|Melissa Shipley, 19, of Orlando, caught some nice gag and red grouper while fishing with her dad, Skip, aboard the Show Me The Fish Charters with Capt. Larry McGuire.
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Mixed bag for inshore anglers
Slightly cooler air and water temperatures appear to not only make the fishing more enjoyable for the fishers, but it's improving the appetite of the fish as well.
Inshore action is about everything possible right now: Snook, redfish, trout, lots of mangrove snapper, flounder and pompano. Snapper action is very good right now, although the snook fishing is running a little small for some anglers.
Offshore fishing for grouper and snapper is also great now, at least on the days when the wind is down, with good results coming from about 100 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico.
Terry Morrison at the Anna Maria City Pier said anglers there also caught a few of everything the Gulf or bays could offer: snook, drum, pompano, whiting, snapper and flounder, with mangrove snapper being the best bet right now.
Capt. Rick Gross on Fishy Business out of Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said snook fishing is still pretty good, with some catches up to 34 inches coming aboard his boat. He's getting limit-catches of redfish as well, plus some good-sized mangrove snapper.
Dave Johnson at Snead Island Crab House said people are bringing snook back to the dock almost every day now. There are lots of good-sized redfish being caught on the lower tides, and snapper are near almost every structure in the bays.
Bill Lowman at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said offshore fishing is improving in the Gulf of Mexico on the days when the wind dies down. He's heard of reports of grouper and snapper coming from about 100 feet of water out there. In backwater action, snapper is the hot ticket right now, with good reports of reds and snook as well.
Bob Kilb at the Rod & Reel Pier said fishers there are catching some mangrove snapper, a few redfish, some whiting, pompano, black drum, flounder and a few snook. "There were no mackerel caught this week," Bob said, "but there was a little bit of almost everything else brought in."
At Skyway Bait and Tackle, reports are that flounder is starting to bite in Terra Ceia Bay. There are lots of snapper near the Sunshine Skyway reefs, and redfish are thick near Joe's Island.
At Perico Island Bait and Tackle, reports included lots of redfish action on the lower tides near Perico Island. There are still lots of folks having a hard time keeping bait alive due to the red tide in Sarasota Bay, but for those that can keep the whitebait or shrimp wiggling, there are lots of big trout coming off the seagrass flats near Key Royale and snapper along the Intracoastal Waterway.
Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said that "fishing has been improving since Hurricane Katrina. Places thought to be affected by red tide - the 'dead zone' are coming back. We have been fishing out to 85 feet of waters in the Gulf, using frozen sardines and shrimp as bait, and have been catching gags, red grouper, mangrove snapper, yellowtail snapper, sharks and some barracuda.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee-Jay II out of Annie's said that "Fishing was pretty good, with some truly productive days and others a little harder. The tides going into this week are looking pretty good and with a little break from Mother Nature it should be pretty good on the angling front." He is catching lots of snapper near "any docks, shell bars, wrecks or ledges." Snook catches are plentiful but are running small for Capt. Zach, and redfish seem to be moving around a lot. He's expecting the next few weeks to bring in Spanish mackerel, and other pelagics should move early this year due to the turbulent waters in the northern Gulf. "This happened a few years back when the north Gulf Coast was impacted by several strong storms."
On my boat Magic, we ran one trip last week but caught 20 redfish to 25 inches in length, several small snook, four trout up to 20 inches, flounder to 18 inches and mangrove snapper to 16 inches.
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.