March welcomes warm weather, clear waters, great fishing
Fishing around Anna Maria Island keeps getting better and better as the days grow warmer and the waters remain clear. Fishing the lush grass flats that carpet the surrounding bays and Intracoastal Waterway is proving to be nothing less than exceptional. Snook season is now open and the snook have all but invaded the shallows with an unmatched presence. Free-lining live shiners in areas where the snook are present is making even the most novice anglers feel as if they were pros.
Spotted seatrout also are taking up residence on the flats, although they prefer slightly deeper water. Sarasota Bay, a 15-minute boat ride south from Anna Maria Island is host to some world-class trout fishing spots. With a majority of the bay ranging in depths of 4-8 feet, trout find it most hospitable. So do the eager anglers that fish there on a daily basis.
On my own excursions with Southernaire, I’m taking advantage of both the snook and trout bites. For the snook, I’m fishing morning incoming tides around spoil islands. In these areas, the current seems to wrap around the little islands creating great staging points for the hungry linesiders. Most catches are 20-26 inches, although a few bigger fish are being caught by lucky anglers. As for the trout, I’m finding respectable numbers of 12-16 inch fish in deep potholes and troughs throughout Tampa bay. I’m also finding large “gator” trout up to 26 inches but these fish seem to be rogues — solitary fish roaming shallow grass flats in search of a meal and probably a mate, too.
Other species showing up on the flats include jack crevalle, ladyfish and bluefish — all of which are mixed in then targeting trout on the deep grass flats. I’m also seeing a few flounder on the end of the line, especially around channel edges and in the sandy potholes.