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Date of Issue: June 17, 2009

Tarpon, trout, catch-and-release snook: fishing is great

Fishing pic
Offshore bounty
A day on the water produced a full cooler of fish for these happy fishers. Pictured are Jairo Yepes and son Arnoldo of Sarasota and Tim Smith of Bradenton with JoAnn Manali and Capt. Anthony Manali. Tim caught the 90-pound blacktip shark, which put up an awesome fight and "was fun as heck to get into the boat," JoAnn said.
Fishing pic
Big catch for a little angler
Anna Shearer, 8, caught this whopper kingfish while fishing with Capt. Sam Kimball. The fish stretched to 30 inches, and she’s reportedly still grinning from ear to ear.

Suggestion to all fishers: Bring a big stick to smack the fish that jump into your boat or onto your dock. Fishing is that good.

Reports are still great both inshore and out in the Gulf of Mexico for almost anything you want to catch.

Mackerel have invaded the passes and are migrating into the shallows of the bays. Trout fishing is superb right now as well, with the best action coming at either incoming or outgoing tides near the deeper seagrass flats.

Catch-and-release snook are lined up along the beaches everywhere. “If your feet are wet, you’re out too far,” seems to be the axiom for the best linesider action, as the fish are that close to shore.

Tarpon are everywhere.

And red and mangrove snapper are a good bet offshore, as well as sharks.

Capt. Thom Smith said he went out last week with buddy Capt. Art Weaver, intending to target mackerel and cobia, and only found blacktip sharks. His trip was near Egmont Key in Tampa Bay.

Capt. Mark Johnston out of Annie’s Bait & Tackle in Cortez said he’s finding fishing to be “fantastic. We’re catching 28-inch trout in Sarasota Bay and Longboat Pass, and tarpon are everywhere. Catch a tarpon in the morning and monster trout in the afternoon.”

Capt. Sam Kimball, also out of Annies, said he took Dick and Hilda Talbert of Texas out for five days last week and put them on limit catches of pretty much everything the Gulf of Mexico has to offer. Dick caught an 18-inch red grouper, which Hilda bested with her 23-inch mahi-mahi. They also caught lots of red snapper.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said Spanish mackerel are a big-time catch right now, pretty much everywhere. “They’re off the north end of the Island by the piers,” he said, “but they’re also on the deeper seagrass flats in the bays.” Bill advised that anybody should be able to catch a huge trout on the same flats near the Intracoastal Waterway, with the trick being to work any moving tide and use some form of shiny lure or sardine. Catch-and-release snook on the beaches “are beyond belief. I can’t remember snook fishing every being so good. I believe it’s because of the closed season stretching to May, which is keeping the armada of boats away, allowing the snook to can get back to the beach. The fish are right by the beach — if your feet are wet, you’re out too far to catch snook.” Tarpon season is in full swing, he said, adding that this part of Florida is about as good as it gets for the silver kings. Look for them pretty much everywhere: just off the beaches, north or south of Egmont Key, near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge or around Longboat Pass and Whitney Beach. Red snapper plus mangrove snapper are back in season offshore, and the bite is good.

Bob Kilb the Rod & Reel Pier in Anna Maria said the catch of the week was by a British visitor who caught a 250-pound hammerhead shark from the pier. Other action there includes lots of mackerel, snapper and drum.

Rocky Corby at the Anna Maria City Pier said all the kids at the pier were having a great time catching blue runners and jacks. The elder fishers were more serious in their catch of snapper and mackerel, plus some sharks.

Capt. Logan Bystrom said tarpon fishing has been great off the beach in the mornings and evenings. He took Dr. Lee Parisi, the new veterinarian at dad Bill’s Island Animal Clinic, out last week, and on Thursday her fiance caught his first tarpon. Michael Brusso of Holmes Beach caught his first tarpon Friday, and we’ve also been catching nice-size catch-and-release snook off the beach using shiners as bait.

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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