If you can take the heat, there is plenty of good fishing around Anna Maria Island.
Whether you like inshore fishing, offshore fishing, big fish, fish you can eat or all of the above, it can be done.
Reports from the offshore guys sound promising, especially for American red snapper. In fact, they’re saying it’s hard to keep the red snapper away from the bait. Other fish being caught offshore include yellowtail and mangrove snapper and red grouper and some African pompano.
If being out of the sight of land is not your fancy, there is plenty of action in close on the flats. Fishing mangrove edges and shallow grass flats is producing great action for catch-and-release snook. You should also encounter a few catch-and-release redfish in the mix. Catch-and-release spotted seatrout are a good bet, especially on deeper grass flats during strong, incoming tides. Fishing shallow water structure in Tampa Bay is another good bet. The first signs of the mangrove snapper bite are happening as well as Spanish mackerel and some keeper-size gag grouper.
Lastly, if you’re looking for something big, you can target tarpon along the beaches of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. And, if you find the tarpon, there’s a good chance you’ll see some big bull sharks or hammerheads, which can put up quite a fight.
On my Southernaire charters, I’m enjoying the catch-and-release action on the flats of Tampa Bay. Both the snook and spotted seatrout are responding nicely to being solely catch-and-release. While trout fishing, I’m seeing a lot of larger trout —18-22 inches — being caught by my anglers, which is a welcome sight. As for the snook, catching 20-30 in a morning trip is attainable, even this late in the year. While targeting the snook, I’m seeing some redfish mixed in, but not enough to be impressed. Maybe with the recent restocking programs and releases, we’ll be seeing better numbers in the future.
Fishing structure in Tampa Bay is proving to be good for Spanish mackerel and mangrove snapper. With the arrival of hatch bait, I anticipate the snapper bite to get better over the next few weeks.
Lastly, there are still a few gag grouper around structure in Tampa Bay. Free-lining live pinfish or using a knocker rig with a pinfish is resulting in some keeper-size fish.