Anna Maria IslandFishing Report September 27, 2017

Weather, fishing improve after Hurricane Irma   

For most of us the chores that follow a storm, such as Hurricane Irma, can be long and lengthy. It’s kind of hard to say, “honey, I’m going out fishing for the day.” When your yard is full of fallen tree limbs, sections of fence blown down, boarded up windows and no power. Trying to pull that one off would probably result in not being on speaking terms with your significant other by the time you got back. By now, most of the chores are done, the power is back and the cable is back on so you can and watch Bay News 9 again. Now that things are close to back to normal, I guess it’s time to go fishing. And let me tell you ­—  the fishing is good right now.

On my recent Just Reel fishing charters I’m finding an abundance of spotted seatrout. On some flats my clients are rallying on trout where catches of 30 or 40 fish are not uncommon. Now, that’s all fine and good however, probably half of these fish are just under 15 inches —  the minimum size limit. But hey, it’s great action and there are still a few fish to put in the cooler for trout dinner later that evening.

Fishing structure in Tampa Bay is proving to be action-packed. Spanish mackerel are being found around wrecks and reefs, providing great action on light tackle.  And I’m finding more and more anglers are interested been eating a few for dinner, especially if they’re from the UK.  To keep these toothy fish on the line I’m using some 30–pound fluorocarbon as leader tied to either a No. 4 or No. 2 Eagle claw extra-long long shank hook.  In areas where the water is dark and stained from the abundance of freshwater flowing out of the Manatee River, the No. 2 hook will work. In clearer conditions, the No. 4 is the best choice. While free-lining shiners for the mackerel I’m seeing an occasional mangrove snapper or grouper take the bait, which is always a welcome surprise.

Lastly, the snook bite is ever-improving on the flats. Remember, the water temperatures are slowly declining which in turn is triggering those linesiders to start moving off the beaches and out of the passes and onto the flats to gorge themselves before winter. We are in the early stages of this, but you should see more and more fish as we near October in the beginning of November.

On a final note, I hope everyone fared well during hurricane Irma. I believe it could’ve been a lot worse so we need to count our blessings that we only had to deal with a category 2 storm. This one was definitely an eye-opener. An emotional roller coaster of sorts. Anyway, always remember that we Floridians are strong and even in the wake of disaster we help our friends and neighbors like they are our family.