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Date of Issue: July 01, 2009

Fish galore out there both in bays, Gulf

Fishing pic
Fishing pic
Double the pleasure
Andrew Honaker, left, helps his cousin, Alexander Nelson, board his shark catch, a 3-foot-long bonnethead, caught and released off Bean Point. Alexander then hooked up again, and on reeling in the catch, they realized it was the same shark and they were able to remove both hooks. The inset photo shows the hook and line and the second hook.

Jeez, what does it take to make fishing more great?

There’s trout and redfish galore in the bays.

Mackerel and catch-and-release snook are in the passes. Tarpon are still thick off the beaches and around Tampa Bay, as well as mangrove snapper both near shore and out in the Gulf of Mexico. There’s also some amberjack lurking around the artificial reefs in the Gulf.

Two things: Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council at its June meeting agreed to hold off on taking final action on its proposed Reef Fish Amendment 31, saying it needs more time to review the data before making a decision. The decision regards longline grouper fishing. A ban remains in effect until the board action.

And the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries announced that the commercial deep-water grouper fishery will close at 12:01 a.m. June 27. NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service “has determined the 2009 commercial quota of 1,020,000 pounds of deepwater grouper will be reached by this date. During the closure period, no person aboard a vessel for which a commercial permit for reef fish has been issued may fish for or retain misty grouper, snowy grouper, yellowedge grouper, Warsaw or speckled hind grouper in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

“The fishery will remain closed until 12:01 a.m., Jan. 1, 2010. During the closure, vessels with commercial quantities of reef fish on board are prohibited from retaining a recreational bag limit.

Better be careful with your grouper catches.

And don’t forget the 2009 Desoto Fishing Tournament July 10-12. Captains meeting is 6:30 p.m. July 10 at Bradenton Yacht Club, 4307 Snead Island Road, Palmetto. Information is available at desotohg.com.

Danny Stasny at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said it’s “tarpon, tarpon and tarpon” off the beaches and in the bays. Silver king fishers are catching fish all along Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key, near Passage and Egmont keys, as well as near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay. Pass crabs seem to be working best for bait, as well as redfin herring and mullet. The inshore bite for trout is good, with most fishers saying it’s the best catch in years as far as size is concerned. Almost all the fish are within or better than the slot limit. There are also lots of redfish being caught, mostly in northern Sarasota Bay. Look for mackerel in the passes, plus bonito, especially in the shipping channels in Tampa Bay. Offshore action includes lots of mangrove snapper, with some chumming providing for the best hookups.

At the Rod & Reel Pier in Anna Maria, Frank Whitney said that mackerel are here in large numbers. Fishers are also catching mangrove snapper, and there are “huge Goliath grouper under the dock,” which keep getting caught and released, of course. Rays are everywhere: “They’re acting like New York cab drivers,” he said with a laugh, “and one ray walked a guy down to Bean Point before he got it ashore.” There are also some tarpon hookups from the dock.

At the Anna Maria City Pier,Rocky Corby reports good catches of mackerel and cobia.

Capt. Logan Bystrom says tarpon are still active on the beaches and in the passes. “We’ve had several hookups in spite of the windy weather,” he said, adding that tarpon fishers should “keep dippin’ those crabs for your bait in the passes and fish for the tarpon on those strong outgoing tides.”

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina in Cortez said high winds early last week kept Gulf fish within the bays. “At weeks end, scorching hot weather broke, tides got back to normal, and fishing improved,” he said. Mangrove snapper was the mainstay on Monday and Tuesday last week, along with grouper, trout and ladyfish. “After the windy weather pattern broke, we started to pick up some snook, trout and a few redfish inshore around North Sarasota Bay, Palma Sola Bay and Anna Maria Sound,” Capt. Zach said. “There have been numerous sharks in and around the mouth of Tampa Bay. As we progress into the dog days of summer, large whitebait will become increasingly hard to find, but finger mullet can often be found milling around lighted docks just before dawn when they can easily be netted. Chubs, or killifish, are another hardy bait that can be found in extremely shallow backwater areas.” And don’t forget pinfish.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said his he’s been putting his charters onto limit catches of red grouper, American red snapper, gag grouper, mangrove snapper, scamp, amberjack, triggerfish, plus lots of sharks and smoker kingfish. “Best grouper action is out past 100 feet, and the deeper you fish the larger they are,” he said. “For the guys that want monster fish, go deep. There are also some big gag grouper in close and in the Tampa shipping channel. We are catching lots of smoker kings from close in to out to 35 miles using a variety of live bait. On the calmer days, there are a lot of tarpon along the beach, Egmont Key and around the Sunshine Skyway Bridge area.”

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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