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Date of Issue: May 26, 2005

Fishing

It's tarpon time once again off Anna Maria Island

Tarpon season is here in full force, with a near-world-record catch of a 236-pound silver king in Tampa Bay last week. The fish are hanging out near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, and should start working out of the bays and along the beaches any day now, if they aren't there already.

Backwater fishing for trout, redfish and catch-and-release snook is good, and there are some reports of flounder coming to the hook.

Offshore, look for lots of snapper and grouper in about 100 feet of water.

And speaking of the water, it is very, very clear right now and will probably remain that way until we get some rain to murk things up.

Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he took a "fisherman's holiday" to Boca Grande last week and caught some good-size snook, redfish and trout in Bull Bay. Around Pine Island, he said trout were plentiful and big.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said tarpon are starting to show up in greater numbers every day now. Most silver kings are being caught near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay, with the owner of Bett's Tackle out of Clearwater catching a 236-pound monster last week. Inshore, it's redfish and trout, while offshore action for snapper and grouper is good in about 100 feet of water.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier in Anna Maria said action there includes a few mackerel and redfish, but some really big snook under the pier aren't biting. The water is also really clear, he added.

Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said fishers there are catching mackerel, jacks, flounder, small sharks and catch-and-release snook at night.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said there are some really big snook hanging out around the cut in the mornings, plus a 23-inch flounder was brought back to the dock last week. Mackerel are out in front of Terra Ceia Bay right now, and he's also hearing reports of tarpon in Tampa Bay.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said it's mackerel in the mornings for his charters, and plenty of redfish and catch-and-release snook in the afternoons and on the falling tides.

At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, fishing bests include good-size trout caught by the wade fishers in the evenings. There are also good reports of redfish in Palma Sola Bay. Boating fishers are catching snapper and mackerel by the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

At Skyway Bait and Tackle, reports include mackerel as the best bet by the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Piers. Redfish are also being caught in Joe's Bay north of the big bridge.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said mackerel, snapper and kingfish are good for his charters while fishing in the Gulf, and reds and trout are pretty thick in the bays. Overall, Capt. Tom said fishing is pretty good now.

On my boat Magic, we trolled offshore in about 40 feet of water last week and caught several keeper-size gag grouper to 10 pounds. Backwater fishing was good for redfish and trout, with an average of 20 red hookups per trip. Trout were running to 20 inches and flounder were right at 17 inches for most catches.

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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