Fishing Report February 28, 2018

Sunshine and light breezes perfect combination for success

The quality of fishing continues to increase as warm sunny skies and light breezes surround Anna Maria Island.

Backwater species — snook, trout and redfish — are gradually making their way back to the grass flats in the bays, rivers and Intracoastal Waterway. Live shiners as bait are eagerly being taken by all three species. Also present inshore are ladyfish, bluefish and Spanish mackerel which add a welcome variety to the list of species to be caught.

Fishing near the beaches and passes is providing good action. Pompano, permit, whiting, black drum and sheepshead are all present in these areas and can’t help but eat a fresh-cut piece of shrimp strategically placed on a hook.

Venturing offshore is yet another option — and a good one at that. Cobia, tripletail, amberjack and big permit can be found around the wrecks and reefs. Hogfish, Key West grunts and numerous varieties of snapper are found around ledges and hard bottom.

On my own charters with Southernaire, I’m patrolling the beaches and passes for pompano and permit. Being two on my favorite species to catch, it’s hard not to target them when they are around. Casting small jigs tipped with fresh-cut shrimp is working well.

Sheepshead are also present along the beaches as well as around structure in Tampa Bay. Not only do these zebra-striped fish put up a relentless fight, they’re great eating, too. I guess any fish that grazes on crabs and shrimp all day should taste pretty good, right? When beach fishing the sheepies, I’m finding whiting, redfish and black drum mixed in. When targeting them on the reefs, numerous mangrove snapper and Key West grunts are being caught.

Lastly, casting jigs over the deep, lush grass flats of Sarasota Bay is producing some great spotted seatrout action. A 1/4-ounce jig head combined with a MirrOlure Lil John soft plastic is working great. Top-water plugs are working well on the shallower flats for large, over-slot trout.