Grouper rules offshore catch, reds, macks plentiful near shore
Steven Hatfield, Jeff Sickles, Johnny Lamphron and Jim Waggoner caught these grouper and red snapper while fishing with Captain Scott aboard his boat the Stray Dog out of Cortez.
Fishing action is slowly getting into a summer-like mode. Redfish catches and a few trout are good bets in the backwater areas, plus catch-and-release snook.
Look for mackerel near the shore, grouper and snapper farther out in the Gulf of Mexico, plus some tuna and wahoo farther out.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said redfish are the big catch inshore right now, but most are too big to keep. Trout are coming out of Palma Sola Bay, and mackerel are still being caught off the beaches of Anna Maria Island. Offshore action includes tuna, dolphin, wahoo and a few kingfish, he added.
Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said that's he's also finding fishing to be "really great this week. We are catching permit, gag grouper, red grouper, scamp, mangrove snapper, hog snapper, amberjack, lots of blacktip sharks, spinner sharks, barracuda and triggerfish." One day last week he caught eight hog snapper, and he's also still catching kingfish up to 30 pounds on most trips out in the Gulf. His tip for the kings is to fish in the large bait schools offshore, with threadfin herring or bluerunners as bait. Most of his action comes from about 25 miles out in the Gulf.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said fishing is a bit slow, but he's seeing some small redfish up to 20 inches in length coming in as well as a few mackerel. Snook are hanging out under the pier, he added, but since they're out of season and don't seem to be hungry, they're just serving as a "tease" to anglers.
Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said mackerel are the fisher's mainstay at the pier right now, plus a few jacks, snapper, sharks, catch-and-release snook and a few sheepshead.
At Annie's Bait & Tackle in Cortez, Capt. Sam Kimball said he's finding fishing to be pretty good on his offshore charters, with good catches of grouper and snapper, mackerel and banded rudderfish. Capt. Mark Johnson, also out of Annie's, said his backwater charters are getting into lots of small catch-and-release snook, keeper-size redfish, a few trout and mackerel.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he's seeing some "monster-size" snook under the dock, and is hearing good reports of big snapper and keeper-size redfish in Terra Ceia Bay, most in the 18- to 20-inch range.
Capt. Tom Chaya on the Dolphin Dreams in Holmes Beach out of Catchers said kingfish are still around in 35 feet depth in the Gulf, plus he's catching "nice mangrove snapper and triggerfish at the same hard bottom. Reds, snook and trout are cooperating throughout Miguel and Terra Ceia bays, and shark fishing has been good in the bay off Emerson Point."
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina saidthat "angling action has been getting pretty interesting lately and some creativity is in order for success. Whitebait is getting harder to come by. It is notable that when I have gone to the trouble to get a bunch, they have been a dud for producing fish. Shrimp, small pinfish and crabs have been the ticket for success on my charters, with crabs particularly good for finicky redfish, followed by shrimp and pinnies. The biggest snook in the past couple of weeks was a 34-incher taken with half a blue crab suspended beneath a cork while targeting redfish. All of the snook and reds have been caught fishing tight to the shade of mangroves on the extra-high tides we've had lately, especially where there are oyster beds as well." Capt. Zach added that deeper bay waters are still producing "some really nice spotted sea trout, gray trout, jumbo Spanish mackerel, bluefish, assorted shark and the occasional pompano. Again, all of the above preferred either shrimp or pinfish over whitebait." He took Carrie and Troy Kreiser and friend Richard Eettle of Pennsylvania out last week and the trio "scored a backwater slam of snook, reds and trout. The threesome also bested a few shark, mango snapper and big Spanish macks on a half-day trip. Carrie, who owned up to be a complete novice at the start of the trip, ended up being the top rod for the day." He also guided Joe Kreon and Bob Lamb, both from Cleveland, Ohio, to a nice catch of redfish to 23 inches and spotted sea trout to 21 inches in Palma Sola and Anna Maria Sound.
On my boat Magic, we've caught redfish to 30 inches, mangrove snapper and mackerel.
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.