Warmer weather brings on hot action inshore, offshore 

Fishing inshore around Anna Maria Island is nothing short of exceptional for yet another week. And what’s encouraging is it seems to be getting better as we approach the summer. 

Catch-and-release spotted seatrout have invaded the deeper grass flats in great numbers — providing great action on light- to medium spinning gear. Most catches are 12-18 inches with larger fish up to 24 inches in the mix. 

While targeting the catch-and-release trout, anglers are enjoying hooking into a variety of other species including bluefish, jack crevalle, ladyfish and Spanish mackerel. With the abundance of all of the species on the flats, you can bet to experience some great rod-bending action on your next adventure on the water. 

And it doesn’t stop there. 

Fishing the shallower grass flats for catch-and-release snook is also in full swing. Schooley-size fish 20-26 inches are cooperating nicely when offered free-lined live shiners. With water temps in the mid to upper 70s, the snook are quite feisty when on the hook. Numerous jumps and drag-screaming runs across the flats are why these fish hold such an adoration with inshore fisherman. And, lucky anglers are finding some slot-sized catch-and-release redfish mix in with the snook bite. Most catches are 20-25 inches. These fish are especially apparent when fishing areas where oyster bars exist. 

Moving offshore, mangrove snapper are becoming more prevalent ass our water temperatures rise. Fish up to 9-pounds are being caught around structure and hard bottom while offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. And, if you know about mangrove snapper you know a nice a 9-pounder is a force to be reckoned with. Better have your stout gear ready to stand a chance against one of the large mangoes. Red grouper are being caught while offshore, especially around Swiss cheese bottom and ledges. Lastly pelagics such as blackfin tuna and amberjack are being caught around offshore wrecks. 

On my own Southernaire charters, I’m finding the flats fishing for catching spotted seatrout to be quite fulfilling. During swift incoming tides, I’m seeing anywhere from 20-40 trout coming to the boat while fishing over deeper grass flats. Mixed in are some Spanish mackerel — and a bonus this week we had several cobia and a couple tarpon take baits. It’s always a shocker when you’re expecting to set the hook on a trout and instead it turns out to be a 40-pound tarpon. Not a bad trade off. 

As for the cobia, all were under-size but still a fun catch when fishing in 5 feet of water. 

Catch-and-release snook fishing along the mangroves is keeping my clients busy. Most are 18 to 24 inches, although a couple slot-size fish are managing to slip into the lineup. I’m also excited to see some catch-and-release redfish mixed in with the snook bite.

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