Fishing Report April 18, 2018

Outbreaks of spotted fever surround Anna Maria Island waters

Fishing around Anna Maria Island is causing anglers to see spots before their eyes – and the spots are on the spotted seatrout.

The local grass flats stretching from the Sunshine State Skyway Bridge south to New Pass are being invaded by the famous spotted seatrout.

The popularity of these fish not only emerges from the fact that they are good eating but also their eagerness to take a bait. Whether using live bait such as shrimp or shiners or artificial such as soft plastics or top water plugs, most anglers can usually get a trout to bite.

What is special about this month is that the trout are preparing to spawn, which in turn, means there are some particularly large specimens available to be caught. Most trout catches normally fall 12 to 18 inches with an occasional fish making it to 20 inches. During this spawn, fish 20 inches or larger are quite common which is a real treat for trout enthusiasts. These 20-plus inch trout or “gators” as we call them really bulk up in size compared to their smaller counterparts. They also put up quite a fight feeling much more like a redfish on the red of the line than a trout.

Now, as far as tablefare, I like the slot-size fish better for eating. Fish 15-20 inches tend to have a sweeter meat than those 20 inches and above. Also, most fish over 20 inches are spawning females full of eggs. This being said, I always let these fish go, and encourage my clients to do the same. When targeting trout, I like to see a few components in the water. For one, clean semi-clear water is a good start. Next, lush grass flats such as those that exist in Sarasota Bay are a must. Trout love to lurk in the grass — it helps to camouflage them from their prey. It also creates a great ambush point and can hold food such as shrimp, pinfish and shiners.

Lastly, spots where good flow exists will usually hold fish. Incoming tides seem to work best for me, but that depends on the spot I’m fishing.

As far as baits for trout, live shiners or shrimp work great, although my all-time favorite is the Mirrolure 84 MR top-water plug. Trout are notorious for exploding on baits at the water’s surface and the Mirrolure does a great job of triggering this response. There’s nothing better than working that lure along the surface of the water — click, click click —only to have a monster trout come up and inhale it in a loud slurping sound — it’s the best.

So, if you’re looking from some great action close to shore, get on out there and catch some trout.