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Date of Issue: June 03, 2009

Tarpon time is definitely here

Fishing pic
Reel good tarpon
Tommy Price, 15, of Holmes Beach, caught this 125-pound tarpon off Egmont Key last week with dad Andy. The light-tackle hookup resulted in a fight for about 55 minutes to get the silver king to the boat for a picture before it was released.

Tarpon are off the beaches, roaming the shallows near Egmont Key and swarming off Whitney Beach on north Longboat Key.

Best catch to date is Tommy Price with his 125-pound silver king, but there must be some bigger ones out there. Anybody got a good tarpon picture? Send it in, please.

Backwater action is superb for trout and redfish, plus some catch-and-release snook. Linesiders are mostly thick off the beaches, though.

Offshore, look for snapper and grouper, with snapper working best both offshore and in the nearshore areas.

Frank Whitney at the Rod & Reel Pier said there was a lot happening at the pier. “Snook are terrorizing the whitebait around the pier. Dolphin are eating blue runners within 15 feet of the pilings and providing quite a show,” he said. Fishers are catching black drum, mangrove snapper and too many mackerel to count. Fishing is best in the mornings up to about 10 a.m., although the mangroves seem to hit at any time.

Rocky at the Anna Maria City Pier said mackerel, most over the legal-size limit in the 15-inch range, are everywhere, plus snapper and catch-and-release snook. They even saw a cobia brought to the dock last week. Tarpon are around, although there haven’t been any hookups on the pier yet, he said, but with all the bait working around the pier, a silver king catch is inevitable any day.

Capt. Mark Johnston out of Annie’s Bait & Tackle on Cortez Road said he was rushed catching grouper and mangrove snapper in the passes to give an extended fishing report, but said that he was putting his charters on redfish in the bays and “tarpon are slapping around everywhere. Gotta go, fish on!”

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said things on the water are as good this week as last. Look for lots of good catch-and-release snook, mostly near the beaches, with whitebait creating the best results pretty much anywhere along the Island. Backwater action is still good for trout, with both artificials and live bait producing good catches. Redfish are near the mangroves, with outgoing tides best, and Bill said to start fishing off oyster beds and away from the trees for good results. Offshore, snapper and grouper fishing is fantastic, but most of the best action is at least 20 miles out in the Gulf. Tarpon also are everywhere, but seem congregated near Longboat Pass and Whitney Beach.

Capt. Mark Howard on SumoTime Charters said he’s finding the summer fishing pattern to be in full swing. “The tarpon have moved into the bay and on the beaches,” he said. “Snook are in the passes. The speckled trout bite is still going strong, with some fish to 25 inches long being landed.” And Capt. Mark offered a suggestion for seagrass snorkelers: “Sharks are all over the deep grass and chewing hard.”

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina in Cortez said he did well early last week, but “the bloom was off the rose at weeks end due to a lackluster tidal flow.” He went out in the Gulf one calm day and did well with mangrove snapper, numerous grouper, and some “ballbat” spanish mackerel. “A couple of bonito crashed the party as well, and a lone straggler king mackerel was hooked and lost on too light tackle.” He said he caught some decent-size trout to 23 inches in length in north Sarasota Bay, plus a few redfish. Later in the week he put his charter on a backwater slam of snook, trout and redfish, but he found the action sporadic. He noted that water temperatures have been moderated by the onset of the rainy season, but water quality is still good despite some heavy stormwater runoff.

Capt. Logan Bystrom said he’s been doing very well with tarpon. “The winds last week made fishing off the beaches a little more difficult,” he said, “but the pass fishing has been really good with plenty of hookups using crabs on the strong outgoing tides.” He said his backwater trips have been producing a lot of redfish, snook and trout. “Keep an eye out for cobia while fishing for tarpon off the beaches,” he added.

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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