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Date of Issue: June 16, 2005

Fishing
Another nice gag
Megan Casner, 20, from York, Pa., caught a nice-sized gag grouper while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire on Show Me The Fish Charters.
Click on image to enlarge

Tarpon season in full bloom off Island beaches

Despite a wet, windy weekend, the fishing remains constant off the Island.

Backwater fishing for trout, redfish and catch-and-release snook remains good. Mackerel action has slowed a little off the piers, but there are still a few hookups.

Offshore fishing took the biggest beating due to Tropical Storm Arlene, which moved up the Gulf of Mexico last weekend, but those few anglers who were able to brave the depths before the storm blew through did well with snapper and grouper.

Tarpon action seems to be a slow starter this season, with few catches coming in so far and at least one charter captain predicting the real “season” won’t crank up until July.

Capt. Thom Smith at Angler’s Repair on Cortez Road said he went out early last week and caught catch-and-release snook to 28 inches, redfish to 22 inches, trout up to 19 inches, all using whitebait or Mister Twister lures, with most of his hookups coming from the Perico Island seagrass flats.

At Island Discount Tackle, the word is plenty of redfish from Sarasota Bay and good reports of trout around the seagrass flats near Key Royale. Offshore was just too rough to fish for most of last week, but all indications are pointing for a better week ahead.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said last Friday was a banner day there, with lots of snook, black drum and redfish caught before the weather blew in and blew out the weekend fishing.

Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier said there are lots of snook being caught there at night, plus bluefish, small sharks and a few mackerel, but again the weather kept most anglers under cover for the weekend.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he heard of some really nice-sized catch-and-release snook coming from Terra Ceia Bay, plus mangrove snapper being caught off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and near the shipping channel. Trout are also a good bet by Joe’s Island and black drum are thick in the cut and near the Snead Island boat docks.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said his best bets with the high winds and lousy weather were redfish and a few catch-and-release snook from the bays.

Perico Island Bait and Tackle reportswade fishers are doing very well with trout and redfish in Palma Sola Bay, and boating anglers are catching a lot of snapper, flounder and sharks in Tampa Bay, but the offshore action has been hampered by all the wind and weather out in the Gulf of Mexico.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said on the days he could get out he did well with snook, redfish and trout, “but it was some tough fishing last week.”

At Skyway Bait & Tackle, the reports are good of mackerel from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge piers, plus some small grouper and lots of yellowtail jacks and small sharks.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said fishing was “real good before the tropical depression. Our clients were catching gag and red grouper up to 15 pounds, mangrove snapper to 5 pounds and lots of blacktip sharks to 5 feet in length, as well as school kingfish.” Most of his action is coming from about 85-foot depths of water in the Gulf, with live bait working the best to catch the hungry fish.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie’s said despite Tropical Storm Arlene it was “a pretty good week, with a wide variety of species taken: snook to 30 inches, reds to 29 inches, trout to 24 inches, hefty Spanish mackeral, scrappy bluefish and a few mangrove snapper.”

Capt. Zach added that “tarpon continue to be a thorn in my side with very few hook-ups for this time in June. There just doesn’t seem to be the numbers of silver giants in the areas I normally see, and everything is running a little behind schedule.” His advice is to experiment with other techniques when the old standbys aren’t working, roll with the punches, be persistent and try different approaches to get the fish to cooperate with you.

On my boat Magic, we took a fisherman’s holiday to the Florida Keys last week and caught a bunch of yellowtail, lane and mangrove snapper, plus scamp and legal-size grouper.

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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