Tarpon remain the main attraction around Anna Maria, but plenty of other species taking the hook

Tarpon are the main attraction for yet another week around Anna Maria Island. 

Fishing around the Gulf beaches and in the passes of Passage Key inlet and Egmont Key is producing some stellar action. Live past crabs or live threadfin herring seem to be the go-to baits, although switching presentations may not be a bad idea as the bite wears on.

I have found that live pinfish will work when the tarpon are hanging close to the bottom, especially in the passes. And there’s always the “anchor up and chum” method, which consists of cutting up threadfin herring and starting a chum slick. This method is effective, especially when the tarpon are not as active as they could be. And hey, let’s face it, a hookup is a hookup.

With the opening of American red snapper for commercially permitted charter captains, reports are pouring in. Limits of these tasty snapper are being caught daily. And with gag grouper also being in season, you have the opportunity to catch two of the best tasting fish that swim in our waters. 

Also offshore are yellowtail and mangrove snapper, as well as some permit. 

On my Southernaire charters, I’m still following the catch-and-release snook bite around Tampa Bay and its surrounding waters. Swift moving tides shortly after sunrise are producing a great bite on these popular backcountry fish. Free-lining live shiners around mangroves edges where deep water exists is where I’m seeing the best action. Most snook landings are 22-26 inches, although I’ve had a few fish over 30 inches. 

Spotted seatrout are being caught and released by my clients with regularity. Deeper grass flats where clean swift currents are flowing are producing the best action. Again, free-lined shiners are my bait of choice. 

After spending a couple hours on the flats, I’m switching tactics, and move into deeper water. Fishing rock piles and wrecks in Tampa Bay is proving to be good for Spanish mackerel and mangrove snapper. For the macks, a live shiner combined with a longshank hook is a good bet. As for the snapper, a 1/2-ounce knocker rigs is working well.