Patience, endurance needed to brave the heat, hunt a bite - Anna Maria Islander

2022-07-31 14:39:48 By : Ms. Nina Wu

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Fishing around Anna Maria Island is rewarding for anglers with enough patience and endurance to brave the heat.

For anglers hoping to stock up on some fillets, the offshore bite is where it’s at — but the sun can be relentless.

The American red snapper bite is going strong with limits of fish being reported daily on offshore fishing charters. The bite is occurring well offshore in depths of 150 feet or more, which requires some dedication on the part of anglers.

Those willing to spend eight or 10 hours on a boat — mostly under a hot, reflective sun — are being rewarded with many fish dinners.

While offshore, a variety of other species are being caught, including red grouper, mangrove and yellowtail snapper, mahi and blackfin tuna.

And if you’re lucky enough to come back to the dock with all the species mentioned, then spending numerous hours on the boat in the heat was likely worthwhile.

The inshore bite — although slightly more challenging — is producing results for anglers who have the option to stay closer to shore and spend only a few hours on the water.

Catch-and-release snook fishing is fairly consistent, as long as you can be the first one to a spot. You may encounter a redfish or two while targeting snook across the shallow flats adjacent to the mangroves.

On the deeper flats, spotted seatrout are waiting to be caught. And, mixed in with the trout, are numerous mangrove snapper, which are always a welcome addition to the cooler. Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and jacks are a possibility in these areas, adding variety to the bite.

On my Just Reel charters, we are hooking up with a fair amount of catch-and-release snook — measuring 20-30 inches — while working the shallow grass flats of Tampa Bay. Some chumming of live shiners is helping to get the fish motivated to take our bait.

On the deeper grass flats, I’m putting my clients on mangrove snapper and spotted seatrout, which can provide clients with a nice fish fry.

Capt. Jason Stock is impressed with the American red snapper bite while working offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. In depths exceeding 150 feet, Stock is finding more red snapper than his clients can handle and they’re easily coming back to the dock with limits of the tasty fish. Red grouper are present at these depths and are being caught in the 15-pound range.

Slightly shallower, in depths of 80-100 feet, Stock is finding many yellowtail snapper, as well as scamp grouper. Fishing floating debris at these depths also is leading to action on tripletail and mahi.

Fishing bait schools in these depths is worthwhile, as Stock has had good luck on blackfin tuna that forage on the surface.

Capt. David White also is finding limits of American red snapper while working offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Using live or frozen baits in depths of 150-180 feet is leading to limits of the hard-fighting large snappers. In the same areas, White also is putting clients on large red grouper.

Trolling while offshore is attracting the blackfin tuna for White’s anglers, especially when the bait schools are present.

Large mangrove snapper are being caught on White’s charters while working in depths of 60-80 feet.

Moving inshore, White says the primary bite is snook. Free-lining live shiners over grass flats is resulting in numerous hookups on catch-and-release linesiders.

Lastly, mangrove snapper are being found on structure and on deeper flats in Sarasota Bay.

Capt. Warren Girle is finding a variety of fish in a variety of spots. He reports that reef fishing in the Gulf of Mexico is yielding mangrove snapper — with some measuring up to 20 inches. On some days, sharks are infesting the reefs, which makes it challenging to reel up the snapper, although on days when the sharks are absent, the bite is quite good.

Fishing the flats of Sarasota Bay also is producing action for Girle. On the deeper flats, spotted seatrout and mangrove snapper are apparent as well as bluefish and Spanish mackerel.

Upon leaving the deeper flats and moving to the mangrove shoreline, Girle is putting clients onto an occasional redfish. Casting fresh-cut chunks of pinfish up against the bushes is proving successful.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says mangrove snapper are being caught by anglers using live shrimp as bait. Casting the shrimp under the pier deck is yielding the best results. Most catches are 12 inches, although larger snapper are present.

Catch-and-release snook are taking live shrimp offerings, but are under the minimum-size of 28 inches. Larger snook can be hooked using large bait such as pinfish or mojarras.      Finally, casting silver spoons or speck rings around the edges of the hatch bait schools is producing some mackerel and ladyfish hookups.

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