How long will it last?
For yet another week, fishing around Anna Maria Island remains consistently good for fishing the flats as well as venturing out to the nearshore reefs and wrecks.
Live bait fishing with shiners and pinfish is proving prosperous for a variety of fish.
In the backcountry, snook fishing is still consistent. You only have a few more days before snook season closes on May 1. Even so, you can’t deny that catching snook is one of the most invigorating types of flats fishing there is, even when you have to release them. Rallies of 20 snook within an hour are still attainable — if you’re lucky, that is.
Spotted seatrout are keeping flats fishers occupied. Limits of fish 15-22 inches are fairly common throughout deeper grass flats of Terra Ceia and Sarasota Bays. Free-lined live shiners as bait are top producers if you can get them. If not, topwater plugs at dawn can be deadly, especially on gator trout.
Moving into the Gulf, fishing structure is still a good way to catch some nice mangrove snapper. I’m seeing fish up to 20 inches hitting baits free-lined and baits fished on the bottom. Try using a frozen chum bag to get things going. Then when you see the snapper rising in the chum, start free-lining fresh-cut chunks in the tide. If that doesn’t work, a good old knocker rig should get the job done.
Migratory fish such as kingfish and Spanish mackerel are still patrolling the nearshore reefs. Free-line some big baits such as cigar minnows, large shiners or blue runners behind the boat and see what happens. Make sure your reel has plenty of line capacity as some of the kings are in the 40-pound class.
Finally, keep your eyes peeled for cobia, especially right when you pull up to the spot. These curious fish are milling around artificials reefs and wrecks just waiting for you to pull up and cast a bait in their face. Shiners, pinfish or threadfins will attract the attention of these most sought after fish.