Evan Gage, 12, of Longboat Key, caught this nice-sized yellowtail snapper while fishing with Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters.
Sheepies No. 1 fish from local waters
It's all sheepshead all the time for local anglers, with cold weather and gusty winds keeping most fishers close to the dock.
Trout season re-opens Jan. 1, so any catches are being released. Ditto for snook. Redfish action is fair, though, and there are a few pompano and black drum reports in the past week.
Offshore fishing for grouper and snapper is good on the days the wind dies enough to get out in the Gulf of Mexico.
Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said sheepshead are the No. 1 fish being caught now, but the cold has slowed the action somewhat. Temperatures should warm next week, though, and he said the fishing should pick up accordingly.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's said he took Bob Lamb from Brevard, N.C., out to a catch of sheepshead to 5 pounds on a cold, windy, low-tide day just before Christmas. “We are getting into a solid winter pattern now and most days will produce good sheepshead action along with reds around docks and structure,” he said. “On warmer days with good tides there will still be catch-and-release snook action in canals and creeks. Trout open back up on January 1 and hopefully there will be some big winter trout migrating into the area as is usual in January and February.”
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said with snook and trout out of season right now, the best bets are redfish, sheepshead and mangrove snapper.
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he's getting into lots of sheepshead in the Manatee River and Terra Ceia Bay, with a few redfish also coming onto the boat.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said grouper fishing offshore has been stable and good, as well as snapper catches. Inshore action is pretty much limited to redfish and sheepshead, he added.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said fishing has been slow due to the cold and winds, but there were still a few sheepshead caught by the more hardy fishers.
At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, reports include sheepshead from the Anna Maria Island Bridge and a few catch-and-release trout caught by wade fishers.
At Skyway Bait & Tackle, reports include sheepshead from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge area of Tampa Bay and a few pompano.
On my boat Magic, we've been catching catch-and-release snook, some redfish, sheepshead and one big black drum.
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.