Accuracy is key when targeting species near mangrove shorelines

Fishing around Anna Maria Island is productive if you don’t mind fishing in the wind.

Fishing inside Tampa Bay, tucked up close to mangrove shorelines is producing some good fishing for catch-and-release snook. You can find a few catch-and-release reds mixed in. You want to target these areas during the higher stages of the tide in order to be able to approach the mangroves. Casting skills are a virtue, as these snook and redfish will be hiding under the roots and branches. They have it made in the shade. 

And if you can’t cast accurately, in that shade, you might as well go do something else because they won’t come out to chase a bait. If this is the case, you’re in luck. Fishing the deeper grass flats in open water is productive for catch-and-release spotted seatrout. Free-lining live shiners in these areas is resulting in many trout as well as Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle and ladyfish.

On days when the winds are lighter and the seas are calm, it’s in your interest to investigate the nearshore reefs in Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The structure in the bay is host to mangrove snapper and gag grouper, as well as Spanish mackerel. Fishing structure in the Gulf provides much of the same action, but the macks are more abundant and larger than those in the bay. You can add some black tip sharks to the mix, too.

Moving farther into the Gulf, mangrove and yellowtail snapper are being caught while bottom fishing around ledges. Offshore wrecks and springs are producing good action — especially for amberjack, kingfish and permit.

On my Southernaire charters, I’m enjoying action on the catch-and-release snook along the mangrove shorelines of Tampa Bay. Most catches are 20-26 inches, but the sheer numbers of hookups makes targeting these fish exciting. I’m seeing a few catch-and-release redfish mixed in with this bite.

Meanwhile, deeper grass flats are producing some trout, although the wind has clouded up the water so I’m having to do a little searching. 

On calmer days, I’m heading into the Gulf to get in on the Spanish mackerel bite, which is on fire. We’re hooking into macks just about every cast. Large blacktip sharks are in the area, too, and readily taking whole, legal-size macks free-lined behind the boat on a wire rig. The biggest blacktip hooked this past week on my charters was pushing 6 feet.

Lastly, for those looking to fill the cooler, I’m working structure in both Tampa Bay and in the Gulf, where mangrove snapper and Key West grunts are the targeted species.