Tarpon still on deck, easy hookups near Skyway
Cortez residents, from left, Beau Bell, Shane Montgomery and Garrett Causey, caught this 160-pound tarpon off Anna Maria Island.
Some anglers last week were going through silver king withdrawal as many tarpon left area waters for their full moon spawn.
The tarpon should be thick again, however, in a season that many anglers are saying has been the best in recent memory.
Other quality targets this week should be mangrove snapper around various piers and rock piles, and redfish, which tend to come on following heavy rains.
Kim Schearer from Annie’s Bait & Tackle said her customers are reporting nice redfish and trout catches around Tidy Island. The trout are reportedly hiding in the grass. Some anglers reported bouncing a live shrimp along the edge of the grass and the trout were pouncing on it and then trying to hide again, similar to how a grouper might wedge itself in rocks, she said.
Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters said with the summer heat in full swing, fishing early in the morning or in the afternoon is the key to success. The speckled trout have been biting in the shallow water early in the morning and dropping to the deeper grass, in 5-8 feet of water, in the heat of the day.
Howard said on a recent charter, one client hooked a 100-pound tarpon in 4 feet of water while trout-fishing.
He added the tarpon are on the beaches and in the passes. “You should have a variety of baits to entice the silver king to chew,” Howard said. Also, he reported redfish are moving to the passes getting ready to spawn. Mangrove snapper fishing is starting to heat up as well. He suggests using a lot of chum, 25-pound fluorocarbon leaders and 1/0 hooks to help trick the finicky-eating mangrove snapper.
Capt. Sam Kimball of Legend Charters has been fishing 10-20 miles offshore in swells up to 5 feet. The grouper bites have slowed way down, he said, but Kimball has still managed to land a few gag and red grouper. Triggerfish are biting along with blacktip and blacknose sharks. The kingfish are being finicky, but Kimball said he managed to catch a few smokers. Also, he has been catching some flounder in the 4-5 pound range, using live shiners for bait.
Capt. Mark Johnston of Legend Charters has been fishing Longboat Pass and Sarasota Bay. He reported catching a 26 3/4-inch redfish, trout, mangrove snapper and Spanish mackerel using live shiners and shrimp on a slow-moving tide. He reported that Richard Talbert, 80, who claimed to have fished around the world for the past 66 years, caught his first Spanish mackerel with Johnston.
Capt. Steven Salgado said he’s been fishing within 13 miles of the Anna Maria Island beaches for gag grouper, tarpon and sharks.
Capt. Zach Zacharias of the DEE JAY II out of the Cortez Fishing Center reported that, as usual, the full moon in June was a transitional period and often a tough moon phase on which to fish. “The Gulf roughed up when we were caught between (Hurricane) Alex to the southwest and a high pressure off the east coast,” he said. “Most anglers will find the availability of white bait to be on the wane as well. Plentiful small pinfish are filling the bait void and work very well during the hot summer months.”
He said persistence paid off with catches of grouper, snapper and mackerel, both in the bay and the Gulf.
Inshore fishing was a little squirrely, he said, but trout, sharks, bluefish, and ladyfish provided action over deep grass in the open waters of north Sarasota Bay and Anna Maria Sound.
He said redfish were a tough nut to crack. “Success with the blue tails is an early-morning or late-evening window of opportunity,” he said.
Tarpon are still plentiful and, along with the snook, he said, probably spawned during the full moon.
“Going into July, the big pre-spawn schools of tarpon will start breaking up but still will be available in smaller pods all over the area,” he said.
Richard Leitz from the Sunshine Skyway south fishing pier said anglers have caught mangrove snapper up to 16 inches, grouper to 40 inches and Spanish mackerel, which have been scattered. He said the mangrove snapper bite has been better in the afternoons and evenings.
Bob Kilb from the Rod & Reel Pier said anglers have been getting a few mangrove snapper, black drum, Spanish mackerel and an occasional big redfish.
Rocky Corby from Anna Maria City Pier said fishers are catching a few Spanish mackerel, a couple mangrove snapper and a few sharks.
Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me the Fish Charters out of the Cortez Fishing Center said his parties are catching black, gag and red grouper, mangrove and American red snappers, cobia, kingfish, porgys, amberjacks, barracudas, mahi mahi and a variety of large sharks
He said best action started at about 125 feet using live baits. The larger red grouper are moving in to this depth and should continually improve as the summer progresses, he said. On his half-day trips closer in around 50 feet, his anglers were catching smoker kingfish, keeper gag grouper and lots of sharks.
Capt. Warren Girle said he had been fishing for tarpon until the silver kings moved off the beaches for their full moon spawn. Girle fished off Bean Point boats where crabs were flowing through early last week, along with about eight other boats, and didn’t see a tarpon. But the fish should be everywhere now, from off the beaches to the passes and even down around the Rod & Reel Pier.
Girle has heard reports of a bunch of redfish around. He said trout will be on the flats early in the mornings and in deeper water, around 3-5 feet, around midday. He suggests targeting mangrove snapper at the Skyway.
Capt Mike Greig said he’s been catching a lot of trout this week, even reportedly hooking up 50 in one day in Tampa Bay. He said while fishing for trout he hooked a 50-pound tarpon on 20-pound PowerPro. “It took a half hour to get him in,” Grieg said. He added there are a lot of bluefish and Spanish mackerel, as well as a few keeper grouper, in Tampa Bay.
Capt. Scott Moore said it’s a good time to target mangrove snapper, especially around the local piers.
He said the influx of rain should only help the redfish bite. “The rain sweetens the water up,” Moore said. “Redfish don’t really like clear water. They’re not crazy about pristine, clean water.” And he added redfish like to sit in shade more than about any species. “For some reason they just really like the shade,” he said.
Capt. Logan Bystrom said tarpon fishing slowed down last week. He said he’s still catching some nice mangrove snapper and is enjoying some excellent fishing with sharks, which have been mostly blacktip and lemons. He said he’s also catching grouper, Spanish mackerel and mangrove snapper off the beaches. He said trout have been plentiful on the inshore grass flats and on some of the rock piles off the beaches.
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