Well, here we are. It’s 2017.
Although it’s supposed to be wintertime, our weather is resembling springtime. And so is the fishing. With day after day of mild temperatures and calm seas the fishing around Anna Maria Island is nothing better than excellent. Offshore and nearshore fishing are proving to be exceptional with catches of cobia, kingfish, grouper, snapper, hogfish etc. — the list goes on. And fishing inshore is following the same suit. Snook, redfish and spotted seatrout are being caught with regularity due to the mild conditional.
On my own excursions with Southernaire Fishing charters, I can’t help but feel like it’s spring break on the water. The water clarity is nothing short of “as clear as it gets.” Fishing offshore in depths of 45-55 feet is resulting in many fish including mangrove snapper, yellowtail snapper, porgies, white grunts and grouper. As we are catching these fish you can peer over the gunwale and see what’s on the end of your line 40 feet below the surface. That’s some clear water.
In the backcountry, the conditions are the same. Trolling through the deeper flats in waters of 5 to 10 feet deep you can look down and see every blade of grass and every little shell. It is almost hypnotizing — like you’re peering into another world that is not visible to the naked eye. Now, that being said, such clear waters can make backwater fishing slightly challenging but I’ve been lucky enough to find rallies of both spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook. Catching spotted seatrout this time of year isn’t unheard of, but finding rallies of snook on the flats in January is something to celebrate. And the snook are feisty and healthy-looking. There is not cold water to slow them down and make them sluggish to bite.
Also, I’m finding pompano and permit along the beaches and throughout the grass flats. The larger concentrations of fish seem to be along the beaches while on the flats I’m just seeing small groups of fish scattered.
On a final note, I guess we should celebrate where we live and be thankful for the tropical-like conditions we are experiencing during our mild winter. We need to remember that we live around some of the best fishing grounds on the Gulf coast of Florida — second only to our neighbors to the sound in Charlotte Harbor. And so far the fishing this winter is definitely proving that statement.
Happy New Year to all and may your lines to tight and your fishing rods bent.