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Date of Issue: June 09, 2005

Fishing
Holy gag grouper!
Pastor Joseph Schroeter with Church On The Rock, Palmetto, caught this nice-sized gag grouper while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters.
Click on image to enlarge
Here's looking at you
Bob Michal, visiting from Cornishy, N.H., caught this 3 1/2-foot-long shark while fishing off the north end of Anna Maria Island.
Click on image to enlarge

Tarpon season in full bloom off Island beaches

Tarpon action has definitely picked up in the past few days, after last week's wacky weather and the fickle nature of the silver kings. The fish are thick in Tampa Bay, off Egmont Key and along all the beaches right now.

 Backwater action for trout is excellent now. Spanish mackerel are also hanging out near the pier and passes off Anna Maria Island, while offshore fishing for snapper and grouper, both reds and gags, is good about 30 miles out.

 There are also some good reports of big permit caught about 7 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico.

 Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he has returned to the airwaves on WWPR-1490 in a different time slot. "On the Water with Capt. Thom" is now an hour format at 6 p.m. Thursdays. Please, listen in!

 Capt. Wayne Jenthner of Wolfmouth Charters of Longboat Key said he's catching lots of grouper, kingfish, snapper, blackfin tuna and amberjack on his offshore trips. Backwater fishing is excellent for trout, redfish, catch-and-release snook and large tarpon, he added.

 Paul Templin at Island Discount Tackle said tarpon are really starting to heat up after a very slow time last week. "We were bouncing bait off their heads last week with no hookups," he said, "but it's really hot right now." He said trout are thick and hungry near Tidy Island and by Long Bar Point in Sarasota Bay. Redfish reports are slim, but Paul said they should be massing near the mangroves on outgoing tides. Catch-and-release snook are moving out to the beaches, but a good bet for linesiders near any of the bridges at night on outgoing tides. Spanish mackerel are also a good bet by the piers or near Egmont Key, he said, and red and gag grouper are a good catch for offshore fishers willing to go out 30 miles or so. Permit are also being caught about 7 miles out in the Gulf, he added.

 Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said "they're catching lots of different fish, but not many of them." The action there includes some big reds, a few catch-and-release snook, snapper, pompano, mackerel, black drum and whiting in the shallows.

 Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier said mackerel "have really cut loose this week" for pier fishers, with lots and lots of big catches coming onto the deck. Tarpon have been rolling by every day, but they haven't been all that hungry as yet. One lucky angler did catch a 60-pound cobia from the dock last week, though, Dave added.

 Ken Haagenson at Perico Island Bait and Tackle said fishing has generally been good, with big trout and redfish coming off the seagrass flats in the bays, catch-and-release snook and whiting filling in the surf zone along the beaches and lots of good reports of good-size tarpon from Tampa Bay or along the beaches.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said "the gag grouper bite is very good in between rains. We have been putting our clients on gag grouper up to 12 pounds, red grouper, scamp, mangrove snapper, lots of black tip sharks up to 5-foot in length, as well as some straggler kingfish and mackerel, plus some hookups of dolphin from about 100 feet of water offshoren water near the floating seagrass mats."

 Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's said all the rain has somewhat stymied his fishing action and pretty much curtailed any offshore action, but his backwater charters "have been just OK considering the new moon tides should be producing some of the best inshore action of the year. Sporadic red tide blooms continue to make bait gathering a challenge, the bait is readily available but a trick to keep alive in the well." Despite the roadblocks, he's doing a lot of catch-and-release snook fishing, reds to 25 inches, plus flounder and trout to 24 inches. Capt. Zach said he and Ann and Curt Miller, along with Ann's brother Bob Young, fished in the Cortez Yacht Club's fishing tournament Saturday, taking second place with a banner catch of spotted sea trout.

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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