Dodge rainstorms to stay dry and to hone in on the fish

Fishing around Anna Maria Island is proving to be quite good as long as you’re willing to dodge the frequent rain showers — and I mean frequent. Actually, the numerous showers are brief which is kind of nice because they cool everything down a little.

Just remember to watch for lightning. When you see it, it’s time to turn the other direction. Holding a fishing pole in your hand is about just as good as holding a lightning rod. Not good if you plan on fishing again tomorrow.

Inshore fishing is producing good action on spotted seatrout, Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper and plenty of shark. For the trout and the macks, free-lining live shiners over deep grass flats is the ticket. As for the snapper, rocks and docks are where it’s at. If you’re looking to hook into something more substantial, the shark bite is fairly consistent. Fresh-cut chunks of Spanish mackerel will do the trick. Expect to encounter blacktip, bull and hammerhead sharks.

Moving offshore, reports of American red snapper remain steady in depths of 120-150 feet of water. Red grouper, mangrove snapper, permit and cobia are taking the hook in varying depths and terrain. Finally, bonito and Spanish mackerel are present as well.

On my Southernaire charters, I’m targeting a variety of species while fishing inshore. Around the passes, catch-and-release snook action is at its best. Free-lined live shiners are like candy to these fish. Most catches are 20-26 inches although larger fish are mixed in.

Mangrove snapper are being caught inshore specifically around channel edges and docks and now even on the flats. Near limits of these fish are attainable. And speaking of the flats, spotted seatrout, bluefish and Spanish mackerel are present on the deeper grass flats of Tampa Bay. Lastly, catch-and-release shark fishing is great with numerous blacktips 4-6 feet long being caught. An occasional bull or hammerhead is also taking the hook.

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