Visitors flock to Anna Maria Island waters in hopes of a hookup

As the tarpon bite is now in full swing, anglers from all over the world are visiting Anna Maria Island with hopes of an encounter with the elusive silver king.

Fishing the Gulf beaches of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key as well as the passes at Bean Point and Egmont Key is providing great action for those who like pulling on big fish. Live bait offerings such as pass crabs and threadfin herring are producing the best action although other options such as live pinfish or shiners also are working. Average sizes being reported are 60-120 pounds, although larger fish are in the mix.

Moving to the flats, the catch-and-release bite is still going strong despite the rising water temps. Catch and release snook are in abundance on shallow grass flats where mangroves, oyster bars and good water flow occur. The same applies for catch-and-release redfish, which are frequently being caught while targeting linesiders. Spotted seatrout are also present on the flats, although not shallow like the reds and snook. Deeper grass areas are producing the best numbers, especially during strong, incoming tides.

Lastly, offshore fish is proving to be quite good with catches of permit and African pompano being reported.

Mangrove and yellowtail snapper are being taken in respectable numbers, especially around ledges and hard bottom. And don’t forget gag grouper season is now open for recreational anglers.

You can get your American red snapper fix taken care of if you’re accompanied by a reputable federally permitted charter captain. If you wish to go out on your own as a recreational angler, you’ll have to wait until June 11.

On my Southernaire fishing charters, I’m enjoying the tranquility of the backcountry now that everyone is out in search of tarpon. Targeting catch-and-release snook is yielding 20-30 fish per trip with some fish in the 32-inch range.

Catch-and-release redfish are in the mix, which is a welcome sight.

Fishing deeper grass flats is resulting in numerous catch-and-release spotted seatrout with some coming in at 22 inches.

Lastly, wreck fishing is heating up for mangrove snapper. On some mornings, I’m seeing 18-inch snapper being reeled up.

Lastly, Spanish mackerel are producing great light-tackle action around structure in Tampa Bay.

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