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Date of Issue: March 30, 2005

Fishing

First shark
Joshua Mercer of Tampa caught his first-ever shark while fishing with Capt. Mike Heistand last week. The 40-pound blacknose shark was caught on light spinning tackle. The day brought a total of four sharks to the boat.
Click on image to enlarge

Lots of mackerel, redfish, catch-and-release snook out there

Fishing has greatly improved in the past week and, once the rains and high winds abate, action should continue to be good.

Inshore catch-and-release snook fishing is great, and there are some reports of more than 20 redfish being caught per trip. There are also some big trout being caught.

Offshore action continues to be great for grouper and snapper, and mackerel are almost everywhere. There are also good reports of shark fishing and some amberjack from the Gulf of Mexico.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said both inshore and offshore fishing is above average right now. In the Gulf, look for mackerel, grouper, snapper, bonita and even a kingfish or two. Inshore action for redfish is getting better by the day now that the water has cooled a bit, and there are plenty of sharks being caught by Marker 70.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said fishers there are catching big mackerel, some small catch-and-release snook, redfish, snapper, some big yellowtail jacks and small sharks to 3 feet in length.

Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said anglers there have been reeling in mangrove snapper, catch-and-release snook at night, a few mackerel in the morning, some flounder and small blacknose sharks.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said there are lots of good reports of mackerel catches outside of Terra Ceia Bay, and he's even heard of a couple of tarpon hookups. Backwater fishing for redfish is fair, with most fish in the 18- to 22-pound range.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he's catching mackerel and snapper offshore, and redfish and catch-and-release snook in the bays, with some linesiders being "really big."

Teresa Baranowski at the Perico Island Bait and Tackle said there are "a ton" of mackerel in Tampa Bay. Mangrove snapper are thick along the Intracoastal Waterway by Marker 33, but trout fishing remains average. There were are also a few redfish caught on the seagrass beds just south of the Anna Maria Bridge, she added.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said he's finding plenty of mackerel and snapper along the coastline, while inshore action features catch-and-release snook, redfish and trout.

Capt. Matt Denham out of Catchers said he's finding good-sized grouper to 25 pounds, amberjack to 30 pounds, snapper to 5 pounds, all in the Gulf. Fishing is excellent offshore, he added.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he has been catching gag grouper, red grouper, scamps, mangrove and yellowtail snappers, along with sharks, barracudas up to 5 feet and bonita. He's been using live bait such as pinfish, as well as frozen baits such as thread herring and sardines, with the best action coming in depths of 85-120 feet in the Gulf.

Capt. Ray Markham of Flat Back II said he's been reeling in a slew of catch-and-release snook from Terra Ceia Bay. He took Henry Zimmerman and Neil Froman, both of Sarasota, out on a charter last week and caught and released about a dozen linesiders of 25 inches, a couple dozen trout to 17 inches and one redfish.

Capt. Sam Kimball on Legend charters out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said his charters are catching bonita to 10 pounds, banded rudderfish, a few keeper-size grouper, triggerfish and snapper to 4 pounds.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's said he's putting his charters onto Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper, and redfish in the bays are starting to come on strong. He's also catching lots of catch-and-release snook and big trout.

On my boat Magic, we caught more than 20 redfish on every trip out last week, with most in the 18- to 27-inch range. We ran one shark trip last week and caught four sharks to 5 feet in length, mostly blacktip and blacknose species.

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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