Weather cooler, temps drop, migratory hookups increase

Water temperatures have dropped slightly around Anna Maria Island but that doesn’t mean the fishing is cooling off.

Migratory fish such as Spanish mackerel, jacks and ladyfish are swarming the nearshore structure of the Gulf of Mexico and in Tampa Bay.

If you’re looking for some great light-tackle action, these fish can accommodate you. As for eating fish, the jacks and ladyfish are worthless, but macks can be quite good if you know how to prepare them. 

My favorite preparation is to smoke them and stir up a batch of smoked fish dip. And speaking of firing up the smoker, I’m happy to note kingfish are making a showing around structure in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as in the shipping channel in Tampa Bay. Slow-trolling with live threadfin herring on a stringer will work, or you can speed it up by trolling with lipped plugs. 

Catch-and-release action on snook, redfish and trout is going strong for the sports anglers as free-lining live shiners is attracting all three species. Soft plastics on a jig head are working, especially for the trout.

Moving offshore, yellowtail and mangrove snapper seem to be the most consistent catch. Bottom fishing with live shiners is attracting a bite. Red grouper and gag grouper are being caught in this fashion More toward the surface, offshore fishers are enjoying action on blackfin tuna, blacktip sharks, barracuda and a few cobia.

On my Southernaire charters, I’m targeting the macks and mangrove snapper in the Gulf and in Tampa Bay. While mackerel fishing, I’m noticing quite a few large blacktip sharks charging through the area, and I’m taking advantage of the opportunity, putting clients on the bite. 

Moving inshore, catch-and-release snook, trout and redfish are keeping my clients busy.