Fishing Report March 13, 2016

Windy days producing varied catch

Despite numerous windy days fishing around Anna Maria Island is producing a variety of catches.

Those fishing from the local piers are cashing in on the abundance of sheepshead. Live shrimp, fiddler crabs or sand fleas as bait are allowing even the most novice anglers to bend a rod.

Those fishers choosing to wade the flats are finding spotted seatrout are making their way back to the shallows. Live shrimp under a popping cork or artificials, such as the DOA Cal jig, are resulting in slot-size trout as well as fish over 20 inches.

As for those of us in a boat, strong winds are truly a challenge. You better have a wide variety of spots where you can work because, chances are, half of them will be blown out. This doesn’t mean the fishing is not good. In fact, both flats and nearshore fishing is providing a good bite. It’s just travelling to find fish from spot to spot that makes it a little interesting.

On my own excursions with Just Reel Fishing Charters, we’re managing to end our days with success. Sheepshead are still abundant around nearshore structure, so I’m starting my days targeting the convicts before the winds kick up. Sheepshead up to 8 pounds are being reeled up after taking our offerings of live shrimp. I’m also seeing some hefty black drum as well.

Once the winds pick up and I’ve got respectable amounts of sheepies in the box, I’m taking my anglers to the backcountry.

We’re finding spotted seatrout in depths in 3-6 feet of water, where casting live shrimp, either free-lined or under a popping cork, is producing action from slot and over-slot trout with some consistency. In some areas, the pinfish are pretty bad so you may need to switch to live shiners as bait.

Finally, on the rare occasion the seas are calm, I’m heading out to patrol the bays for tripletail. Smaller fish are fairly common with larger ones occurring every so often. Live shrimp or shiners will attract attention from these prehistoric looking fish. A popping cork is effective for presenting the bait to the fish. I set the cork about 12 inches from the hook to keep the bait in the tripletails face. Persistence is key, they’ll eventually eat the bait — just keep trying.