Fishing Report March 6, 2017

The common snook — a common hookup for area anglers

With snook season now open, anglers from far and wide are visiting Anna Maria Island with hopes of hooking into the most famous of the famous among the back country — the common snook.

Encouraging numbers of fish are making a showing in their typical springtime spots from the Sunshine State Skyway Bridge south to Sarasota. “Snook candy” or scaled sardines are the bait of choice when targeting snook. Rumors of “snook rallies” are reaching respectable numbers during morning sessions. Slot and over-slot fish are being taken occasionally, which makes the catch that much more rewarding. A trophy, you might say.

On my own Just Reel fishing trips, I’m finding good numbers of snook around shallow grass flats and around mangrove shorelines where good tidal flow is occurring. Free-lining live shiners as bait is resulting in multiple hook ups, especially during the late morning incoming tides. Most catches are falling between 20-24 inches with bigger fish mixed in.

I’m also catching plenty of sheepshead to finish out their season. All of the hype about snook fishing is really taking the pressure off the sheepies, which can result in some great fishing.

Live shrimp on a 1/2-ounce knocker rig with a 3/0 circle hook are attracting sheepshead up to 6 pounds. Most catches are 2-3 pounds, which are prefect fish-fry material.

Lastly, spotted seatrout are rounding out the day. Live shiners or live select shrimp are working great for these flats favorites. Slot and under-slot fish are frequent with an occasional fish over 20 inches finding its way into the landing net.