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Date of Issue: July 15, 2005

Fishing
All smiles - rightfully
Christopher Carren, 14, of Damascus, Md., caught this 30-pound kingfish while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire on Show Me The Fish Charters.
Click on image to enlarge

Dennis dumps weekend fishing, but things should pick up

Fishing took another hit last week with the glancing blow of Hurricane Dennis, which not only kept anglers at the dock but also kept the fish hunkered down in the deep waters away from the surf and wave action.

Fishing had been improving up until the storm's arrival, and all indications are that things will indeed pick up later this week as the surf settles and things get back to normal.

For backwater anglers, mangrove snapper, redfish and trout are a good bet and, for those going offshore, grouper should still be a good bet.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's said that he's of the mind that "Mother Nature seems to have an ax to grind with us in these parts. As I write this report, Hurricane Dennis is having his way with us along the west coast and the only positive thing is it is not a direct hit." He was able to get out a couple of times last week and caught mostly mangrove snapper in the 10- to 16-inch range from inshore ledges, wrecks and shell bars. He's also reeling in catch-and-release snook to 30 inches, plus scattered reds, trout and flounder. He also offered a teaser: "On Saturday morning as the tropical weather system was bearing down on us I witnessed at least a couple of hundred snook massed at the mouth of a Cortez canal feeding like a bunch of crazed jacks on a strong falling tide early in the morning. They were going ape over a thick school of glass minnows. I was completely amazed at the number of fish and the sizes of the linesiders ranging from 12 inches to 30-plus inches." Of course, snook are out of season right now.

Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he's putting his charters onto trout and redfish, with artificial baits working the best - DOA, Mister Twister, and Exudes, with tipping with a bit of shrimp really turning the fish on.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said mackerel had turned on just before Hurricane Dennis came calling, as well as trout off Key Royale on the seagrass flats. Things should pick up as the waters settle later this week, he added.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said mackerel was a good bet before Dennis called, as well as a few redfish and lots of catch-and-release snook at night.

Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier said anglers there are catching lots of black drum, snook and mackerel. His advice is that it will take a few days for the waters to calm before fishing gets back to normal, but by week's end things should be back to the usual summer fishing schedule.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said some brave anglers ventured out on the dock Sunday during Dennis and caught a redfish and a catch-and-release snook. At the cut, there was good action on sharks, and Tampa Bay is producing lots of snapper near the Sunshine Skyway shipping channel.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said fishing had picked up - naturally - just before the storm blew through, with lots of catch-and-release snook, redfish and trout.

At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, the best action is mangrove snapper from the Anna Maria Island Bridge. Other reports include redfish, catch-and-release snook and trout before the storm arrived, and mackerel were a good bet off the Island's piers.

At Skyway Bait & Tackle, reports included lots of mangrove snapper off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge piers, but redfish were the real turn-on in Miguel Bay with lots of limit-catches coming in.

On my boat Magic, we found that fishing had just started to improve before Dennis came through, but the water temperatures should drop after the storm and fishing should get much, much better.

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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