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Date of Issue: March 30, 2005

Fishing
Great gags
Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish charters holds up a couple gag grouper caught on his boat earlier this month.
Click on image to enlarge
Dolphin move closer to shore; reds, snook good in bays

Fishing made a big improvement in the past week, with whitebait showing up in some numbers pretty much everywhere.

Backwater action for catch-and-release snook and redfish remains good, and there are several reports of big mackerel coming from the Intracoastal Waterways, plus lots of bluefish.

Offshore anglers are catching lots of dolphin - the fish, not the mammal - less than 35 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico, plus snapper fishing remains good.

Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he's putting his charters onto lots of bluefish by Buttonwood Harbor in Sarasota Bay, plus a few redfish, catch-and-release snook to 27 inches and a few keeper-size trout, all on a combination of either artificial or live bait.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said the best bets so far seem to be mackerel and bluefish. Inshore, there are good reports of schooling redfish, and it would appear that snook season starting Sept. 1 will be a good one. Offshore action for snapper remains steady, Bill said, and there are lots of dolphin reported only about 30 miles out in the Gulf.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said redfish and catch-and-release snook are finally starting to bite better, as well as lots of mackerel, snapper and a few pompano.

Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said anglers there are reeling in a good mixed bag of flounder, mackerel, snapper, small sharks, yellowtail jacks and a few redfish.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said there are lots of redfish being caught right now by Tidy Island, trout off the Key Royale flats, and tons of mackerel by the Sunshine Skyway Bridge system.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said his clients are catching lots of big catch-and-release snook, some up to 36 inches long. He's also getting into lots of mackerel and snapper just 6 miles out in the Gulf, plus lots of redfish - "excellent," was how he put the redfish action.

Teresa Baranowski of Perico Island Bait and Tackle said there are good reports of trout off the seagrass flats, mackerel along the Intracoastal and good catches of redfish off the southeast corner of the Anna Maria Island Bridge.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said there are plenty of mackerel and a few cobia offshore. Inshore, reds and trout were his best bets.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he is catching dolphin to 12 pounds, about 38 inches long, and lots of school dolphin while trolling. He's also been catching gag grouper to 15 pounds, red grouper to 12 pounds, mangrove snapper to 5 pounds, black tip sharks to 4 feet in length, and barracuda to 5 feet. Capt Larry says Hurricane Charley has improved fishing in our area by pushing the fish from down south to our area, especially large schools of dolphin. He is using live pinfish and Spanish sardines for grouper and snapper; trolling artificial C&H lures and jigs for dolphin, with all the action taking place less than 35 miles out in the Gulf.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's said he's catching redfish to 32 inches in Palma Sola Bay, trout to 22 inches in about 5 feet of water, mangrove snapper to 18 inches, flounder on incoming tides, plus bluefish and ladyfish. Tarpon and cobia are around, but you've got to work for them, he added.

On my boat Magic, we caught lots of redfish to 31 inches, trout to 24 inches, a few flounder and mangrove snapper to 16 inches.

Good luck and good fishing.

Capt. Mike Heistand is a 20-year fishing guide. Call him at 779-9607 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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