Out on the nearshore reefs there has been some pretty good steady action with mangrove snapper, grouper, flounder, Spanish mackerel, and an occasional cobia.
There is a conspicuous lack of big bait schools out in 30-to-40 feet of water. There is actually far more bait in close to the beaches and in the bays. The heavy rains of last weekend have probably pushed a lot of bait out of the backwaters and concentrated it near gulf passes and along the beaches.
On the inside there has been some decent results with trout, snapper, reds, and snook in that order. Paying attention to the tides has been crucial to success on the inshore waters of Manatee and Sarasota counties. It appears that the best tidal stages to fish are early in a low incoming tide and during the ebb of the huge tides lately. The highs have been topping out at nearly 3 feet.
We caught some really dandy trout on an early morning incoming tide with a top water “Chug Bug” by Storm Lures in north Sarasota Bay. The hot little lure was also being blasted by big ladyfish, jacks, and bluefish. There were actually some dandy mangrove snapper taken with it as well. The copious amount of rain and its runoff usually pushes a lot of the fresh/brackish water intolerant species such as trout, flounder, mackerel, pompano, etc. out to the open bay waters and passes.
Reds, snook, jacks, and snapper do not mind the lower salinities so the fresh water runoff does not really affect those species.
(Capt. Zach Zacharias of the “Dee Jay II” can be reached at 941-795-5026 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.)