Kings slow in Gulf, but snook still hot in backwater
Quite a catch
Jack Thomas Shinn, 7, a first-grade student at Anna Maria Elementary School, set quite a record for his first-ever snook: a 30-inch 10-pounder caught with Dad Damon and friends aboard the family boat "Sea Lizard." Other catches included flounder and trout. Jack has been fishing since he was 3.
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Kingfish action has slowed a bit in the past week in the Gulf of Mexico, but grouper and snapper fishing remains great offshore.
Backwater's best bet is still snook, with some 40-inch monsters being reported. There are also good catches of trout, some redfish, and a few big flounder.
Don't forget the 18th Annual Kids Free Fishing Tournament will be Saturday, May 8, at the Green Bridge Pier in Palmetto, sponsored by the Manatee, Sarasota Fish & Game Association.
All children from the ages of 7 to 14 are eligible to fish. Entry is free and there is no charge for food and snacks. Bait, hooks and sinkers are provided for fishing, but each child must have their own rod, although organizers have said that under "unique circumstances" loaner rod and reels will be available. An adult must accompany children.
Prizes will be awarded for the first three places in each age group, along with lots of raffle prizes, although you must be present to win.
Registration starts at 7 a.m., the tournament runs from 8-10 a.m., lunch will start at 10 a.m., and awards presented from 10:45-11:30 a.m.
For more information, call 794-2806.
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he and his charters caught 35 snook last week, plus a few redfish and lots of trout off Tidy Island or Longboat Point using whitebait.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle said it's running hot and cold regarding fishing -- snook action in the backwater is hot, while kingfish catches in the Gulf of Mexico are cold. The bays are still producing lots of big redfish and trout, and offshore action for grouper and snapper is between fair and good.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said fishers there are catching some redfish, pompano, and a few keeper-size snook, but sheepshead have all but disappeared for the season.
Cliff Alcorn at the Anna Maria City Pier said fishing is somewhat slow, but there are still some snook being caught in the mornings, plus mackerel and some big redfish.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said there are lots of reports of black drum being caught in the cut and some snook coming out of Terra Ceia Bay. Mackerel are still hanging around the rocks off the front of Terra Ceia Bay, and there are good catches of mangrove snapper coming from the ship channels.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said he's bringing in big snook on almost every trip, and he's finding redfish action to be getting better and better. Trout are really big right now, as are snook, he said, with some linesiders coming in at better than 40 inches in length.
At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, reports are the basic backwater catches from this time of year: lots of snook, redfish and trout from the wade fishers, and grouper and snapper are providing the best bets for offshore anglers.
Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said his charters are doing well with snook, mackerel, redfish, trout, mangrove snapper and a few kingfish.
Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he guided Bill and Lori Shuttleworth and Tom and Kevin Brooks out to an awesome catch of some cobia to 55 pounds, blackfin tuna to 25 pounds, keeper red and gag grouper, as well as some 4-foot barracuda and bonita to 10 pounds. Capt. Larry also took the Ron Brown party out a large catch of red grouper to 18 pounds and gag grouper to 10 pounds. Other charters produced nice catches of mangrove snapper to 7 pounds, yellowtail snapper, scamp and black and red grouper.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez said bay fishing for snook has been good, with some catches to 31 inches. He's also putting his charters onto redfish to 30 inches, trout to 23 inches, although kingfish and cobia action was somewhat slow. He's finding some big grouper and snapper in about 50 feet of water, though, out in the Gulf.
On my boat Magic, we're still catching snook to 34 inches, redfish to 27 inches, trout to 24 inches and are picking up a few 18-inch flounder. I haven't gotten into the kings yet this year, but we did boat a legal-size cobia last week.
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 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.