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Date of Issue: May 14, 2008

Snook season winding down in next few days

Fishing pic
Capt. Mark Howard shows off the 40-pound amberjack he recently caught on a blue runner while fishing on a busman's holiday aboard Capt. Kurt Janisch's boat Fights On.
Fishing pic
Cindy McClure, sister of Sumotime Capt. Mark Howard, holds up the 40-inch snook she caught on a Zara Spook topwater plug while fishing around Jensen Beach, Fla., with Capt. Greg Snyder on "Riverhawk Charters." McClure won the charter at a "Ladies, Let's Go Fishing" seminar.
Fishing pic
Seeing spots
Chuck Shuler of Michigan boated this 27-inch spotted sea trout in Sarasota Bay while fishing with Cortez charter Capt. Zach Zacherias.

Join me next week for a good cause and some fun at the 22nd annual Kids Fishing Tournament on the Green Bridge Pier in Palmetto Saturday, May 10. It’s sponsored by the Manatee/Sarasota Fish & Game Association and the Palmetto and Bradenton Kiwanis clubs, as well as the city of Palmetto.

All children 7 to 14 are eligible to fish. Entry is free. Bait, hooks and sinkers are provided. No tackle boxes are allowed on the pier, and all kids must be accompanied by an adult. Prizes will be awarded for the first three places in each age group, along with lots of raffle prizes. Palmetto Kiwanis will be cooking hot dogs for lunch.

Registration is from 7 to 8 a.m. For more information, call 941-794-2806.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see some big flounder come out of the tourney, since the flatties seem to be everywhere.

Other action in the bays includes redfish and trout. And snook action was reported to be hot and heavy until the season’s closure May 1.

Offshore fishing is great for grouper and snapper, with mackerel also hitting near the piers and passes.

Capt. Mark Howard on Sumotime Fishing Charters said fishing around Anna Maria Island has been fair. “With the slow tides, it takes a lot of patience to get the fish to bite,” he said, adding that he’s getting lots of very big trout, plus sharks, including a 5-foot-long hammerhead and numerous lemon and blacktips.

Capt. Sam Kimball of Annie’s Bait and Tackle in Cortez said grouper fishing has been steady in the Gulf in about 80 feet of water, and snapper fishing has been excellent off the offshore ledges.

Capt. Mark Johnson of Annie’s said he’s putting his charters onto redfish and big trout.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said offshore grouper catches are ranging up to the “excellent” range. Kingfish are also a good bet in the Gulf. Backwater anglers are catching redfish and trout. The sheepshead catch is pretty much finished for this season, Bill said, but mackerel are starting to show off the bridges and near the piers.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said anglers there are catching mackerel, bluefish, sheepshead and, before the season closed May 1, some snook at night.

Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier said mackerel action has been good for fishers, plus yellowtail jacks, mangrove snapper and flounder.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said there are good reports of trout and redfish coming out of the bays, plus some snapper by the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. He also heard of some black drum in the 10-pound range being caught in the Manatee River.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he’s catching some good-sized redfish.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me the Fish Charters is always upbeat. He reports this week that “Fishing is great, the weather is nice and life is good.” Larry also says fishing is fast and furious offshore of Anna Maria Island. “This time of the year, I ask my parties ‘What do you want to catch?’ Everything is biting!” We’re catching limit catches of big red grouper and good catches of gag grouper and scamp, lots of amberjacks, permit up to 30 pounds, black tip sharks up to 6 feet, 5-foot baracudas, goliath grouper and mangrove snapper. There are also some kingfish and all the Spanish mackerel you want out in the Egmont Key Channel. The best grouper and snapper catches are out past 100-foot depths. Larry says big live baits are working best, such as the two-pound live blue runners he puts out for the big shots. “People think I’m crazy when I set out a bait that big, until a minute later a big fish eats it!”

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina said boats heading offshore to 80 to 120 feet of water “are having a field day with grouper, snapper, amberjack, kingfish, cobia and permit. The action near the beaches has not been that great, but Spanish mackerel, bluefish, grouper and a stray cobia or two has been the bulk of the action.” He said there are also lots of pompano running the beaches, and suggests using sand fleas, shrimp, or pompano jigs to catch the tasty fish.

“On the inshore scene,” he added, “it has been feast or famine. Some days have been extremely tough to get a sustained bite going. Days when a seabreeze kicks in at midday, coupled with a good tide, has produced some top-notch action with snook to 33 inches, trout to 23 inches and reds to 26 inches. Big jack crevalle and ladyfish have been bending some rods as well.”

On my boat Magic, we’ve been catching redfish to 27 inches, we’ve limited-out on trout to 22 inches on most trips, and were catching snook to 25 inches until the season ended.

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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