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Date of Issue: July 09, 2008

Reds, trout best bet in backwaters; grouper still strong offshore

Fishing pic
Ponderous permit
Scott Woodland caught this huge permit near the shore of Anna Maria Island in the Gulf of Mexico using a pass crab as bait. He fought the fish for about 15 minutes, reeling it in on 50-pound threaded line. "It was a fish of a lifetime," Woodland said.

There’s a new fishing rule that all grouper and snapper anglers should be aware of in Florida waters.

All fishers who use lead as a weight must also use circle hooks. There also has to be a de-hooker and venting tool on the vessel.

For local action, backwater catches remain good for redfish and trout catches, plus an occasional flounder.

Offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, fishers report excellent catches of grouper, snapper and amberjack.

Shark action is hot in Tampa Bay near Egmont Key and Tampa Bay is also a good spot for a tarpon hookup, as well as off the beaches.

Capt. Sam Kimball out of Annie’s Bait & Tackle on Cortez Road said grouper and snapper are his big-ticket catches offshore, plus triggerfish, lane snapper and amberjack.

Capt. Mark Johnston of Annie’s said he’s putting his charters onto reds and trout in the backwater. On his near-shore trips into the Gulf, he’s catching mackerel and mangrove snapper just off the beaches.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said offshore fishing for grouper and snapper remains steady, although the weather has been a little rough of late. Most of the best action is off the artificial reefs in the Gulf, with some of the mangrove snapper coming in at 5 pounds. Amberjack are also being caught. For bay fishers, look to hookup redfish and mackerel along the beaches. Shark fishing in Tampa Bay is very hot right now, Bill added, with species being caught including black tip, bulls and black nose.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said anglers at the pier report good catches of mackerel and redfish, plus lots of mangrove snapper. The snapper are small, but occasionally there will be a keeper in the batch, he said.

Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier said fishers there are also catching lots of mackerel and snapper, plus bonnethead shark.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said there are redfish coming out of the mouth of the Manatee River by Emerson Point.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said tarpon fishing is still good and should remain strong through the month of July. Tarpon season here has been very good, he added.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he’s finding fishing to be great offshore Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. “Our parties are catching limit catches of monster red grouper and American red snapper,” he said as well as a few big gag grouper, lots of mangrove, yellowtail, lane and vermillion snapper. “We are also catching lots of amberjack, triggerfish, lots of big sharks and barracuda. Best bite on grouper and amberjack is out about 35 to 45 miles.” Closer in from Egmont Key “is all the Shark and Snapper action you want,” Capt. Larry concluded.

On my boat Magic, we’ve been catching redfish to 27 inches, a few 17-inch trout and some nice-size early season flounder.

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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