Migratory, pelagic species focus this week
With the fall bite in its early states, you can bet Anna Maria Island angers are anxious to get out on the water and get in on the action.
Migratory or pelagic species are the highlight so far. Kingfish, Spanish mackerel and bonito can be found in the Gulf of Mexico around the wrecks and reefs as they ravage bait schools that are gathering along the coast. Anchoring and chumming with live baits is a good bet to get hooked up and if you don’t mind burning some gas, slow-trolling baits is an option.
Be prepared to encounter other species such as ladyfish and jack crevalle as well as numerous sharks. Blacktip, spinner and sandbar sharks can’t resist getting in on the action when schools of Spanish mackerel and bonito are present. You’ll know the sharks are there when you end up reeling in a mack that is bitten in half. If you’re out there searching for the fish, look for shorebirds such as terns and sea gulls as they are a dead give-away that bait is in the area. And, if you can find the birds, the chances of finding the fish are pretty good.
As far as what gear to bring, there are chances of hooking up with all sizes of fish ranging from Spanish mackerel to sharks so you’ll want an assortment of tackle. The same applies for your terminal tackle — long shank hooks and wire leaders are a good idea when hunting for toothy fish and all of these fish have teeth. Do your homework and get the proper gear so you’re not just out there donating hooks as you get cut off on every other fish.
Finally, make sure the smoker is ready to go when you come home as you’ll probably want to slap a big kingfish on there for some fish dip.
On my own Just Reel charters, I’m cashing in on the pelagic bite as much as possible. It’s not only fun but the thrill of catching these fish for the anglers is most entertaining to watch. Kingfish, mackerel and bonito are the primary catch. On the flats, snook and trout are still a mainstay.