Anna Maria Island Fishing Report April 2, 2017

Fishing around Anna Maria Island is finally settling into nothing short of exceptional with Just Reel fishing charters. Whether fishing inshore for snook, reds and trout, or venturing offshore for permit and kingfish, anglers are returning to the dock with smiles of their faces — and plenty of bragging rights.

Fishing the flats for snook is nothing short of wide open. Free-lining live shiners is resulting in rallies of fish. Chumming is helpful, although not necessary, as there are so many snook around. With the water clarity being comparable to drinking water, light fluorocarbon leader and smaller hooks are a must.

On my charters with Just Reel fishing charters, I’m finding success with 20-pound leaders and size 1 Owner hooks. This will suffice for catching the schooley-size fish ranging 20-26 inchers. When expecting to encounter slot or over-slot fish, I’m using at least 30-pound leader and sometimes even 40-pound.

Spotted seatrout have invaded the local flats from Miguel Bay, south to Sarasota Bay.  From up in the tower, I’m peering into sandy potholes and seeing amazing numbers of these most famous flats dwelling fish. Free-lined shiners, cast into these potholes is resulting in many slot-size trout of 15-20 inches, as well as quite a few in the 24-26 inch range.

Finally, dock fishing for redfish is proving to excite my clients. Casting large shiners, pinfish and even cigar minnows under docks is resulting in redfish up to 33 inches. In these areas, I’m using heavier leaders up to 40-pound test due to the barnacle-crusted pilings. Ultimately, even with 40-pound leader, you’re still taking a chance. The razor sharp barnacles will cut your leader like butter if the fish runs around them. If nothing else, the heavier leader gives the angler a little more confidence when trying to pull big fish out from under the dock.