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Date of Issue: May 05, 2005

Fishing
It takes two hands
Vicki Cochran of Palmetto caught a couple of nice-sized grouper while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire last week
Click on image to enlarge

Redfish picking up slack for lost snook due to season close

We can kiss the good-tasting snook goodbye for a while with the close of the season May 1, but trout and redfish are apparently picking up the linesider slack. Some backwater anglers are reporting upwards of 20 hookups for the spotties per trip, so the season promises to be a good one for reds.

Offshore action is good for grouper and snapper in water depths of less than 80 feet in the Gulf of Mexico, and for those willing to venture farther offshore, amberjack are reported to be thick "and hungry."

There are also some reports of mackerel and a few scattered kingfish closer to the Island.

Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he caught some big keeper-snook on the waning days of the season, and he's also been putting his charters onto redfish in Sarasota Bay, with whitebait being the best choice for the hungriest of the fish.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said he's hearing good reports of redfish being caught in Sarasota Bay in the past few days. Snook season went out with a bang, and all he's hearing is good things about linesider action being big and plentiful. Trout are still spawning, Bill said, and big ones are still being caught but, please, release any trout bigger than 24 inches to let them be caught another day. Offshore action for grouper and snapper remain steady in the 100-foot depths in the Gulf, and farther offshore amberjack are pretty much everywhere and hungry. Trolling action for the pelagics hasn't really started to happen just yet, but should any day, Bill added.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said action there includes a few redfish, some small sharks, mackerel and pompano and the sheepshead have "definitely left the dock" for the summer.

Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said some good-sized snook were caught just before the season closed May 1, as well as a few mackerel, some big bonnethead sharks and some flounder.

At Skyway Bait & Tackle, the word is redfish in Terra Ceia Bay, mangrove snapper by the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and its piers, plus some grouper caught trolling the ship channel in Tampa Bay last week.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said there were lots of big snook caught in the last days of the season from Terra Ceia Bay. There were a few youthful anglers that brought in a 23-inch flounder to the dock last week, and he's still seeing lots of trout coming from in front of Terra Ceia. Kingfish were also a good catch for the Gulf fishers, he added.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he's catching plenty of trout and redfish, with limit catches happening on almost all of his charters.

At the Perico Island Bait and Tackle, snook were coming on strong before the season closed — of course — plus lots of red fish from Palma Sola Bay and around Longbar Point in Sarasota Bay. Offshore action for kingfish is good in about 55 feet of water in the Gulf, and grouper are coming on strong in the 70-foot depths of late, according to reports.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said with the end of snook season he's targeting redfish right now, and having very good luck on the spotties as well as trout, snapper, mackerel and flounder.

Capt. Brian Kuslic said he's had a bunch of good days of great catches of redfish and trout.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said, "Fishing is hot right now, when you can get out in between the fronts, rain and wind. We have been catching gag grouper to 15 pounds, red grouper to 12 pounds, blacktip sharks to 6 feet in length, barracuda to 5 feet, mangrove snapper to 5 pounds, and lots of school kingfish chummed up to the back of our boat." Capt. Larry said most of his best fishing is coming from inside the 100-foot-depths in the Gulf, and added that he's still catching some kingfish on live bait and spoons.

On my boat Magic, we've averaged 20 redfish caught per trip, plus lots of trout to 25 inches in length and a few bluefish to 4 pounds.

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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