Rain leads to interesting catches in local waters
Fishing around Anna Maria Island remains consistent for a variety of inshore species.
Fishing deep grass flats during time of good tidal flow is producing rallies of spotted seatrout. Live shiners free-lined or under a cork are the bait of choice. Determination is key if targeting slot-size fish due to the vast amount of under-sized fish inhabiting the flats. Rallies of 30 trout or more are not unheard of, although you may only catch a few fish in the slot of 15-20 inches. Mixed in with trout are mackerel and ladyfish, which adds a little variety to your catch.
Mangrove snapper are also in abundance in our local waters. Whether you’re fishing the nearshore reefs in the Gulf of Mexico or in Tampa Bay you should come across these feisty little reef dwellers. I’m even seeing them on the grass flats. Deeper grass areas where fry bait is present are good places to look. If you’re having trouble getting the snapper to bite, try scaling down your leader and hook size. I’m using 15-pound fluorocarbon with a No. 4 size circle hook. You can go lighter if you like but the 15-pound fluoro seems to be working well.
Lastly, if you’re looking for something exotic to catch, you may want to venture over towards the mouth of the Manatee River. While fishing morning low tides I’m seeing dozens of gar cruising the flats around the Bulkhead. Now, gar are a freshwater species so we normally don’t see them in salt water. This being said, I think the vast amounts of rain out in East Manatee County forces the Manatee River to flush out more freshwater than normal. This abundance of fresh water flowing out of the river must push the far out into our waters. Places to look are the southern shoreline of the Manatee River from DeSoto National Park to Robinson Preserve. These gar are curious so a number of baits will work including shiners, pinfish and cut bait such as ladyfish.