A guide to family fishing in Anna Maria Island
Angler Kevin Muldoon moved to the west coast of Florida nearly three years ago.
His goal is to become an inshore captain and currently works as a deck hand on charter boats out of Clearwater Marina.
Most work days, he’s offshore fishing the bottom for grouper and snapper. When he’s not working, Muldoon likes to target big snook from shore. But with recent cooler weather, one of those offshore targets found its way home with Muldoon.
“I’m looking to buy a boat soon. I fish about three to five nights a week typically targeting big snook,” Muldoon said. “This time of year the water cools and it’s easier to target inshore gag grouper from land.”
Muldoon travels up and down the west coast in search of fish. Be it in Clearwater or St. Petersburg, or down to Sarasota and Venice, he’s after hungry fish from land.
For the most part he targets bridges, where a combination of bait, structure, current and light provide ample opportunities for fish at night.
“Gag grouper hold close to some bridges in the area. Usually I like to fish for them with 1.5-ounce to 2-ounce Flairhawk jigs. When that’s not working I’ll go to bait,” he explained. “Grouper aren’t too picky. If you know where to find them, they’ll eat a lot of stuff.
“Pinfish, ladyfish, mullet. And that was the case with the last one I caught. The jig bite was slow, so we caught a ladyfish, cut it up and I dropped the head down.”
Not a minute after dropping the head of the ladyfish down, Muldoon says the bait was eaten. His 8-foot St. Croix rod and Van Stall reel with 40-pound braid and 80-pound leader were put to the test to keep the fish out of structure.
“You have to fish with your drag locked down. I reeled tight and as soon as I set the hook the fish tried to rip the rod right out of my hands. Especially in heavy current these fish pull tremendously hard,” he said.
“I was sure something was going to pop. But I held on and worked that fish so hard away from the piling I bent the handle on my reel.”
As he worked the fish to shore, a beautiful 30-inch, 13.5-pound gag grouper was the reward.
With December being the last month of gag grouper season, it won’t be long until other fish will be targeted, but that shouldn’t be an issue for Muldoon, who’s been rewarded with plenty of big fish in his land fishing travels.
“I’ve caught quite a few gag grouper to 28 inches, even wading the flats. Other fish include a few decent sized tarpon, cobia and lots of snook. The biggest was 43 inches,” he said.
To follow Muldoon’s adventures, he can be found on Instagram @kteamfishing.