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Date of Issue: March 30, 2005

Fishing

Giant goliath grouper
Islander Joey Mattey, center, and cousins Josh May and Zane Zavadil prove that a 17-foot and 25-pound test fishing line is all that's needed to catch this Goliath grouper last Saturday night. Islander Photo: Courtesy Kathy Mattey
Click on image to enlarge

Kings finally run offshore, snook action excellent

Kingfish are finally starting to show up about 10 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico, with good reports only expected to get better as long as the weather improves quickly and lets anglers get out there. Grouper fishing is also excellent.

Backwater fishing for snook is about as good as its gotten in years right now, plus lots of reports are coming in of big trout and redfish.

Capt. Sam Kimball on Legend charters out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said he's catching lots of mangrove snapper, grunts, porgies, sheepshead and mackerel. Kingfish are starting to show up offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, and grouper fishing is excellent.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's said he's catching lots of Spanish mackerel, bluefish and a few sheepshead. Snook action is excellent right now, with some fish up to 34 inches being brought to the boat. Offshore kingfish fishing is also excellent in about 50 feet of water in the Gulf, but the run hasn't moved close to shore as yet. >Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he's finding lots of big snook and redfish, with both live bait and artificials working around Miguel and Terra Ceia bays.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said last week's calm seas and warm weather really turned the fishing on. Kingfish reports started to flood into his shop, with the best action about 10 miles out in the Gulf. There are also plenty of Spanish mackerel being caught, plus snapper, triggerfish and grouper. Backwater action includes some hot snook reports, with a lot of the linesiders falling into the slot limit with a few reported better than 40 inches in length.

Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said lingering sheepshead are the best bet for pier anglers right now. Mackerel are a hit-and-miss fish: good one day, nonexistent the next. Whitebait is also moving around a lot. Other action includes jacks, flounder and a few black drum.

Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said sheepshead are still being caught, but not in the numbers fishers were used to a month or so ago. Mackerel are the best bet, he said, with some small jacks, sharks and a few snook being landed mostly at night.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said there are a lot of Spanish mackerel being caught in the cut or by the rocks fronting Terra Ceia Bay. There are some good-sized trout being caught on the seagrass flats and snook fishing remains good, as well as snapper and drum around the railroad bridge in the Manatee River.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said it's the best snook season in recent years, with limit catches on most days for his charters. Trout are spawning and running on the large size, and he's also catching plenty of redfish and Spanish mackerel.

At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, reports are coming in that baitfish are starting to show up on the seagrass flats in the bays. Wade fishers report catching some really big trout to 24 inches, a few redfish and big keeper-size snook near the mangroves at high tide.

Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said he's catching lots of mackerel, good-size mangrove snapper, grouper offshore and snook, redfish and trout in the backwater.

Capt. Matt Denham out of Catchers said he's seeing lots of grouper in the 25-pound range offshore, plus he's reeling in lane, mangrove and yellowtail snapper farther out. He also caught some 30-pound amberjack and one 20-pound cobia last week.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters has been guiding his clients out to lots of school kingfish, limit catches of mangrove snapper, some hog snapper to 3 pounds, gag grouper, scamp, red grouper and mackerel, as well as barracuda to 5 feet and black tip sharks to 6 feet. He has been fishing in depths of 40 to 85 feet of water using live baits, frozen sardines and shrimp.

On my boat Magic, we caught snook to 34 inches and trout to 26 inches. Snook fishing is excellent right now, with keepers caught on every trip. Pat Adams of Terra Ceia Bay caught her first snook, a 27-incher, with me last week, and we're also reeling in a lot of trout to 24 inches in length.

Good luck and good fishing.

Capt. Mike Heistand is a 20-year fishing guide. Call him at 779-9607 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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