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Date of Issue: June 24, 2009

Fishing continues to be great for tarpon, trout, amberjack

Fishing pic
Dolphin fish, not Flipper
Chris Davis of Riverview caught this 25-pound dolphin fish while fishing with Capt. Scott Greer of Straw Dog Charters out of Cortez. He also caught lots of red snapper and red grouper.

Sounding like a broken CD, this week’s refrain is the same on the fishing front: terrific.

Tarpon continue to be everywhere, from the beach to Tampa Bay. Fish up to 120 pounds are being caught.

Mackerel are starting to hit lures in the passes. Trout and redfish are thick in the bays. Catch-and-release snook are still along the beach.

Offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, grouper, amberjack and snapper also are easy prey for fishers. And sharks are swarming in backwaters as well as open Gulf waters.

Danny Stasny at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said fishing continues to be incredibly great off Anna Maria Island. Nearshore catches of catch-and-release snook along the beaches continue to be terrific, with any light-colored lure working great. In the backwaters, Danny said redfish are starting to school, especially around sunset. Big trout remain in the deeper seagrass flats. Offshore action continues to be wonderful for cobia. “One guy came in last week and said he caught eight,” Danny said. Also look for big grouper, huge schools of amberjack near the offshore artificial reefs, plus mangrove snapper near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Bill Walters at the Anna Maria City Pier said fishers there were catching lots of mackerel, snapper to 14 inches in length at dead tides, plus a few tarpon were hooked but lost.

Capt. Mark Johnston said he’s still hooking lots of tarpon. He took two kids, a 9- and 11-year-old, out last week and put them on a 120-pound silver king at Longboat Pass. “The fish are everywhere,” he said. He’s also catching big trout and lots of redfish in Sarasota Bay.

Capt. Sam Kimball said he’s catching lots of sharks and bonita in the near-shore Gulf. Farther out, maybe 25 miles, he’s catching red and mangrove snapper, plus lots of amberjack.

By the way, Capt. Sam put Hilda and Dick Talbert from Texas onto a 23-pound mahi-mahi and an 18-pound red snapper last week. The Islander reported the fish in length, rather than pounds.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee Jay II out of Parrot Bay Marina in Cortez has found that summer is here “with a vengeance! Very hot and humid; be extra careful out on the water what with the heat, and be sure to take plenty of water and sunscreen. Keep an eye to the sky for thunderboomers with a lot of lightning and sudden wind.” He said he’s catching a number of grouper, mangrove snapper, big flounder, Spanish mackerel and triggerfish on a small reef due west of Longboat Pass in about 35 feet of water. He’s seeing but not targeting lots of tarpon.North Sarasota Bay is producing spotted sea trout to 22 inches, bluefish, more Spanish mackerel, redfish to 23 inches, and a couple of good-sized gag grouper and mangrove snapper caught on an outgoing tide over deep seagrass beds. “We saw some smallish cobia cruise by, but they were apparently intent on something other than eating.” Capt. Zach warns that bait will soon be iffy. “Bait shrimp will be going to eyeballs and whiskers for the summer,” he said. “The large spring pilchards will be harder to find, but there is plenty of fry pilchards available along with small pinfish and grunts. Scaling down to a 1/4-inch mesh net is the ticket for the smaller summer bait. The fry bait is of a fairly decent size. These diminutive baits are candy for several species, especially mangrove snapper and mackerel. If you’re looking for the makings for a quality fish fry over the next few months, the mangrove snapper are the way to go.”

Capt. Logan Bystrom said that tarpon “are still hitting really well. I have been getting plenty of hook-ups off the beaches. The tides are picking up and should be perfect throughout the week in the passes. The pass crabs have been plentiful, so keep a look out for them while fishing the passes.” He’s also finding catch-and-release snook on the beaches, with dawn and dusk being the best time to hit — and, of course, release — linesiders.

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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