trout action is a good bet for April, by the way.

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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