Red tide looms to the north and south, clean water a must for fishing success

Fishing around Anna Maria Island is sporadic at best while the black cloud of red tide looms to our north and south. 

With reports of toxic levels of red tide to the south of Anna Maria Island and toxic levels to our north in Tampa Bay, putting a good bite together is challenging at best. 

Finding areas clear of red tide is attainable, especially in the southern half of Tampa Bay — from the Skyway bridge southwest to Bean Point. Also, the western shorelines of Terra Ceia and Miguel bays seem to be clear of any red tide. 

But, these conditions are changing daily — wind and tides play major roles in moving patches of red tide throughout the bay and its adjacent waters. You may find fish one day and the following day come to find red tide has chased everything out. Or worse yet, killed it. Perseverance and a little luck are required while fishing the days to come.

On my own charters, I am finding catch-and-release snook fishing to be a lifesaver. I’m finding small groups of snook in areas where water is free of red tide. Mangrove shorelines during morning outgoing tides are producing decent numbers of snook in all size ranges. I’m even seeing snook 20-30 inches responding nicely to free-lined hatch bait. This bite is requiring a little chumming to keep the fish motivated. 

Mixed in with this bite are some mangrove snapper. These fish are a welcome sight for anglers who wish to bring a few fish home for dinner. Surprisingly, some of these “flats” snappers are measuring up to 15 inches. 

Spotted seatrout are rounding out the inshore bite for me. These fish seem to be highly sensitive to the influx of water quality, which in turn is making them move more frequently. As a result, these fish require a little searching in order to find a good concentration. One day they are in a spot, the next day they are not.

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