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Date of Issue: December 28, 2006

Fishing

Fishing pic
Definitely a keeper
Rusty Feth caught this nice-sized pompano while fishing with Capt. Terry Frankford on the Reelin & Chillin.
Fishing pic
Happy fishers
Daniel and Carrie Hatford caught a big bull redfish while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire on Show Me The Fish Charters.

Grouper, snapper good offshore; reds, sheepies in bays

Fishing is a bit slow in the backwater - perhaps the fish are busy with the last-minute holiday planning or the crowd of boats looking for the big mullet payoff has them spooked.

The mullet fishers - all done now by castnetting - are reporting a good fall season, and at least one caller said they're grateful to be putting lots of food on the table and for a good holiday.

The mullet are fat with roe now, which provides a good income for the fishers and exports for the fish houses, and puts mullet on the table for lots of low-income folks who can't always afford fresh grouper or snapper.

If you're out with a hook and line, look for lots of sheepshead in the bays, plus a few redfish and black drum in the weeks ahead.

Offshore action for grouper and snapper is excellent in the Gulf of Mexico. Best catches are coming from the 50- to 100-foot depths, with the fish expected to move closer to shore as the water cools.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said sheepshead are the best bet for any inshore anglers, but there are still some good reports of redfish and catch-and-release snook coming out of the canals along the bays. Offshore grouper action is hot and heavy right now, with most of the fish caught in less than 100 feet of water. There are also good reports of lane and mangrove snapper in the Gulf.

      At Corky's Live Bait, Tackle and Snack Shop on Cortez Road, customers are catching redfish to 16 inches, flounder, sheepshead, black drum and snook and using live shrimp as bait, catch-and-release trout from the Manatee River. Offshore fishing is also good, with nice-sized catches of pompano, grouper, flounder and redfish, most caught with shrimp, pinfish or squid.

The monthly fishing tournament at Paradise Bay Estates Boat Club saw only sheepshead in the boat. First place honors went to Frank Chan with an 18 3/4-inch fish; Don Vogel came in second with an 18 1/8-incher; and Jerry Kozminski took third place with his 16 3/4-inch sheepie.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said fishers there are catching a few sheepshead and bluefish. He noted that mullet are thick around the pier, too.

Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said fishing has been a bit slow, but there have been a few catches of black drum, yellowtail jacks, sheepshead and small snook.

At Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez, Capt. Mark Johnston said he's putting his charters onto lots of redfish, some good-sized sheepshead and catch-and-release snook on the moving tides. Capt. Sam Kimball said his offshore charters are producing mangrove snapper as their No. 1 choice, with some fish tipping the scales at better than 8 pounds. He's also bringing home gag grouper to 10 pounds on his longer trips.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said black drum are in the cut and seem to be hungry. Big yellowtail jacks are also moving around, but the snook seem to have moved out for the winter. He's seeing lots of sheepshead being caught, though.

At Skyway Bait and Tackle, reports include sheepshead and redfish, with good catches coming out of Terra Ceia Bay and the Manatee River.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina said he's finding fishing action to be running hot and cold. "The beaches have still been producing some Spanish mackerel, bluefish and bonito," he said. "On the inshore side, it has been small- to medium-sized reds, nice-sized catch-and-release trout, sheepshead, black drum to 8 pounds and scattered pompano. Most of the inshore action has been around docks and structures, and fishing live shrimp deep over dark bottom in northern Sarasota Bay, Palma Sola Bay and Anna Maria Sound."

On my boat Magic, we've been catching lots of small redfish as well as a few big ones, plenty of sheepshead, black drum, whiting and catch-and-release trout to 20 inches.

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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