The fall bite around Anna Maria Island is really starting to settle in. Fishing along the beaches for migratory fish — mackerel and kingfish — is about as good as it gets. You can expect to encounter schools of bonito and vast amounts of sharks while fishing this bite. Live shiners on a long shank hook are working the best for the kings, macks and bonito, although trolling spoons or lipped plugs will work, too — especially for the bigger kingfish. As for the sharks, fresh-cut chunks of bonito or legal-size mackerel are like candy right now.
The fall bite is also occurring in the backcountry. Fishing the flats of Tampa Bay is producing plenty of the catch-and-release trio — snook, redfish and trout. I believe we need a couple of good cold fronts to really get this bite going though.
But as of now it’s pretty good. You’ll notice more fish in the typical staging spots as the water temps consistently drop a few more degrees.
On my own Southernaire charters, I’m fishing for both migratory fish along the beaches and catch-and-release species along the mangrove shorelines of Tampa Bay. The mackerel bite along the beaches is simply unbeatable right now — baits are being eaten within seconds of being cast out. And with the kings, bonito and sharks present the bite is exhilarating.
On the flats of Tampa Bay, I’m finding good numbers of snook and redfish. Most catches are occurring during the higher stages of the tide. The same applies for the catch-and-release spotted seatrout. Deeper grass flats during high tides are producing the best action on these buck-toothed species.