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Date of Issue: May 27, 2009

Tarpon, trout, reds ... all biting right now

Fishing pic
Ben Beauvais, left, of Boston, and Capt. Logan Bystrom show off a nice 40-pound cobia Beauvais caught while fishing with Bystrom May 22 in some rainy Boston-like weather off Anna Maria Island.
Fishing pic
Good catch
Dr. Andy Sharma and wife Amy, along with friend Andy, reeled in a good catch while fishing with Capt. Anthony Manali on Team Legmaker last week.

It’s still a great time to go fishing.

Backwater: trout and redfish. They’re big, they’re hungry and they’re hitting on almost anything thrown in the water, from live to artificial bait.

Nearshore/passes: It’s all mackerel, tarpon and snook. Silver kings are along the beaches, mostly off Longboat Pass and Whitney Beach. Macks are thick near the piers off the north end of Anna Maria Island. Snook are everywhere near the shore.

Offshore: grouper, especially gags, are out there, but figure to go at least 20 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico for the best bite. Snapper also are a good bet, and king mackerel catches continue to be great.

Capt. Sam Kimball out of Annie’s Bait & Tackle on Cortez Road said he’s putting his charters onto lots of grouper and kingfish offshore. Best action is coming about 45 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico. He’s also catching snapper.

Capt. Mark Johnston of Annie’s said his inshore charters are great, as whitebait is finally starting to show up. He’s hitting redfish near the mangroves, and is finding that fish are hungry for the bait he’s netting out in the Gulf. “Beach bait are frisky,” Capt. Mark said, “and the bay fish seem to like it.” He’s catching king mackerel and mackerel, plus barracuda in the near-shore areas, with Palma Sola Bay being a prime spot for the best redfish action. He’s also catching trout in the bays, but the fish are generally too big to keep. Tarpon are “everywhere,” Capt. Mark added, anywhere from Whitney Beach to Egmont Key.

      Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fish Charters predicted that fishing should turn on this week with “very nice tides and the fish chewing hard. With all the rain, the fish are moving out of the river and creeks and moving toward the beach and open water. Tarpon are thick off the beach and passes. Remember stealth is the key to catching the silver king.” He added that redfish and speckled trout are “feeding heavy.”

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said snook are the hot button fish right now, mostly near the beaches. He suggests a castnet for garnering whitebait, casting just offshore. Mirrolure or Mirrodine artificials also are producing the big linesiders. Bill suggested pretty much anywhere along the Island for good snook catches. Backwater action is still all trout all the time, with both artificials and live bait producing good catches. Redfish are roaming around the mangroves, but Bill suggested to wait for outgoing tides and start fishing off oyster beds and away from the trees for best results. Offshore, snapper and grouper fishing is fantastic, but most of the best action is at least 20 miles out in the Gulf. Tarpon are everywhere, but seem congregated near Longboat Pass and Whitney Beach. First thing in the morning is best, he said, and pass crabs are the best bait, although Bill said he’s heard of some silver kings hitting shrimp.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said it’s mackerel and snapper at the pier for his fishers.

Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said mackerel are the best bet at the city pier right now. Tarpon are starting to roll by the pier with only a few hookups, but fishers are catching lots of mangrove snapper, flounder, cobia and stingrays.

Good luck and good fishing.

Fishing news and photos are welcome and may be submitted to Paul Roat by e-mail at paul@islander.org.

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