The return of the king – the silver king returns to our local waters

The long-awaited migration of tarpon to the waters surrounding Anna Maria Island is beginning to occur, although the real push of fish has yet to arrive. 

Targetable schools are here, but are spread out quite thin. 

That’s not to say they weren’t being caught this past week, but just not as frequently as they could be. 

I imagine in the weeks to come, we should see a big influx in numbers of fish. Although the large numbers of tarpon have yet to arrive, the sharks don’t seem to have noticed. Daily sightings of hammerhead and bull sharks are being reported. Some of the hammerheads are exceeding 15 feet in length and the bulls aren’t far behind. 

Seeing these majestic creatures in their element is truly fascinating. That is, as long as you’re not swimming in the water. Seeing them from a boat or the beach is much less unnerving. 

So as the tarpon population increases in our waters, you can expect to see more large sharks. 

On the flats, catch-and-release action on snook and trout is dominating the bite. Finding clean water is key to getting in on this action. Areas where clean water exists usually have good tidal flow, lush grass flats and are free from floating seaweed and other debris. Casting live shiners as bait is proving to work best for the snook. As for the trout, casting soft plastics on a jig head is working well. 

Moving offshore, blackfin tuna are the highlight for yet another week. Other migratory fish such as kingfish, African pompano and Cobia are being found. Bottom fishing for snapper is resulting in many mangroves and yellowtails. Red grouper are being reeled up from the depths, too. 

On my own excursions with Southernaire charters, I’m finding the catch-and-release snook action quite exhilarating. Fishing swift tides in areas where clean, clear water exist is resulting in many catch-and-release snook for my clients. Casting live shiners around mangroves and oyster bars is proving to work best. Most snook catches are following 20-26 inches. 

As for the trout, deeper grass areas are holding good numbers of fish. Strong incoming tides seem to be the best when targeting these buck-toothed fish. Live free-lined shiners or soft plastics are luring the trout to the hook.