Anna Maria Island Fishing Report March 13, 2024

Spring nears, back country fishing heats up

With springtime right around the corner, Anna Maria Island anglers are anticipating excellent backcountry fishing. 

With a slightly cooler winter than normal, the snook are beginning to creep out of their wintertime haunts and are eager to feast on live shiners. 

Although the large quantities of linesiders have yet to make a showing, there are some available to be targeted. 

After a string of warm days, snook are biting during morning tides. While targeting them after a cold front is requiring some patience — at least until a little later in the day — you may find schools that are eager to take a bait. Other school are a little apprehensive — those are the fish you may need to wait until later in the day. 

Targeting spotted seatrout is beginning to heat up as more and more fish are staying on the grass flats as the springtime bait schools are arriving. You can target these fish a variety of ways with both live bait and artificials. 

Live shiners or shrimp cast into sandy potholes is usually a great way to start. If you’re using artificials, soft plastics on a jighead or topwater plugs can be effective. 

And, while you’re targeting the trout, there are opportunities to hook into other species as well, depending on your bait. Ladyfish, jack crevalle and mackerel are present on some of the deeper grass flats, so casting live shiners could be favorable. 

If you’re casting jigs, or live shrimp, or a combination of the two, there’s potential to hook into pompano. 

Redfish are a targetable species in the spring as they are starting to frequent the mangrove shorelines in search of a meal. 

Casting live shiners in these areas can trigger the reds to bite. You can still find reds around rocks and docks, when casting a live shrimp as bait can be the key to success. And don’t forget there are still sheepies and black drum lingering in these areas and they just love a live shrimp offering. 

On my Just Reel charters, I am carrying both live shiners and live shrimp as bait to be prepared for any situation. 

Targeting trout with live shiners results in a fairly consistent bite. Casting baits into sandy potholes, or deeper grassflats is resulting in many hookups. Mixed in with the trout bite are ladyfish, jacks and Spanish mackerel. 

Targeting snook with live shiners is producing good action, and as a bonus I’m seeing a few reds mixed in from time to time. 

Switching over to shrimp as bait works well when working structure in the Gulf of Mexico. Sheepshead, mangrove snapper and juvenile grouper are making up the bite. 

I’m also seeing a few cobia taking interest in the shrimp. 

Lastly, some flounder are available while fishing the artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico.