For finicky fish carry an assortment of baits to ensure hookups

Tarpon seem to be the main attraction in the water surrounding Anna Maria Island for yet another week. Many anglers are suffering from tarpon fever due to spending hours and even days on the water attempting to get a hook up. Schools of fish are being found cruising the beaches of Longboat Key, Anna Maria Island and Egmont Key. There are fish gathering in the passes as well. 

Tarpon can be finicky so carrying and assortment of bait isn’t a bad idea. Typically, pass crabs and threadfin herring are enough to get the job done, but sometimes you need to mix it up a little. Casting pinfish or chunks of ladyfish will also work — especially if the tarpon aren’t dialed in on crabs or threadfins. 

Fishing the flats of Tampa Bay is producing good action for inshore anglers. Catch-and-release snook are feeding during swift moving tides. Don’t be surprised to hook into a catch-and-release redfish while targeting the snook, as they are both foraging in the same areas. Deep grass areas are holding good numbers of catch-and-release trout. Finding good water is key to getting on this bite. Areas where the water is murky or stagnant are not holding fish. Clear, moving water over deep grass is best. 

As far as offshore fishing goes, migratory fish such as amberjack and blackfin tuna are the highlight. Casting live baits over structure is attracting these high-speed fish to bite. Bottom fishing is proving to be pretty good for red grouper, yellow tail and mangrove snapper.

On my Southernaire charters, I’m finding good action while fishing inshore. Catch-and-release snook are being fairly accommodating as long as the tide is moving. Most catches are happening around mangrove edges and oyster bars. Fish 20-30 inches are the norm. Targeting catch-and-release spotted seatrout is providing a lot of fun for my clients. Working deep grass areas is resulting in many trout 18-20 inches. Mixed in are some big Spanish mackerel as well as some ladyfish and jack crevalle.