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Date of Issue: April 02, 2008

Spring shows kingfish offshore, first cobia sighting

Fishing pic
Whoa boy, big fish
Jack Gryboski, age 7, of Holmes Beach and Atlanta, caught this nice keeper gag grouper plus another released one, one snapper and many grunts while fishing with family about nine miles offshore of Anna Maria in about 45 feet of Gulf water.
Fishing pic
Jack Graves, age 11, caught this snook while fishing with Capt. Tom Chaya on March 26. Jack is visiting his grandparents, the Kings, on Longboat Key while on spring break.

Last week I saw this year’s first cobia, a bit undersized but the first observed this spring and a good sign of things to come.

Most people are saying sheepshead are getting ready to roll out and leave for deep water until winter comes around again. Snook fishing is heating up and a few kingfish are showing up, taking the bait.

Capt. Larry McGuire says he’s seeing lots of big kingfish up to 45 pounds.

The season is changing, unfortunately, just as winter visitors and fishers are packing up to go north. The fishing and the weather will be heating up from here forward.

Capt. Sam Kimball out of Annie’s Bait & Tackle on Cortez Road said that offshore he’s finding amberjack, grouper and snapper are his best bets, while Capt. Mark “Marco” Johnston of Annie’s said inshore fishing for snook and redfish are his best bets, but they’ve also been catching mackerel and mangrove snapper.

Capt. Rick Gross out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said snook fishing is starting to break loose and his charters reeled up some sheepshead, mackerel, mangrove snapper and a few redfish.

Capt. Tom Chaya at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach says the kingfish have started their migration north and quite a few have been caught in the 10-mile range of Anna Maria Island. Snook and reds have been on the increase with last week’s warmer temperatures, he said, and his charters are finding trout and Spanish mackerel are hitting on the edges of deep grass.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach says that offshore fishers are finding grouper moving in a bit deeper water, 85-100 feet, snapper fishing on offshore wrecks is excellent, and big amberjack - 50-to 60-pounders - are coming to the hook on far offshore wrecks.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier says the sheepshead are “in full swing, but he thinks they’re getting ready to leave as the water warms up.” Mackeral, bluefish and jacks have been showing up on pier hooks by day and some snook at night.

Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier said fishers there are finding mackeral in the daytime, sheepshead in mornings mainly, snook at night.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters says “Fishing is on fire offshore of Anna Maria Island.” His charters are catching lots of big kingfish up to 45 pounds, big gag and red grouper, mangrove, yellowtail and lane snapper, triggerfish, porgys and amberjacks.

“Everyone wants to know where the kings are,” says Capt. Larry, and “they’re behind my boat and in my party coolers.” The kings have been working in about 40 feet of water and big blue runners are the “hot bait.” He adds that grouper and snapper action also has gone wild with best results out past the 90-foot depths.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina says that by the end of last week the weather finally settled, little wind, 80-degree days, good fishing! It started out a bit rough and cold, but surprisingly produced some quality results. Warren Larsen and Jeff Romali of Portage, Ind., braved cold temperatures and howling winds to boat a good catch of snook to 29 inches, reds to 20 inches, speckled trout and flounder. Live shrimp and artificials both worked well. A root beer colored gold-glitter DOA Terror Eyes produced exceptionally well. At the end of the week, Casey Cox and sons Skyler and Andrew from Palo Alto, Calif., joined me on an idylic day in the Gulf of Mexico, where we did quite well with hefty mango snapper, big sheepies, grouper, key west grunts and big spanish mackerel. On the way back in, we hit a couple of inshore spots where young Skyler nailed a nice red and the trio all got some good action with trout and ladyfish.

Capt. Zach says a couple of nice days has made whitebait a lot easier to get on the deep grass north of the Anna Maria Island Bridge. If the benign weather continues, and it looks as if it will, fishing will breaking out all over the area, both inshore and offshore.

He adds, however, that when late cold snaps such as we’ve had knock down the water temperatures in the nearshore Gulf enough where the big schools of bait stay farther offshore, the pelagic run will pass us by much farther offshore where the temperatures are more stable. Optimistically, however, I think we will still get in on some of the action however.

Fishing around Anna Maria has been exceptional this week for Capt. Mark Howard of Sumotime Fishing Charters. After the  weather calmed down and the temperature warmed up, “the fishing turned on,” Howard said. “My clients this week caught many exceptional speckled trout between 17 and 24 inches. Snook have been chewin’ hard with some big keepers to 32 inches. Redfish have been active down south and shiners are showing up in the Spring time spots. Offshore, the kingfish are approximately 15 miles out, according to a fellow charter captain.”

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House saysthere aregood snook reports coming in with fishers to his dock and he saw one fisher with a 34-incher. Sheepshead and mangrove snapper are hooking up all along the Sunshine Skyway Bridge channel.

At Tropic Isles Marina, where I fish from,fishers are having good luck with trout and lots of keepers from Terra Ceia Bay, and the redfish catch is working well there up tight to the trees.

On my boat Magic, we’re seeing limit catches of redfish on almost every charter, while sheepshead are tapering off, and we had one keeper snook at 28 inches.

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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