Venture into the Gulf for consistent bite, variety of species
Anna Maria Island anglers are finding themselves venturing into the Gulf of Mexico to find a consistent bite.
Fishing structure anywhere from along the beaches to around 9-10 miles seems to be producing the best action as cool water temperatures seem to have slowed down the bite in the back waters of the Intracoastal Waterway and its surrounding bays.
Using live shrimp as bait on a bottom rig works well in the Gulf, although finding structure is crucial on finding a bite. Whether it be wrecks, reefs, ledges or hard bottom areas you’ll need something down there to attract and hold fish in targetable quantities. Most catches occurring in these areas mangrove snapper, sheepshead and Key West grunts. These species will typically be found in the shallower areas. But if you venture out further you can add hogfish, porgies, red and gag grouper and triggerfish to the list.
For those willing to venture out farther than 10 miles the outcomes are endless as to what you’ll find. Amberjack, African pompano and blackfin tuna are being found as well as red grouper and mangrove snapper.
Now if you’re solely a backwater angler don’t feel left out. Fishing docks with live shrimp is yielding sheepshead, black drum and redfish. You may need to be patient as the bite is slightly slower than the bite in the Gulf.
Fishing the passes with jigs for pompano is also a good bet, plus there’s a chance you’ll hook into jacks and ladyfish to add variety to the bite.
On my Just Reel charters, I’m spending most days in the Gulf of Mexico. Light breezes and calm waters are a great recipe to get out and fish the reefs and ledges. In these areas I’m seeing a variety of fish being caught including sheepshead, mangrove snapper, Key West grunts and hogfish. Triggerfish are in the mix as well as plenty of juvenile red grouper.
On the windier days when I’m confined to the backwater we are catching redfish, black drum and sheepshead.