Tropical Storms and bad etiquette can ruin a day of fishing
Fishing around Anna Maria Island is proving to be slightly challenging in the wake of Tropical Storm Emily.
Our clear emerald green waters are now the color of iced tea — since we are in the south I guess its “sweet tea.” Anyway, persistence and having an arsenal of spots to investigate is key to finding a bite in the aftermath of one of these storms. The fish are still here, you just have to know where to find them. Start off with the pattern you fished prior to “the blow” and if you strike out, start branching out from there. Eventually you’ll find a bite and if you don’t you can always just say, “I guess they’re not biting.”
On my own excursions with Southernaire, I’m managing to find some fish. Some spots are working, and some aren’t. In the spots that are producing I’m watching my clients reel up some nice flounder up to 20 inches as well as mangrove snapper and some keeper gag grouper. Needless to say, I’m fishing structure.
On the flats, I’m finding spotted seatrout and Spanish mackerel accommodating, although I feel the bite will greatly improve once the water clears up. There are mangrove snapper on these deeper grass areas, which are a welcome sight among the trout and mackerel. Kind of a “mixed bag” you might say.
On a final note, I’d like to touch upon the topic of etiquette on the water. Now I know this is a wide and vast area of discussion that could fill volumes of text so I’m just going to write about a specific incident I experienced recently while fishing a small, not so very well-known rock pile in Tampa Bay.
I was anchored up just minding my own business, smiling as I watched my clients reeling up snapper and mackerel. The action was pretty good and boy were they due — the morning bite up to then had been a bit of a struggle. The bite commenced when out of the corner of my eye I noticed a boat in the distance making way in my direction. I recognized the boat and wondered why the “captain” was heading straight at me. He got closer and closer so I instructed my clients to reel up and take a little break. At least this way it wouldn’t look like we were catching much. Well, within a minute or so this guy was 20 feet off my bow checking his machine and hitting the “man overboard” button in an attempt to acquire a new spot. Without even making eye contact with me, he marked a couple spots and quickly motored away. Rather than making a scene and cussing and yelling, I sat there, the incident festering in my brain like a rusty screw being hammered into my head.
I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I had heard this “captain” had a reputation for stuff like this, but never gave it much thought until now. My clients knew what had just happened and could tell I was holding back the anger. They had some choice words for him and I know I could never get published so we won’t mention them.
I calmed down and we continued to catch a few more fish and then it was time to head to the dock.
Now it when the story gets really good. On our way in we spotted the boat that had so rudely barged in on us and stole the spot. As we went by him, we watched as he pulled his anchor and headed directly to where we had just been. I felt nauseous and anger at the same time, but I had to keep a smile on my face as to not ruin my clients’ experience. So I steered the boat home to the Mainsail Marina and filleted a mess of fish for my happy customers. Another great day on the water, huh?
This being said, I think visiting anglers should do a little research on the captain they choose to take them out for a day of fishing. Asking the locals is a great way of doing this. They’ll know who the captain is you have in mind and whether they are a rat or a respectable fisher. And always ask an outside source— not the guy that’s trying to sell you a charter. Those of us with good reputations will welcome the feedback. Those who don’t, know why.