Plenty of species to be caught before the tarpon frenzy begins

Big tides during the full moon in May have Anna Maria Island fishers filled with optimism as they prepare to get out on the water. 

Fishing inshore for snook redfish and trout is good as long as you know where to fish. 

For the snook and reds, try mangrove shorelines where lush grass flats, oyster bars and good water flow exists. Casting live shiners in these areas is probably your best bet, although if you can find areas clear of floating grass and gumbo, a topwater plug or soft plastic on a jig head can be productive. 

As for the trout the same scenario applies. Live bait is best, but catching big trout on a topwater plug is an exciting experience. 

Moving offshore, blackfin tuna are the highlight for yet another week. If you’re targeting these fish, make sure you eat your Wheaties, as these fish fight hard and don’t give up even after you stick them with a gaff. Other action offshore includes yellowtail snapper and red grouper. Mangrove snapper are showing in good numbers and should be schooling up around the full moon.

And, although the true numbers of fish have yet to arrive, anglers targeting tarpon are finding a few schools of fish while patrolling the beaches of Longboat Key and Anna Maria. The quantities of fish should steadily increase as we approach the full moon in June, so have your tarpon gear ready if you wish to tango with a silver king. 

On my Just Reel charters, I’m seeing good numbers of catch-and-release snook. Most catches are falling 20-24 inches, although some fish exceeding 30 inches are being hooked, too. Redfish are being caught, although not in quantities comparable to snook. Casting live shiners near mangrove shorelines is producing the redfish bite. 

Fishing deeper grass areas is yielding impressive numbers of spotted seatrout, although many fish are measuring just under the keeper-size of 15 inches. We’re catching limits of trout although persistence is required. Mixed in with the trout are

 jack crevalle, ladyfish, mackerel and several blacktip sharks.

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