Just Reel Fishing Charters: Anna Maria Island Fishing Report March 1, 2023

Hot temps results in hot action more fish species

With numerous warm days behind us and more to come, fishing around Anna Maria Island is starting to heat up.

Many anglers are making the switch from using live shrimp to live shiners as bait, which introduces new species into the lineup. 

Snook are finally venturing out of their wintertime hiding places and staging up on the shallower grass flats to enjoy the warmth of the sun. On days when those waters warm beyond 70 degrees, you can bet the snook are motivated to feed. 

Live shiners placed in the vicinity of these snook can be quickly devoured. The same applies for spotted seatrout. These fish are being found on deeper grass flats in abundance. And not only trout are gravitating to the deeper grass areas. You can also find Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and bluefish in the mix which adds quite a variety to the bite. Again, live shiners as bait are working well for these fish.

Targeting sheepshead is also still an option although this bite probably won’t last much longer. You’ll need to have a few dozen live shrimp in the bait well with your shiners if you plan on targeting the sheepies. Live shrimp in a weighted rig with a small, stout hook fished around wrecks, reefs, bridges and piers will usually trigger a response. If the sheepies are being finicky you need to have some fiddler crabs or sand fleas to convince them to bite.

On the calmer days, venturing offshore is proving to be rewarding. Species such as red grouper are being caught with some frequency. Reports of large yellowtail and mangrove snapper are quite alluring to anglers in the know.

On my Just Reel charters, I’m working the deep grass flats for spotted seatrout. Many slot-size fish 15-19 inches are being caught by my clients. While targeting the trout, I’m also seeing numerous Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and bluefish being caught. 

Around structure in Tampa Bay, I’m still catching sheepshead — most are in the 2-pound range.

Finally, on the shallow flats, I’m finding small schools of snook to target.