As snowbirds leave, migratory species arrive
Springtime fishing around Anna Maria is heating up with a host of migratory species making a showing in our local waters.
Kingfish, Spanish mackerel and cobia can be found in depths as shallow as 20 feet of water as well as on out to deeper water. Casting free-lined live shiners to any of these species will get you connected. You may even wonder who has caught who as a 40-inch king or cobia dumps half the line off your spool inside of 10 seconds. The sheer abundance of these fish — especially the kings and the Spanish macks is providing rallies where even the most diehard fishers are complaining about sore wrists. Anchoring and casting free-lined baits or slow trolling baits are both top producers.
Mangrove snapper are on the prowl around nearshore structure. Hungry mangoes are aggressively motivated to rise to the surface to annihilate free-swimming shiners thrown out as chum. Simple rigs consisting of a few feet of 20-pound fluorocarbon leader and a size 1 long shank hook are resulting in mangrove snapper up to 2 inches. The reason for the long shank is there are Spanish mackerel mixed in with the bite. The snapper don’t seem to mind and that long shank hook will save you from having to tie on hook after hook due to the mack’s razor sharp teeth.
Finally, although they aren’t a migratory species, spotted seatrout are worth mentioning. Fish exceeding 24 inches are being caught with some regularity — and some regularity for 24-inch trout is darn good. Free-lined shiners or artificials such as top water plugs are attracting attention from the rogue trout. Remember most of these big gators are egg-bearing females so a couple in the box is one thing, but don’t go crazy. A picture can worth a thousand words and in this case it could be worth a thousand baby trout.