The Greenhill family of Clermont caught a mess of gag grouper while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire. Pictured, from left, are Justin, 13, Cathi and Kevin.
Amberjack big offshore, plus reds, sheepies in backwater
Fishing is great both inshore and offshore right now.
Big amberjack, snapper and lots of grouper are thick offshore, plus an occasional cobia.
In the backwater, look for lots of redfish and huge snook to come to the hooks, as well as sheepshead and lots of fun-to-catch catch-and-release trout.
Capt. Wayne Genthner of Wolfmouth Charters on Longboat Key said he's finding the nearshore fishing off wrecks in water up to 30 feet off Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key to be excellent, with catches ranging from cobia to black tip shark, plus Spanish mackerel, lady fish and bluefish taking live jumbo shrimp and free-lined pinfish. He's also catching some oversized redfish and large sheepshead. Farther offshore, he's catching king mackerel gag grouper and big mangrove, lane, yellowtail and mutton snapper in about 90 feet of water.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said amberjack up to 50 pounds are thick around the artificial reefs offshore. There are also lots of big mangrove and yellowtail snapper coming out of the Gulf of Mexico, plus plenty of grouper. In the backwater, look for continued good fishing for redfish in Sarasota Bay, and sheepshead are starting to really turn on at the local piers.
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he's been catching snook to 27 inches, redfish to 23 inches and lots of catch-and-release trout with both artificial and live bait.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said sheepshead were the No. 1 catch at the pier this week, followed by a few redfish, drum and some small snook. He said for some unknown reason he found fishing to be a bit slow.
At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, reports include lots of redfish catches on the lower tides around Perico Island, plus snook on higher tides just outside of the marina channel. There are also lots of good catches of sheepshead off the Anna Maria Island Bridge.
Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said they're catching black drum, some snapper, sheepshead, flounder and some snook there.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he's finding the snapper bite to be down a bit, but the snook, drum, redfish and bluefish hits have more than made up the slack. Terra Ceia Bay is a good spot to stop, he added, and one boater caught and released a 40-inch snook just off the Crab House last week.
At Skyway Bait & Tackle, reports include lots of redfish coming out of Miguel Bay from the oyster beds, sheepshead from the Sunshine Skyway -oops, make that the Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge piers - and plenty of catch-and-release trout action.
Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he guided the Kevin Greenhill family of Clermont out to a nice catch of gag grouper to 20 pounds, as well as some mangrove snapper to 5 pounds. "Fishing is real hot now that the cold front has moved through," Capt. Larry said, "and the winds and waves have calmed down. You have to go out far enough to find clean water where the fish are hungry and ready to feed."
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's said he took Charley, David, Daniel and Jake Biddle from Rye, N.Y., to a catch of around 20 snook, a few redfish, flounder and sheepshead late last week. All of the action came on an outgoing tide using live shrimp, he said. Kurta and J.R. Addington of Indiana, along with kids Hannah and Zach, caught a number of snook and a few reds earlier in the week, with 9-year-old Hannah hooking a keeper snook for dinner. Whitebait was the ticket that day. "Since the big windy front last week, whitebait has become scarce on the flats and may be history until spring," Capt. Zach said. "Those looking to net bait may have to travel to the Skyway before it all disappears."
On my boat Magic, we've been fishing offshore and having good results with mangrove snapper to 18 inches, triggerfish to 3 pounds, lane snapper to 15 inches and a keeper-size cobia. Inshore, we've been catching sheepshead, drum, snapper and lots of redfish using shrimp and whitebait
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 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.