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Date of Issue: July 08, 2009

Trout, reds dominate backwaters; offshore action dimmed by rain

Fishing pic
Happy fishers
Don Clegg, left, of Gibsonton, and Jim Mallow of Lakewood Ranch caught some monster red grouper while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire. The trip, which also brought in mangrove snapper and king mackerel, came from 140-foot waters in the Gulf of Mexico. It was their largest grouper ever caught.

Rain — lots of it — held down most of the offshore action for a few days, but those hardy souls who ventured into the Gulf of Mexico between thunderheads reported good catches of grouper and snapper off the artificial and other structures.

Fishing from the piers and in the passes has been good for mackerel, mangrove snapper and a few pompano.

Backwater action is generally terrific for trout, plus redfish. The reds seem to be starting to school, with the best action coming near mangroves. There are also lots of catch-and-release snook along the beaches.

Danny Stasny at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said the trout bite in the bay continues to be great, with Mirrolures working best as an attraction for the fish. Redfish action is also good, with the spotties seeming to like the docks in the bays. Snook action is still great off the beaches, although linesiders still must be released after being caught. The best snook catches come from structures just off the beach, and Danny advises wading to get the best fish. Longboat Pass is the place for tarpon, while the silver kings are also thick near Egmont Key and along the shipping channel in Tampa Bay. He said that rough weather has kept most offshore fishers close to the dock, but the few trips have been yielding lots of grouper and snapper in about 100 feet of water.

Capt. Mark Johnston said fishing has been good despite the rain. He’s catching big trout in Sarasota Bay, plus big redfish in the southern and eastern sections of the estuary. The reds are running in the 20- to 28-inch range, and are starting to school. He’s also putting his charters onto mangrove snapper in the bays on the higher tides.

Capt. Sam Kimball said he’s catching his limit of grouper and snapper offshore, plus lots of sharks and bonita.

At the Rod & Reel Pier in Anna Maria, Frank Whitney reports lots of mackerel, mangrove snapper and a few big pompano have been caught. Ladyfish are also a good bet there, and sharks are everywhere.

At the Anna Maria City Pier, reports were of lots of mackerel and mangrove snapper.

Capt. Logan Bystrom said he’s putting his charters onto good catches of catch-and-release snook, redfish and tarpon, using shiners for bait. “Now that the weather is calming down, look for snook along the beaches in the surf in the mornings,” he said. Redfish have been hanging out along the deeper mangrove islands,” he added, and “there are still plenty of tarpon off the beaches.”

Capt. Terry Frankford of Reelin & Chillin Charters said he’s putting his clients onto redfish, trout, mangrove snapper and a few pompano. “It has been hot,” he said, “but with the sea breeze it's been bearable.” He took Alan Riggs from Tennessee out last week, targeting redfish. “First cast, Alan picked up a slot-sized red using a large live shrimp for bait,” Capt. Terry said. “Soon after, he was battling a second redfish from the same mangrove shoreline. Things slowed, so after a few minutes of being robbed by pinfish we moved to the next mangrove area, and picked up another red. We must have hit this area just at the end of the feed because we couldn't buy a bite after the third redfish. We headed to a deepwater seagrass flat in north Sarasota Bay, finding plenty of trout.” Alan ended his day with a 29-inch redfish using only 10-pound test line. Tom Longwell with his three sons and grandson also picked up three redfish, two nice trout around 18 inches, and a pompano. Steve Dabek and son Josh had a great day of action with Josh catching 20 fish between 6 and 8 pounds using 8-pound test line.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina in Cortez said last week’s stormy weather wreaked havoc on his trips until week’s end, when he took the Janzen family from Minnesota out to a mixed bag of redfish to 24 inches, trout to 23 inches, mangrove snapper up to 17 inches, ladyfish, grouper and flounder. “The bulk of the action was in north Sarasota Bay,” Capt. Zach said, “fishing both the mangrove shorelines for the redfish, the open grass flats in 6 feet of water for trout, and a sunken boat in 8 feet of water for grouper and snapper.” Zach noted that the good news from the storms were lowered water temperature, down to around 78-80 degrees, and salinity levels dropped in most backwater areas, which redfish really like. The freshwater runoff also pushed a lot of trout out of canals and creeks to the open bay water where, he says, the salinity is higher.

Capt. Mark Howard on SumoTime Charters spent a while down in the Florida Keys last month, but is back home and has found that fishing around Anna Maria has been good with the weather again cooperating. He’s catching catch-and-release snook, trout and redfish on moving water. Shark are thick in the bay. He suggests fishing the edges of the Intracoastal Waterway for the best trout action. He also said that tarpon schools are starting to thin, but silver kings are still out there. He’s also putting his charters onto lots of mangrove snapper near pretty much any structure in the bays.

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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