Cold water somewhat chills fishing; reds, grouper still good bets
Longboat Key resident Scottie Stoddard caught this 27-inch snook while fishing with Capt Mike Heistand of Holmes Beach.
With water temperatures dropping into the 50s in some spots, fishing has been slow in the past week. Try and find water that is better than 62 degrees and you'll find more fish.
Inshore action continues to be great for sheepshead and redfish.
Offshore fishing features grouper and snapper, with good catches coming from as close as 6 miles from shore in the Gulf of Mexico.
Lee Gause at Perico Harbor Bait & Tackle said wade fishers are doing well with catch-and-release trout, with lots of 16- to 20-inch fish being caught. Sheepshead action is in full swing off the piers and bridges right now, while offshore action for snapper seems to be the best bet.
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he went out last Friday and did well with redfish in Terra Ceia Bay using artificial lures like Mr. Twisters and Exudes, plus he landed a few sheepshead using shrimp as bait.
Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he's found that gag grouper has strengthened closer in, with hookups in about 65 feet of water. He took Bob Bidwell and his party out to gags to 15 pounds, plus limit-catches of mangrove snapper, red grouper, scamp, amberjack and sea bass. With Dale Blanchette, Dee Park, Brian Paulson, Bob and Chris Soderholm, and Brian Soderholm, he caught a nice catch of gag grouper to 15 pounds and sheepshead to 4 pounds on a 4-hour trip using sardines and shrimp.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said offshore grouper and mangrove snapper fishing is excellent right now - on the days you can get out into the Gulf, that is. Shrimp are a good bait to use to catch the snapper, which are being reeled in from 6 to 20 miles out. Inshore action for sheepshead, catch-and-release trout and redfish are also good right now.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said there are lots of sheepshead around the railroad bridge in the Manatee River, trout on the flats in Terra Ceia Bay, and some mangrove snapper along the shipping channels in Tampa Bay, with black drum being caught in the cut.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he's catching some redfish, but mostly he's been doing good with catch-and-release trout, with some up to 20 inches. He's finding that sheepshead fishing has slowed a bit in the past week.
Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said sheepshead and reds are thick around the docks and made up most of his catches last week, with some of the redfish coming in at 27 inches in length.
Capt. Matt Denham on the Rip-Tide out of Catchers said grouper fishing offshore is excellent right now, with some reds and gags going better than 20 pounds. He also caught mangrove and lane snapper last week.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said fishing is odd right now: one day he'll do exceptionally well, then not so good the next day. On his better days he's catching lots of catch-and-release trout, redfish, pompano, snapper and a few snook.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said best bets for pier anglers last week were sheepshead, black drum and a few redfish, with sheepies seeming to hit the hooks best in the mornings.
Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said sheepshead are coming on strong there, plus a few small flounder and small snook at night.
On my boat Magic we have been catching sheepshead to nearly 5 pounds and lots of smaller ones, trout to 18 inches, a few redfish and some pompano to 3 pounds.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.