Fishing the offshore waters west of Anna Maria Island is offering some great action for those anglers willing to make the long trek out to the deep.
Light, southernly breezes combined with some great tides, are the recipe for success while fishing 30-50 mile out in the Gulf. Catches of migratory fish — African pompano, blackfin tuna, kingfish and amberjack — are being very reported with gusto.
Bottom fishing for snapper is also red hot, with limits of above-average size mangroves and yellow tails being reeled up. And, for the sheer thrill, sightings of whale sharks are becoming more frequent.
Moving inshore, catch-and-release action on snook, redfish, and spotted seatrout is the highlight of the backcountry. But, they may soon take a backseat to the silver king as we delve deeper into May. Tarpon to beginning to make appearances in many backwater areas as well as the deeper grass flats of southern Tampa Bay. In the very near future we should start seeing larger groups in Tampa Bay and in the passes around Egmont key and Bean Point.
But as for now, the shallow water flats action is where it’s at. Casting live baits up against the mangroves is yielding both snook and reds. On deeper grass flats, the spotted seatrout bite is simply on fire. These deeper grass areas are also host to other predators such as jack crevalle, ladyfish and Spanish mackerel. These species are adding a great variety to the bite.
On my Southernaire charters, I’m seeing a lot of snook being caught-and-released. We’ve had a few slot-size catches this week, as well as many fish 20-26 inches.
The catch-and-release spotted seatrout bite is keeping me busy though. Deeper flats are producing really encouraging numbers of fish 15-20 inches. I’m finding trout exceeding 20-inches while targeting snook on shallow grass flats.
As for the reds the bite has been random. I’m catching them, but they’re usually mixed in with the snook we’re catching deep in the mangrove roots.