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Date of Issue: September 20, 2007

Snapper 'everywhere' right now, plus late-season tarpon in bay

Fishing pic
Shark attack!
Walter Piepsney of Fort Lauderdale caught this shark and about 10 more up to 50 pounds, while fishing in Tampa Bay with Capt. Mark Howard.

Late summer fishing is producing a huge number of mangrove snapper, both inshore and out in the Gulf of Mexico. The big, tasty fish are being caught on both artificial and live bait.

Offshore fishing is still excellent for grouper, and there are some early kingfish being caught, well before the annual fall “run.”

Backwater action for redfish, snook, trout and flounder is also good.

And then there are the tarpon, which are schooled in the bays at an uncharacteristic time but are turning into a good sight for fishers.

At Annie’s Bait & Tackle on Cortez Road, Chris Smith said that fishing has been good. “There are plenty of mangrove snapper around, plus redfish and snook.” He said that there was what looked like a 150-pound tarpon and another 80-pound silver king in the basin recently near the shop, but neither fish would hit on any bait.”

Aaron Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said there is currently “a hot snapper bite, a few reds and grouper and big red and mangrove snapper” coming from offshore in the Gulf between 15 and 30 miles out. He predicts the kingfish run to start within the next two or three weeks in the Gulf as well. Closer to shore, snook are still being caught along the beaches, but should start to move back into the bays soon. Lures are working best for linesider catches, he said, with small whitebait also serving its purpose of putting a snook on a hook. Backwater fishing for reds is getting better by the day, as the fish are starting to school, especially in the Manatee River and in Palma Sola Bay. Terra Ceia Bay is starting to get thick with snook, with reports coming in of fish up to 15 pounds. Aaron also said that flounder are also a good catch in the deeper waters of the bays, with artificial bait working best to catch the flatties.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said that fishing has been good. “I’ve never seen so many mangrove snapper,” he said, “adding that there are catches of mangrove snapper, snook and an occasional redfish coming to the dock.

Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said that 80-year-old Jim Hall caught a 28-inch-long snook at the pier last week. Tarpon are hot at the pier, with Jesus hooking three, one of which was better than 140 pounds and that jumped three times before it lost the hook, and another silver king coming in at about an estimated 80 pounds. “I’ve now got 100-pound-test line,” Jesus said. Pier fishers are catching lots of mangrove snapper, blue runners and small redfish when not catching the huge gamefish.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he’s finding fishing to be great. “We are catching gag and red grouper, scamp, kingfish, American red snapper, mangrove snapper, sharks and catch-and-release Goliath grouper,” he said. “The best hookup this week goes to Steve Krick from Chicago, when he hooked a 6-foot-long sailfish that hit a threadherring while we were catching grouper. The sailfish jumped six times, then ran out all the line off the reel and broke off while we were pulling up the anchor to catch up with it. It was a wild and crazy trip.” All the action took place in about 110 feet of water in the Gulf offshore of Anna Maria Island.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina said he’s putting his charters onto lots of big Spanish mackerel and mangrove snapper, as well as juvenile gag grouper, bluefish, sharks and cobia. “All of the action came from fishing reefs and wrecks with pilchards, Spanish sardines, pinfish and shrimp,” he said. Fishing in Palma Sola Bay, northern Sarasota Bay and Anna Maria Sound produced some pretty good speckled trout action, with lots of little ones and some within the 22-inch range, as well as ladyfish, bluefish and some jacks. “Redfishing fell off for me last week,” Capt. Zach said. “The areas that I had been doing really well in came up kind of short, but it’s a transition time and it’s just a matter of time before I zero in on some pre-spawn schools of big reds. Snook have been a tough catch some days but lively finger mullet have been the ticket for landing slot-sized snook in the past two weeks. The snook are in transition as well and will stage up in and near the mouths of the local bays, bayous, rivers and creeks for the next couple of months.” He also noticed a big school of tarpon hanging out south of the Cortez Bridge, and has heard that pompano are being caught in the middle grounds in Sarasota Bay.

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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