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Date of Issue: November 18, 2009

Heavy winds spell frustrating weekend fishing

A tropical disturbance to the south of Tampa Bay and a low pressure area to the north have kicked up the winds here, which, depending on the day, has led to poor fishing. In the bays, snook and redfish are coming up small and can be slow to bite. Anglers cannot get far offshore, although some have had good action on the lee side of beaches with kingfish. Some of the better bites have come from trout and flounder, which are more tolerable to these conditions. Trout and flounder also have come in as close as the local Island piers and are lying off deeper grass beds.

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Lee Howard, son Marshall and Amy Marshall got a trio of grouper, also from the channel while fishing with Capt. Mark Howard of Sumotime Charters

Rocky Corby from the Anna Maria City Pier said anglers are catching a lot of Spanish mackerel, shark and an occasional snook. Flounder has been a welcome catch the last couple of weeks, he said, as good-size doormat fish have been hitting shiners on the bottom, just off the walkway.

James Followell from the Sunshine Skyway south fishing pier said anglers have had good success with king mackerel, and he saw one of about 42 inches Nov. 6 that was being cleaned. Also, grouper and Spanish mackerel are good options.

Bob Kilb from the Rod & Reel pier said there have been quite a lot of black drum, as well as small redfish, hooked there. He said snook are all around and under the pier but haven’t been biting any bait. The Spanish mackerel action has been spotty, and a few sheepshead have been caught. “There’s ladyfish by the billions out here,” he added. “You can’t throw nothing in here without getting a ladyfish.”

The snook have “really turned on in the back country,” according to Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters. “Redfish are hitting around docks and flats edges. Kingfish, bonita, mackerel and big sharks are off the beach. Shiners are working on all the above species. When the weather calms down, the inshore grouper bite will again be strong. The transition from fall to winter is about to happen.”

Capt. Tom Chaya of Anna Maria Fishing Charters said because of the wind he’s been limited to fishing 1-5 miles off the beaches. While following bait schools, he reported catching kingfish to 30 pounds, blacktip sharks in the 100-pound range, and some big Spanish mackerel. He said action in the bay has been below average with small redfish and snook that are skittish to bite. “Especially snook fishing, I don’t know what’s going on there,” he said. That said, Chaya found the flounder action has picked up.

Capt. Ray Markham of Backwater Promotions out of Terra Ceia said he’s been hiding out of the wind and has been getting some nice redfish and snook, and trout to about 3 pounds on the deep grass flats off Rattlesnake Key and inside Terra Ceia Bay. He’s also caught some grouper that aren’t quite keepers over hard bottom spots of lower Tampa Bay. He added that these areas also have held flounder to 18 inches, black seabass, mangrove snapper, bluefish and Spanish mackerel. He’s been throwing MirrOlure MirrOdines and DOA shrimp for snook, and for the other species, he’s had good action with DOA deadly combos and a new MirrOprop lure.

Capt. Larry McGuire of “Show Me the Fish” Charters reported that gag grouper are grouping up and moving closer to the beaches, between 40 feet and 125 feet of water. Live bait has been working best. He also reported catches of scamp, amberjack, kingfish, cobia, sharks and barracudas. He said once the weather calms, fish will feed ferociously as grouper and snapper are pushed into ledges, reefs and rock piles.

Capt. Zach Zacharias of the “DEE JAY II” in Parrot Cove Marina has had good action with trout, including one at 26 inches. “Chug Bug” top-water lures and white bait have produced well for trout and Spanish mackerel on his trips. Also, snook and redfish were in potholes and close to the mangrove shoreline at the top of the tide. He also reported a day right after the last cold front, catching mangrove snapper, small barracuda and a slew of red and gag grouper off a wreck in north Sarasota Bay. Finally, Zacharias said he is surprised by the number and size of red grouper nailed by his charters close to the beach and in the bays.

Send fishing reports and photos to fish@islander.org.

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