Aripeka to Longboat Key
Includes Hudson, New Port Richey, Anclote Key, Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, Clearwater, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Anna Maria Island and Bradenton
After a week of blazing tides coming off the full moon, fish have to be tired from chewing. A great week of fishing will likely be followed by more of the same despite lower tides.
Bottom fishing reports from anglers working in depths ranging from 20-to over 200-feet of water have one common thread. The fish chewed! Nearly all depths fished were holding fish, although the deeper depths were holding larger fish. Capt. Steve Papen and his anglers reported banner catches of scamp, red grouper, and gag grouper working 225-feet of water out of Madeira Beach. Capt. Dave Mistretta fishing on Jaws Too reported similar action lining up monster gags, reds, and mangrove snapper. The party boats out of Hubbard’s Marina fishing the 39-hour trip boated some big gags and red grouper as well. Scattered kings continue to be caught.
Bottom fishing wasn’t all that was going on this week. Jeff Martin, of Bradenton fishing with friends managed to find good numbers of Spanish mackerel, grunts, and grouper as well west of Anna Maria.
Anglers working nearshore and offshore artificial reefs continue to find permit and cobia early in the day. Crabs are top baits for both species. Consistent catches are coming from the reefs off Bradenton and Sarasota from 7-miles out.
Big schools of baitfish in nearshore waters had little tunny blitzing the bait. Feeding frenzies were reported and nearly any kind of jig, spoon, plug, or live bait tossed into the melee was met with a drag burning, line sizzling run.
Good action up and down the coast was reported this week on the waning moon. Huge afternoon high tides put snook and redfish back up inside mangrove islands and shorelines to feed, making for some slow fishing from about noon through 5 p.m. when the strong outgoing tide forced fish back out of the bushes. As waters dropped out to the negative levels fish dropped off the flats into channels and sought deeper potholes to hang until water levels began rising again. This made for some incredible opportunities to fish for concentrations of snook, trout, redfish, flounder and others.
Tarpon fishing was good from Sarasota to Tarpon Springs, according to reports. Capt. Rick Grassett out of CB Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key reported jumping and landing several tarpon while fishing coastal waters off Sarasota. Afternoons have been hot, not just for the temperature but for tarpon anglers fishing around the Skyway Bridge and out to Anna Maria.
Redfish action has been spotty. Good numbers of fish were reported being caught around the Little Manatee River and on the South Shore around Cockroach Bay early and late in the day. Gold Eppinger Rex Spoons, CAL Shads, MirrOlure MirrOdines and soft plastic Lil’ Johns produced excellent results for anglers tossing these fakes.
Mangrove snapper action inside Sarasota and Tampa Bays was excellent this week and should continue into the weekend. Target them around most any structure with a small live shrimp or whitebait. Scaled sardines are just getting to the point of being large enough to use for bait. Most are around 2 1/2-inches, but there are schools of some bigger bait if you look hard. Most of the larger baitfish are in deep water, but occasionally are forced to the surface by bluefish, mackerel, jacks, and ladyfish. Watch for fish breaking the surface followed by birds diving on the remains after a blitz.
Big bass were caught around the full moon, but some fast action was also reported from anglers working area ponds for bluegill, shell crackers, and an assortment of other sunfish. Red wigglers, earthworms, crickets, and even small bits of hot dogs were used to catch these panfish and some bass. Fly rodders were having a blast on 3-wt. rods with small poppers. These fish are great sport on fly. For those interested in learning the sport, there are several clubs in the West Central area that not only teach casting but also the art of fly tying. Pinellas anglers can look up www.suncoastflyfishers.com to find out information on the club. They meet the third Thursday night of each month. ‘Til then…I’ll catch ya’ later!