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Date of Issue: July 12, 2007

Fishing Grouper, snapper still mainstay offshore; reds good in backwater

Fishing pic
Tarpon on! Tarpon on!
Capt. Mac Gregory, left, David Luedeka, Colby Gregory and Danielle Hudson caught this pair of tarpon in late June.

It’s apparently a late season appearance for tarpon, but there are a few reports of the silver kings coming onto the hook off Egmont Key in Tampa Bay.

While the big tarpon may be finicky, grouper and snapper are hungry and coming onto the hook for fishers in the Gulf of Mexico, as are amberjack.

Mackerel are starting to hit for anglers off the piers on Anna Maria Island as well, plus some catch-and-release snook and lots of mangrove snapper are being reported.

Backwater action for redfish is also excellent, but the trout catch is spotty so far this summer.

At Annie’s Bait & Tackle in Cortez, Capt. Sam Kimball said his charters are doing really well with red and gag grouper to 10 pounds offshore, plus mangrove snapper to 5 pounds and amberjack at 30 pounds. Capt. Mark Johnson, also out of Annie’s, said his backwater trips are producing a lot of catch-and-release snook, redfish to 27 inches in length, mackerel and mangrove snapper.

Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said inshore fishers are reporting excellent catches of reds and mackerel, and snapper are “all over the place.” Offshore bottom fishing for grouper and snapper is also excellent. Trolling for dolphin, wahoo and tuna is starting to also pick up, he said, and should get much better as summer continues.

Tom Cassetty at the Rod & Reel Pier said mackerel have started to show up on hooks at the pier, plus some redfish up to 24 inches, a few little flounder and mangrove snapper.

Jesus Rosario at the Anna Maria City Pier said he’s seeing anglers bringing in mackerel, snapper, catch-and-release snook and some big yellowtail jacks.

Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said he’s hearing good reports of redfish coming out of Terra Ceia Bay, plus big sharks and tarpon out in front of that body of water. Trout are hard to find, though, but there are plenty of catch-and-release snook.

At Tropic Isles Marina, reports include bonnethead sharks from Terra Ceia Bay, a few redfish and some flounder.

Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said he’s finding fishing to continue to be “real hot, like the weather. We are catching big gag, red and black grouper, scamp, red and mangrove snapper, hogfish, big permit, amberjack, barracuda, cobia and a variety of sharks.” He said he’s mostly fishing out to about 150 miles offshore of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key in the Gulf, using a variety of live bait and artificial lures.

Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina said he took the Sharp family, John Sr., John Jr., and Melissa, on a half-day outing last week and “we did OK with mangrove snapper and catch-and-release snook near Longboat Pass. Later, we tried a number of spots between Long Bar and Tidy Island with little success other than some ladyfish. Just before heading in we managed to hook up with some decent redfish at the start of the incoming tide under docks in Palma Sola Bay. The best red that was landed went 23 inches.” Capt. Zach said “there is a lot of fry bait in the area that is getting to netable size. This ‘snapper candy’ is the ticket to great catches of mangrove snapper that are schooling up for a late summer spawn, as well as being a hot bait for any remaining Spanish mackerel in the area.” He also said that, although he hasn’t done many tarpon charters this season, the word is that they have arrived late and are boatable near Egmont Key. “Despite little rain and summer heat, fishing in the area has continued pretty strong,” he added. “Water quality is good in most areas, although areas of low-oxygen levels may be encountered, especially on the seagrass flats and in the morning. The fish don't necessarily abandon the low-oxygen areas, but generally don't feed well while it is occurring.”

On my boat Magic, we caught reds to 28 inches on the lower tides, upwards of 20 catch-and-release snook per trip, with some up to 29 inches in length, plus yellowtail jack to 7 pounds.

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 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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