Fishing around Anna Maria Island not only offers a wide a variety of species to catch but also a wide variety of weather. If you’ve been out in the boat or fished from the shores of Anna Maria Island this past week, you know what I’m talking about. I’ve seen everything from calm, clear waters to rough cloudy waters, monsoon-like rainstorms to sunny skies on my adventures on the water. It’s like packing a week’s worth of weather into a four-hour fishing excursion. And despite all the weather changes, the fishing has been pretty darn good. Inshore fishing is definitely good for a variety of species including spotted seatrout, Spanish mackerel, catch-and-release snook and especially mangrove snapper.
With the arrival of hatch bait or small shiners, the snapper have moved into the bays and Intracoastal Waterway with a vengeance. This being said, any rock pile, dock, bridge or pier will be holding these delectable fish — they’re even all over the flats. And they love eating hatch bait. Scale down your leader size and hook size to target these guys and you’re in business. Also, remember that the minimum size is 10 inches and you can keep 5 per person.
On my charters with Southernaire, I’m definitely targeting snapper. Not only do these fish put up a good fight on light tackle, they are also one of the best when breaded and fried. They make a killer ceviche too, I might add. And with the abundance of them in our waters, it’s kind of a win-win. Good action, good eating. This week I’m seeing of limits of these tasty fish being reeled up with most 12-14 inches. That doesn’t mean some aren’t smaller and some aren’t bigger. Mixed in with the snapper bite are flounder and juvenile grouper.
Moving onto the flats, spotted seatrout are the most abundant. Free-lined shiners cast over flats of 3-5 feet in depth are quickly being devoured by hungry seatrout. Ladyfish and Spanish mackerel are also present, which adds some variety to the bite.
Lastly, catch-and-release fishing is still going strong around the passes. Snook sessions exceeding 20 fish in an hour are common. And what’s even better is I’m seeing a few redfish mixed in with the bite.