Fishing between storms leads to big hookups on the flats, Rod & Reel

If you can find the time to go fishing between anticipated hurricanes, Anna Maria Island is host to a number of good species to catch.

Fishing around the Rod & Reel Pier seems to be productive with anglers hooking into over-slot catch-and-release redfish, as well as some large catch-and-release snook. 

That being said, “hooking into” and “landing” are two different things.

  You can tell the pier regulars by their fishing gear. And if they’re targeting those big reds and snook, you better believe they’re doing it with stout rods and reels spooled up with heavy braided line. Trying to wrestle a big snook or redfish out from the barnacle encrusted piling is not child’s play. There’s a lot of skill involved and always a little bit of luck. And, if and when they do get a big fish into the open water, ole Jimmy Malfese is standing by with the landing net.

I bet Malfese has landed more big fish than anyone on that pier. He’s also quite adamant about handling the fish gently and releasing them quickly, so they can go back and make baby fish.

Now, for anglers looking to get out on a boat and do some bay fishing, catch-and-release spotted seatrout are available. You can find Spanish mackerel and lady fish in the same areas. Try fishing over deep grass flats in water depths of 6-8 feet. Free-lining live shiners will produce the best action, although artificials such as soft plastics or small jigs will work, too.

Dock fishing is producing action on some big catch-and- release redfish. Casting chunks or fresh-cut ladyfish is attracting the bull reds to the hook. You just have to know the right dock to fish.

Lastly, mangrove snapper are being caught around structure in Tampa Bay — reefs, wrecks, rock piles and residential docks — and you should be able to muster up a few of these tasty fish.