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Date of Issue: March 30, 2005

Fishing

Big red
Brian Becher, 13, of Appleton, Wis., caught this 19-pound red grouper while fishing with Capt. Matt Denham. The fish was caught in the Gulf of Mexico about 28 miles from Anna Maria Island.
Click on image to enlarge

Tarpon reaching peak season right now in passes, off beaches

Tarpon are in their prime right now, with lots and lots of hookups off the beaches and in the passes.

Mackerel seem to be all over the place as well, with some big ones being found off the artificial reefs.

Redfish are somewhat scarce, but trout are big and seem to be the best backwater bet right now.

Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he put his charters onto catch-and-release snook to 27 inches, redfish to 26 inches, and trout to 22 inches. Capt. Thom said artificial lures are working the best for him right now, with Exudes doing the job best and darker colored artificials working the best of all this time of year.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said the beach report features mackerel right now, with snook coming up into the passes, redfish on the seagrass flats ... sounds like a horse race, doesn't it? Tarpon are about at their peak right now, with plenty of hookups being reported. Offshore action is excellent for red grouper in less than 100 feet of water, and snapper fishing is great, too.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said there have been hits in the past week on mackerel, redfish and catch-and-release snook and tarpon are rolling by almost every day.

Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said fishers there are catching flounder, mackerel, snapper, a few 5-foot-long bull sharks and plenty of yellowtail jacks. Tarpon are also cruising by the pier daily, he added.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said redfish are starting to make a good showing in and around Terra Ceia Bay. Snapper fishing in the ship channel in Tampa Bay is excellent right now, and mackerel are still thick near the rocks in front of Terra Ceia Bay.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he's catching lots of mackerel, permit and snapper off the artificial reefs in the Gulf. Inshore action includes lots of big trout and a few redfish.

At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, wade fishers are catching good-sized trout up to 24 inches in length and redfish to 27 inches in the sand holes amidst the seagrass flats near Perico Island. Boat fishers are doing well with lots of mackerel near the artificial reefs and, farther out in the Gulf of Mexico, grouper and snapper are the best bets.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said his charters are catching their fill of cobia, permit, snapper and mackerel offshore, with backwater fishing featuring redfish.

Capt. Matt Denham out of Catchers said he's been going way, way out in the past few days and, in the deep water at the 160-foot-level, has been cranking in lots of amberjack, grouper, snapper - both yellowtail and mangrove - plus a few American red snapper. He added that sharks and barracuda are really thick offshore right now.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he is getting good catches of red grouper to 18 pounds, gag grouper to 15 pounds, mangrove snapper to 5 pounds, blacktip sharks to 100 pounds, bonita to 10 pounds, plus some 5-foot-long barracuda and some stray kingfish to 15 pounds, all in water less than 100 feet deep with live bait - pinfish, shrimp - and assorted frozen baits such as thread herring, sardines, and squid working best. Capt. Larry also bragged a bit about fishing his first Offshore Gamefish Challenge Fishing Show in late May. "We hooked and touched the leader (which is considered a catch) of an 8-foot blue marlin on a live bonita for bait," he said, in 100-foot-deep waters, 26 miles off of Anna Maria Island. "This was unbelievable, and one of my most intense and wildest trips ever!" he added. You can catch Capt. Larry in action on Brighthouse Network Channel 47 at 9 p.m. June 24.

On my boat Magic, we caught lots of mangrove snapper to 17 inches last week, plus mackerel, trout to 24 inches, a few redfish and lots of grouper to 20 inches.

Good luck and good fishing.

Capt. Mike Heistand is a 20-year fishing guide. Call him at 779-9607 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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