Head out on the water to socially distance and hook up with a variety of fish

Amidst the dark cloud over our heads called COVID-19, many visitors and locals are finding the best place to be is out on the water surrounding Anna Maria Island. 

What better way to stay away from the crowds than a peaceful morning of fishing in the clear waters of Tampa Bay and beyond?

Fishing the inshore waters is yielding good action, despite the record-breaking air and water temps we are experiencing. Morning fishing is proving to be best, especially for catch-and-release species such as snook and redfish. As the day heats up, fishing deeper flats for catch-and-release spotted seatrout is quite productive. And as a bonus, the deeper grass flats are host to a variety of other species right now — Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, jack crevalle and especially mangrove snapper. In fact, the snapper seem to be everywhere right now. Limits of these feisty little fish are being caught regularly by patient anglers smart enough to scale down their leader and hook sizes as to trick these wary fish into biting. 

Moving offshore, anglers willing to travel to the depths are being rewarded with yellowtail snapper and mangrove snapper as well as permit, amberjack and groupers. Numerous sharks are present offshore too, so reel up those snappers quickly before they get chomped.

On my own Southernaire charters, I’m targeting the catch-and-release snook and reds first thing in the morning, while the waters are still slightly cooler from the darkness of night. Casting free-lined shiners around mangroves, oyster bars and residential docks is yielding some good numbers of fish. 

As the sun rises and begins to warm the waters, I’m moving to deeper grass flats to target catch-and-release spotted seatrout. Mixed in with this bite are Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, jack crevalle and bluefish — and best of all are mangrove snapper. These little guys are everywhere right now and I am enjoying watching limits be reeled in by happy clients who anticipate having a fish dinner.

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