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Date of Issue: July 19, 2007

Fishing Reds thick in backwaters, while grouper good offshore

Fishing pic
All smiles
Ryan Nesbitt, 7, of Cedar Park, Texas, shows off a Spanish mackerel he caught at the Anna Maria City Pier. Ryan was in town visiting grandparents Jack and Judie Egan of Anna Maria City.

Backwater fishing for redfish, catch-and-release snook and lots of mangrove snapper highlight the fishing report this week.

Offshore action includes lots of grouper and snapper catches, plus some wahoo, dolphin and even a few sailfish for those willing to go farther away from shore.

Capt. Thom Smith said he’s catching some redfish and catch-and-release snook. He’s finding whitebait hard to come by right now, but is doing very well with artificial baits. He’s also still doing his rod and reel repair, now out of his home, and can be reached at 941-737-5672 if you need some gear repaired.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said that offshore fishing “could not be any better for grouper.” He’s hearing great reports of red and gag grouper coming into the coolers, with some fish up to 30 pounds. Snapper — lane, yellowtail and mangrove — are also a good bet offshore. For those willing to fish farther offshore, wahoo, dolphin and even some sailfish are being caught. For inshore fishers, look for good catches of redfish and mangrove snapper, plus catch-and-release snook. The big reds are running up to 32 inches, but trout action is still a bit slow, Bill added.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said anglers there are catching lots of mackerel and snapper, plus sand perch, a few whiting, redfish and lots of yellowtail jacks.

Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said snapper, mackerel, jacks and a few catch-and-release snook, plus some sheepshead, are the best catches of the week.

At Annie’s Bait & Tackle, in Cortez, Capt. Sam Kimball said he’s catching red grouper up to 18 pounds, mangrove snapper to 6 pounds, yellowtail snapper to 4 pounds, plus red snapper to 8 pounds. Capt. Mark Johnson, also out of Annie’s, said he’s catching snapper, redfish, some small catch-and-release Goliath grouper and a couple of tarpon on his backwater charters.  

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said snapper up to 15 inches in length are being caught off the dock. He’s hearing reports of lots of catch-and-release snook, plus some really big jacks up to 10 pounds being boated. Tarpon action in front of Terra Ceia Bay is a viable fish for anglers, snapper are thick in the Tampa Bay ship channels, but redfish action in Terra Ceia Bay has slowed a bit.

At Tropic Isles Marina, reports include some redfish but massive infusions of mangrove snapper around almost every structure in the backwaters. There are also spotty catches of spotted trout.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina said, “The McNulty crew from here and New Jersey enjoyed a good old-fashioned redfish blitz Friday morning in the pouring rain. The reds were numerous and all fell in the 20-24 inch range. The tide was incoming and the reds were in relatively deep water for this time of the year.” Capt. Zach said that after the red catch they went off to find other species, “but all we came up with was more redfish in a number of different spots, but mostly up against mangrove shorelines with abundant oyster structure. The reds took a variety of offerings including shrimp, small pinfish, whitebait and Spanish sardines. We attempted to bag a mess of mangrove snapper with little luck at the same place I had crushed them with another party earlier in the week.” He added that the McNultys “did boat and release a couple of dandy Goliath grouper, and his other trips last week included good catches of catch-and-release snook, trout, jacks, ladyfish, mackerel and sharks.”

On my boat Magic, we caught redfish to 27 inches, snapper to 14 inches, some small sharks and lots of small catch-and-release snook.

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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