Fishing Report May 15, 2018

The return of the silver king – Tarpon return to Anna Maria waters

With the recent arrival of tarpon, I’d say the plate is now full for anglers visiting and fishing around Anna Maria Island.

Although the bite is just beginning, the smell of tarpon is in the air. It’s time to dust off your tarpon tackle and make sure everything is in good working order. There is no fish in our waters that is harder on tackle than the silver king, so make sure you’re covered.

Other fishing around Anna Maria is as follows. Inshore, spotted seatrout are still a mainstay. Stunning numbers of fish over 20 inches are being caught while live bait fishing. Don’t forget, you want to throw these big females back so they can procreate and insure our trout bite for the future. Plus, those big trout aren’t as good to eat as the smaller counterparts in the 16-to 18-inch range.

Catch-and-release snook fishing is proving to be another hot topic. This is the time of year to find them cruising the shoreline along the Gulf beaches. And that means sight-casting. There is not a more exciting way to target these fish. Plus, you have opportunities to cast at some large fish in the 40-plus inch range. And come to think of it, while you’re fishing the beaches, don’t forget to bring a pompano jig. These elusive little gold nuggets can be found cruising up and down the shoreline foraging on sand fleas and coquinas. If the snook aren’t cooperating, you’ll have to suffer with pompano – oh darn.

Fishing offshore is following suit with the inshore bite. Fishing wrecks and reefs is providing good action on a variety of fish including permit, mackerels, amberjack, blackfin tuna and bonito. Catch all of these in one day and you’re earned your stripes. Not to mention some serious bragging rights.

On my own fishing excursions with Southernaire fishing charters, I’m concentrating on catching big trout in Sarasota Bay. The largest so far is 28 inches and I’m looking for a 30-incher. Most trout are falling in the slot of 15-20 inches with larger fish mixed in. While targeting the trout, I’m also finding bluefish, Spanish mackerel and jack crevalle in the mix.

Catch-and-release nook fishing is providing good action for my clients. Fishing the flats is resulting in some good fish, but fishing the beaches and passes is proving to be even better.

Lastly, fishing around the artificial reefs is resulting in mangrove snapper and many Spanish mackerel. Both are being caught on live shiners. Large barracuda also are present, which adds some variety to the action.