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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Fishing

Grouper galore
Frank Torch of Sarasota holds up a red and gag grouper, left, while Terry Konk of Byron Center, Mich., holds a couple nice-size mangrove snapper caught while fishing in the Gulf of Mexico off Longboat Key with Capt. Larry McGuire.
Click on image to enlarge

Cold weather winnows fishers, but warmer temps loom

The weekend's cold front may have temporarily put the chill on local fishing action, but look for better fishing as better weather comes through this week.

Sheepshead action continues to be good near piers, docks and pilings - actually, off any structure - and redfishing is also constant in the backwater.

Grouper and snapper are also good offshore on the days that one can get offshore between the wind and high waves.

 Capt. Ray Markham on the Flat Back II said, "It looks like the party is over. Cooler water temperatures are going to get even colder over the next week. Prior to that front, fish were feeding pretty well -snook, trout, redfish and flounder were in the catch column this week for anglers." He took Chuck Bartges of Sarasota and dad Bill out last week and, just north of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, put a nice keeper trout in the box for dinner and, later in the day, caught and released some redfish from canals.

Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he caught quite a lot of flounder, a few small keeper-size redfish and "tons" of ladyfish.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said cold weather slowed fishing a bit, but with forecasts of warmer temperatures as the week progresses the prediction for better fishing increases as well. Last week featured good reports of sheepshead and pompano, and offshore action for grouper and snapper continues to be great - as long as the wind is light and the boats can get out there.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said there are lots of catches of small sheepshead, although there was a "big" day of catches to 4 pounds. Other action includes a few black drum and some keeper-size redfish.

Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said fishing has been slow with the weather, but there are still reports of some sheepshead, some small flounder and a few black drum.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said lots of sheepshead are coming to the dock, plus a few keeper-size grouper caught by the shipping channel in Tampa Bay and near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and piers.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said his best bets include sheepshead, a few keeper-size grouper and some small redfish around the piers and docks.

At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, despite the cold the fishers are a hardy bunch and are getting out there to catch sheepies from all the bridges and piers, plus there are good reports of trout being caught in Palma Sola Bay.

At Skyway Bait & Tackle, the reports run to grouper, flounder, sheepshead and a few whiting, with some of the grouper of legal size. Fish seem to be hitting better in the mornings on the incoming tides, by the way, they add.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said he's putting his charters onto good catches of keeper-size trout, redfish and sheepshead.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he is still catching gag and red grouper, amberjack, mangrove snapper, lane snapper, triggerfish, sea bass and bonita. "Fishing is tougher on some days due to weather conditions," he said, "but they're still available, you just have to work harder on those days."

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said he took Meg and Patty Evans out and caught trout to 20 inches in length, redfish to 25 inches and sheepshead to 7 pounds.

On my boat Magic, the best we could get this week was some legal-size redfish to 26 inches and lots of sheepshead to 4 pounds, plus a few mangrove snapper to 16 inches in length.

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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