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Date of Issue: September 16, 2009

Good fishing continues in bays, off beaches, offshore

Fishing continues to be great to fantastic both nearshore and in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Great catch!
JoAnn and Anthony Manali, fishing aboard Billy the Kid, caught and released this 300-pound blue marlin in the Galati Yacht Sales 2009 Labor Day Tournament. JoAnn also caught a 200-pound yellowfin tuna. She fought the tuna for 90 minutes before it broke off right at the boat. The Manalis took second place in the tourney. Islander Photo: Courtesy JoAnn Manali

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Christopher Galati, age 13, shows off the 254-pound mako shark he landed while fishing with Team Galati in the Galati Yacht Sales Labor Day Fishing Tournament. Pictured with Galati is Wayne Harris, Team Galati teammate, and, far right, proud dad, Chris Galati.
Islander Photo: Rebecca Barnett

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Gullett mullet winners and friends
A slew of tournament winners and friends celebrate the event in honor of Ben Gullett.
Islander Photos: Paul Roat

Backwater anglers are having to deal with snook pretty much everywhere: just off the beaches, in the passes and in canals in the bays.

Redfish are probably in the midst of their late-summer schooling pattern as you read this. Shoot for big tides for the best action.

Trout also are coming on strong in the backwaters.

Mangrove snapper are in both bays and around nearshore reefs, mixed in with flounder.

Deeper Gulf waters continue to be a popular location for grouper and snapper, plus a few kingfish.

The “news of the weird” is twofold. The Goliath grouper that has been migrating between the Anna Maria City Pier and the Rod & Reel Pier has apparently found a home under the dock of the city pier. At 200-plus pounds, he, or she, can probably stay wherever he/she wants to be.

There are also tarpon being caught in the passes. The silver king catch isn’t as huge as the spring run, but the catch is still on going.

Let’s hope all the weekend rain doesn’t put a damper on the good fishing we’ve had for the past few months.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina in Cortez said an inshore trip last week produced at least one of each target species, “but the overall action was disappointing. We nailed a well full of beautiful bait with little effort at sunrise. We proceeded to fish the last of a huge outgoing tide. Our efforts were concentrated on snook and redfish and we nailed a few. Thankfully, a spate of activity with mangrove snapper provided some filets for the party along with one keeper redfish in the cooler. I believe if we had not been so intent on snook and redfish we could have done quite well with sea trout on the open seagrass beds, and a short trip out to a nearshore reef might have produced more snapper, grouper, mackerel, shark, and cobia as a trip earlier in the week had.” Capt. Zach predicts mid-September will produce changes in fishing patterns and catches caused in part by a drop in water temperatures. “Between now and the first hard cold front,” he said, “there will be plentiful bait, cooler days, hopefully benign weather and a wide range of species to battle. The snook and reds that are kind of scattered right now will bunch up, kingfish, Spanish mackerel, cobia and pompano will invade local waters making for some top-notch action.” All something to look forward to.

Danny Stasny at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said the snook action is pretty much everywhere. Some linesiders are still off the beaches, many have moved to the passes and more still are starting to hide in canals in the bays. Redfish action is good around docks or piers in the bays, and he’s seeing some huge schools of spotties in southern Tampa Bay — 300-plus in one school alone. They’re running big, too, from 33 to 41 inches. Our area appears to have evolved a resident tarpon population, or at least one that is fishable, as Danny said he’s seeing silver kings in the passes. “They’re not schooling, but they’re exploding on different bait,” he said. Nearshore reefs in the Gulf are still producing mangrove snapper and “doormat-size” flounder. Gag and red grouper are still a good catch farther out in the Gulf, plus a few early migrating kingfish.

At the Rod & Reel Pier in Anna Maria, Bob Kilb reports snapper, redfish and snook were the best action anglers produced last week.

Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters said big tides really helped fishing. He put his charters onto lots of speckled trout, but he’s finding redfish to be scattered. Expect snook to keep migrating from beaches to passes to around the mangroves in the bay, with high tides a high time to go after linesiders. He’s also finding lots of bait near Key Royale waters, around the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and off the beaches on easterly winds.

At the Anna Maria City Pier, Jesus Rosario said he’s seeing and catching tarpon. Fishers are reeling 20-plus snook on any given day, running 15 to 33 inches in size. There are also big mackerel being caught, flounder to 19 inches, and his new “resident,” a Goliath grouper, is still hunkered down under the dock. Mangrove snapper are also still a good bet, but cobia haven’t made an appearance — yet. Give them a few more days, Jesus suggested. 

Gulletts produce tourney, fish, fixings, fun

Weather was less than wonderful last weekend for the Ben Gullett Mullet Invitational Tournament, but in true Cortez style, the fishers weathered the rain and reaped the benefits of their efforts.

Unlike some tournaments, the Gullett event pays out 100 percent of the proceeds from entry fees and cooks up the results for a feast of mullet at the awards event, which is open to the public.

Of the nine entries this year, a low field due possibly to the weather and the economy, according to organizer Rick Gullett, Rod Griffon and Dwight Andrews took top honors of $900 and Brian Stovall and Sheldon Albritton second place to receive $400.

Joe Gullett and Dillon Hart cast out for the winners in the junior division, receiving a 10-foot Gill ’Em & Grill ’Em handmade cast net donated by Talon Nets.

The winners and friends gathered under cover on the docks at the hosting Star Fish Company and Restaurant in Cortez to celebrate in spite of a mix of light showers and downpours.

The contest honors the late Ben Gullett, Rick’s dad, and his efforts in the past to produce some fine smoked mullet for Cortez. Ben Gullett sold his popular smoked mullet at the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival for many years to benefit the Florida Institute For Saltwater Heritage and, likewise, this event also benefits FISH.

Proceeds from the $5 dinner of smoked or fried mullet and fixings, including hush puppies, grits and sweet or unsweet tea — prepared by the Gullett family and friends — and some proceeds from T-shirt sales and a raffle also went to FISH.

The annual event is sponsored by the Gullett family, Star Fish and The Islander newspaper.

Team Galati took top honors in billfish tourney

The First Annual Labor Day Weekend Billfishing Tournament sponsored by Galati Yacht Sales in Anna Maria was judged to be huge success by the anglers who hit the deep fishing grounds in the Gulf of Mexico.

Weather was good on the tourney, which ran Sept. 5-7.

Team Galati won first place in the billfish division with two blue marlin releases, followed by Billy the Kid with one blue marlin release. Manna Ray reported two sailfish and one swordfish release and Real Screamer released one sailfish.

In the fun fish division, Tight Lines weighed in a 154.2-pound yellow fin tuna, winning them first place in tuna. Reel Screamer took first place in the dolphin category, and Team Galati won for the largest wahoo.

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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