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Date of Issue: June 10, 2009

Tarpon thick along beaches, in Tampa Bay

Fishing pic
Great fish
Brothers Keegan and Brendan Murphy, in a joint effort, caught this 3-foot-long blacktip shark just off Bean Point. The lads planned to cook shark steaks for their dad on his birthday that week. Islander Photo: Courtesy Grandpa Dan Murphy

It’s still tarpon time off Anna Maria Island.

The big fighting fish are to be found and caught off the beaches, in the passes and near Egmont Key, and even on the seagrass beds in the bays.

Trout and catch-and-release snook also are moving from beach to bay right now. Redfish action is somewhat sporadic, but there are still some big spotties to be had by the piers.

Offshore fishing for amberjack, snapper and grouper is great in the Gulf of Mexico. The grouper bite is moving farther from shore as the water warms, but the hits keep on coming.

There also are some cobia mixed in around the tarpon pods, and reports of dolphins being caught offshore.

Capt. Logan Bystrom said tarpon fishing has been great. “We’ve been getting plenty of hookups in the morning incoming and evening outgoing tides using shiners and crabs,” he said. “We’ve been catching a few cobia here and there while tarpon fishing, so keep an eye out for them. This week there will be prime outgoing tides in the evenings, perfect for tarpon fishing, so be ready.”

Danny Stasny at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said tarpon have really turned on of late. Silver kings are being caught off the beaches, in Tampa Bay and even in the backwater on seagrass beds. “Guys are telling me they’re in the bays fishing for trout and ‘boom!’ they’ve got a tarpon on a trout rig,” he said. Trout fishing also is excellent, with some captains reporting anywhere from 50 to 80 fish hooked per trip. Redfish action is sporadic, Danny said. Offshore fishing is excellent for amberjack, with lots of schooling AJs spotted. Red snapper season is again open, and lots of fish are coming to the docks from the 100-foot depths. Grouper fishing is decent, he added, but the big fish are starting to move into deeper waters of the Gulf. The kingfish run is mostly over for the season, Danny said, although there are still some king mackerel being caught. There also are some dolphins — the fish, not Flipper — being caught in about 75 feet of water. The fish are small, but still fun to catch. He warned that hammerhead and bull sharks are finding hooked tarpon to be a tasty treat, with more than a few fishers reporting hookups only to reel in a tarpon with a big shark bite.

Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business said he’s finding snook to be “really chewing” right now. He said he caught a couple catch-and-release linesiders per trip in the past few weeks, but the action has really picked up in the past few days, both in the bays and along the beaches.

At the Rod & Reel Pier in Anna Maria, Bob said fishing is pretty good, with lots of mackerel, snapper, over-size redfish and lots of catch-and-release snook being caught. The kids are loving the blue runner catch, he added, as well as the jacks.

At the Anna Maria City Pier, Rocky said fishers are catching lots of mackerel. Best time to fish is in the mornings or late afternoons. There also are a lot of dolphins putting on a show around the pier.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina in Cortez said the morning squalls put the Gulf pretty much off limits for his charters for a few days last week, but an early week trip produced non-stop action for Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper, grouper, cobia and sharks. “A young lady from London, England, did battle with one of the biggest cobia I've seen in years on 15-pound test line,” he said. “When she passed the rod off to her hubby, he sadly applied too much pressure on the big fish and that was all she wrote.” Capt. Zach said he’s also been fishing in northern Sarasota Bay, catching trout, bluefish, mackerel and big ladyfish. Fishing for sharks is “jammed” in the mouth of Tampa Bay to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. “There’s an unbelievable array of bait around right now”  adding to his success, he said, “from fry pilchards to big slabs, pinfish, finger mullet, shad, thread herring and Spanish sardines. The bait is all over the inshore flats, on the beaches, and out in the Gulf.”

Good luck and good fishing.

Fishing news and photos are welcome and may be submitted to Paul Roat by e-mail at paul@islander.org.

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