This past week fishing out of Anna Maria Island on my 23-foot Hydraport, the weather has been a major factor affecting our fishing success. Overcast skies has made sight-fishing tough for tarpon. Though still off the beach, the number of tarpon schools has been dwindling. Big shiners and threadfins have been the ticket to our success fighting these huge silver kings.
Sharks have made a huge showing around Anna Maria and Tampa Bay. On a recent charter, I pulled up to a grass edge and slowly swimming in 2 feet of water was a 6-foot blacktip shark. Its tail and dorsal fin were slicing through the water like a knife through hot butter. The key to catching these hard fighters is to use chum blocks and lots of chum shiners. A bloody mackerel or ladyfish will get these toothy animals to bite.
Redfish have started to feed heavily around the mangrove shorelines during the incoming tide. Live shiners and pinfish will entice these hard-fighting bruisers to bite.
Use a bobber to keep your bait from swimming into the grass.
Looking forward the full moon will bring huge and fast-moving tides during the week. Look for tarpon to congregate in the passes and feed in preparation for their move to open water to spawn. The key to fishing success is to take advantage of the moving water and be at your fishing spot when the tide turns.
Capt. Mark Howard
Tarpon fishing this week has slowed down dramatically with most of the big fish heading offshore to spawn. Most of the remaining fish that we are catching are smaller, most in the 50- to 60-pound range. Redfish continue to be hit or miss; one day they are easy to catch, the next day fishing the same waters nothing happens.
Trout as always is usually pretty reliable for a fish dinner. With the rain we’ve been getting every day now, we’ve been trying to focus on cleaner water if we can find it. The grass flats in 6 to 8 feet of water are producing good numbers of trout.
I did see some big snook cruising the shallow sand bar around Passage Key last week while tarpon fishing, so hopefully their spawn goes well this year so we can get their numbers back up and have a season starting next September.
Capt. Mike Senecal
Tarpon fishing remains good off Sarasota beaches, although conditions this past week made it challenging. Anglers fishing with me on my Action Craft flats skiff the Snook Fin-Addict, out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, jumped several tarpon on flies and landed one. I also spent a couple of days over in Stuart at the annual DOA Guide/Outdoor Writer Festival, where we caught and released snook, trout, flounder, black drum and jacks.
The DOA event is held out of River Palm Cottages and Fish Camp, “A Cool Place to Stay”, on the banks of the Indian River in Jensen Beach. It is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway. Not only is it right on the Indian River, it has a Florida Keys atmosphere with a nice Tiki Hut and dockage for boats, and they’re pet-friendly, too. Outdoor writers, sponsors and guides were matched up daily to fish the fertile waters of the Indian and St. Lucie rivers. Tarpon to 100 pounds, snook to 30 pounds, trout to more than 10 pounds, reds and permit were caught and released on DOA baits by anglers participating in the event.
Capt. John Irwin, from Charleston, S.C., fished the Indian and St. Lucie rivers with me Monday. The action wasn’t fast, but we caught a variety of species, including snook, trout, flounder and black drum on DOA TerrorEyz, DOA shrimp and CAL jigs with shad tails. Capt. Dave Lear, from Tallahassee, and Rusty Chinnis, from Longboat Key, fished with me Tuesday. We caught and released a couple of snook on DOA shrimp in the St. Lucie Inlet and a couple of nice trout on a sandbar in the Indian River near River Palm Cottages.
Tarpon action should be good this week as we head away from the new moon. The best action has been on afternoon outgoing tides. Flats action in Sarasota Bay for trout, Spanish mackerel, blues and more should also be a good option although the best action is usually in the morning before heat becomes an issue. Catch-and-release snook fishing around lighted docks and bridge fenders close to passes should also be a good option and is a great way to beat the heat.
Capt. Rick Grassett