Tarpon remain in the spotlight, but other species still attainable
Tarpon remain in the spotlight for yet another week for fishers near Anna Maria Island.
Talk of Bean Point resembling the famous Boca Grande Pass is becoming commonplace among most tarpon fishers in the area. The sheer numbers of boat present during the morning tarpon bite is the reason for this. Seeing 50 or more boats during this time of year is not uncommon. Also, some of the best tarpon fishing on the Gulf coast of Florida is occurring from the passes of Egmont Key south to New Pass on the south side of Longboat Key. Tarpon along the beaches and passes are ranging between 80-150 pounds with reports of larger fix mixed in. Preferred baits are live crabs, threadfin herring or shiners.
On my own fishing trips with Southernaire fishing charters, we are tackling our share of tarpon. The early morning bite from just before sunrise until about 8 a.m. is producing the most action. Live crabs cast to rolling fish are quickly being inhaled. Most of the fish I’m seeing coming to the boat are in the 100 pound range.
Fishing the flats is proving quite prosperous, especially due to the fact that most everyone is out trying to catch tarpon along the beaches. The outer flats from Miguel Bay south to Rattlesnake Key are producing good numbers of slot-size spotted seatrout. Mixed in with the trout bite are jack crevalle and bluefish — being taken on free-lined live shiners.
Finally, catch-and-release snook fishing is quite productive. Again, I think less pressure due to everyone tarpon fishing is a factor. Many snook in the 20-26 inch range are being caught during morning and afternoon tides. Slot fish are fixed in, but not with the regularity of the schooley-sized fish.
On a final note, gag grouper season opens June 1 and a new size limit is effective the same day. The black grouper and gag minimum size limit will increase from 22-inches to 24-inches total length in Gulf state waters starting June 1, to match recent changes in Gulf federal waters. According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the gag grouper recreational season will be June 1 through Dec. 31 in all Gulf state waters excluding Franklin, Wakulla, Taylor and Jefferson counties (which have their own season from April 1-June 30) and excluding Monroe County (Monroe County follows the Atlantic state season).