Springtime fishing around Anna Maria Island remains strong.
Fishing the grass flats of Tampa Bay south to Sarasota Bay is host to a wide a variety of species. Catch-and-release spotted seatrout are making a showing over deeper grass flats during swift incoming tides. Finding areas where the tide is rushing over shallow flats and dumping into deeper flats is a good bet. Anchor up current and drift a live shiner over the edge of the shallows into the deep and hang on. You’ll find other predators such as Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle and bluefish that also like this scenario. These other fish add some variety to the trout bite and if you like eating Spanish mackerel, you’ll have an opportunity to put a few fish in the cooler.
Catch-and-release snook are not shy about making their presence known. Shallow flats along mangrove shorelines and oyster beds are holding respectable numbers of linesiders.
Early morning top-water action with a MirrOLure 84 MR is leading to some explosive strikes. As the sun gets higher, switching over to live shiners as bait is keeping the bite going. As a bonus, the live shiners also are attracting some slot-size catch-and-release redfish.
Moving offshore, kingfish are being caught in the 8- to 10-mile range. You might find a few in close around the artificial reefs 3-7 miles offshore.
Moving out further, bottom fishing for grouper and snapper remains consistent. Keeper-size red grouper are quickly inhaling live pinfish on a bottom rig. For the snappers, live shiners on the same rig will get the job done.
On my Southernaire charters, I’m targeting catch-and-release spotted seatrout in Tampa Bay. April is typically good for the larger trout — 20 inches or bigger. I’m using circle hooks on these larger trout to prevent gut-hooking them. These larger trout are the breeders so we try to handle them as delicately as possible. While catching the trout, we’re having a lot of hookups with Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle and ladyfish. Fishing shallower flats up against the mangroves is resulting in some great catch-and-release action. Most catches are 20-30 inches.