As tarpon arrive, expect crowds on the water

The waters surrounding Anna Maria Island are on the verge of being even more crowded than normal.

With the arrival of tarpon, you’ll see quite an increase in boat traffic around the passes and along the beaches.
Although tarpon season is in its early stages, there are fish beginning to make a showing, and in the weeks to come we should see a large numbers of tarpon congregating along the beaches of Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key and Egmont Key. And especially in the passes of Bean Point and the north side of Egmont Key.
Moving to the flats, catch-and-release snook are still a mainstay. Casting live shiners along the mangrove shorelines is proving to be a good bet if you’re looking to hook into a linesider.

On the shallower flats, I’m seeing large schools of smaller snook measuring 20-26 inches. As for the larger slot-size and over-slot fish, areas that have mangroves that are accessible to deeper water seem to be best.

Catch-and-release redfish are being caught along the shallower grass flats and are usually mixed in with the snook bite.
Targeting spotted seatrout over deep grass areas is still consistent. Most trout are slot-size with a few coming in larger than slot. Fishing structure in Tampa Bay is providing action, especially for Spanish mackerel. As for the offshore bite, blackfin tuna, amberjack and African pompano seem to be frequently taking a bait offering. Sailfish are present offshore but require some searching if they are solely what is being targeted.

Bottom fishing is proving to be good for red grouper and mutton snapper as well as yellowtail and mangrove snapper.