Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters caught a double handful of gag grouper while fishing offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.
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Good fishing is finally here in bays, Gulf
Fishing is picking up daily, thanks in part to the for-now apparent departure of the worst of the red tide.
Backwater anglers are reeling in lots of snook, some redfish and lots of trout.
Mangrove snapper are everywhere there is structure in the bays, with the rocky ledges along parts of the Intracoastal Waterway a good target spot for the bigger fish.
Offshore fishing is excellent for grouper in the Gulf of Mexico, with the best catches coming in the 100-foot range.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's said that "Things are looking up, depending on the area you are looking at. The bay waters from the Anna Maria Island Bridge south to the county line, including Palma Sola Bay, are looking great for the first time in months. Bait is plentiful, easy to get, and remains frisky for hours in a baitwell." He's putting his charters onto lots of snook, but trout and redfish have been spotty for him. He's taking up the slack with lots of mangrove snapper "from just about every piling, ledge, wreck, or shellbar in the bay."
Capt. Thom Smith at Angler's Repair on Cortez Road said he put his charters onto redfish and trout near Joe's Bay and Terra Ceia Bay last week and found either shrimp or artificial bait worked well.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said mangrove snapper are thick right now. He suggests trying for the bigger fish near the rock ledges near the Intracoastal Waterway, using either shrimp or shiners as bait, or even small pinfish. Snook are hitting very well right now, and redfish are starting to school on the seagrass flats. Offshore, bottom fishing for grouper is excellent in about 100 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said there are a lot of mangrove snapper being caught at the pier, plus some pompano and a few sheepshead. Fishing has generally improved in the past few days, he added.
Andrew Morris at the Anna Maria City Pier said there are snook being caught early in the mornings, mangrove snapper throughout the day to 15 inches, with shrimp serving as the best bait for the best action right now.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said there are snapper being caught off the docks and in the shipping channel in Tampa Bay, with some reports coming in of fish to 17 inches in length. There are also good reports of snook and a few redfish.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said snook fishing is excellent right now. He's also putting his charters onto limit catches of redfish on most trips, and is also catching lots of mangrove snapper.
At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, there are lots of snook reports, trout are being caught on the seagrass flats as well as a few redfish, and lots of mangrove snapper are biting near any structure.
At Skyway Bait and Tackle, reports include mangrove snapper from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge piers and redfish in Miguel Bay. The reds have really "invaded" the bay, with the best action coming near the mangroves using shrimp as bait.
Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said that fishing "is real good offshore about 40 miles. Our clients are catching gag grouper to 25 pounds, red grouper to 20 pounds, lots of red snapper, mangrove snapper, and a few yellow tail snapper, sharks and bonitas. Fishing closer in is tougher, but we have been catching smaller grouper, snapper and cobia." He said he is using mostly frozen Spanish sardines as bait due to the red tide killing the fresh fish in the baitwells, although the catch of small Key West grunts or sand perch offshore is working well for some good hookups.
On my boat Magic, we caught redfish to 27 inches, snook to 30 inches, trout to 17 inches and mangrove snapper to 16 inches. Fishing is definitely improving.
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 email@example.com. 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.