Fishing Report May 15, 2024

Fishing Anna Maria May 15, 2024

Plenty of species to target while waiting for full swing tarpon season near Anna Maria

As Anna Maria Island anglers anticipate tarpon season, they’re finding themselves with some idle time on their hands while they wait for the mass numbers of fish which have yet to make an appearance. 

Resident fish are beginning to show in their usual staging areas as they prepare to meet up with the migratory fish that are moving up the coast as we speak. 

Areas such as the Sunshine Skyway bridge and the north side of Egmont Key are a couple of the staging areas worth checking out if you just can’t wait for the encore show of fish. Anglers who are patiently awaiting the days when patrolling along the beaches can lead to encounters with school of 50 fish or more are finding themselves targeting different species in the backcountry and the Gulf to pass the time before the main event occurs. 

In the backcountry spotted seatrout are the most reliable catch.

Fishing deep grass during incoming tides can result in mornings of 20-30 trout, not to mention encounters with other species including bluefish, jack crevalle and ladyfish, which are also present in search of a meal. 

If you find patches of grass holding only smaller trout, try moving around as you may come across a school of larger ones, which can yield a limit of fish in no time. 

On the shallow flats, snook and redfish is an option although the consensus among the fish community is that we are not seeing the snook numbers we should be seeing this time of year. Doing your homework could result in finding some smaller groups of fish to target. You may not catch 30 or 40 juvenile snook in the morning but you might catch a few quality slot-size fish. 

Catching redfish is also kind of hit or miss. The reds are in a variety of places from oyster bars and mangroves in the backcountry to the clear, Gulf waters along the beaches and passes. Consider nearshore and offshore action while waiting for the tarpon bite to heat up. 

Migratory fish, such as kingfish, bonita, cobia and Spanish mackerel are being caught within a couple of miles of the beaches. And with the migratory fish come sharks so carry some bigger gear if that’s something you’re into. 

Offshore red grouper and mangrove snapper are prowling the ledges and hard bottom areas. Pinfish for the grouper are the bait of choice but scale down in size to live shiners for the snapper. 

This being said there’s plenty of good fishing to be had prior to Tarpon run. If you have the time to go out there and find it. 

On my Just Reel charters of Anna Maria, I’m finding great action fishing the deep grass flats of Tampa Bay.

Hungry spotted seatrout are quickly striking free-lined live shiners. Mixed in are macks, jacks, ladyfish, bluefish and small blacktip and sandbar sharks. These are the perfect recipe for a continuous bite. On some days it’s every bait. 

Targeting snook and redfish in the backcountry is OK but it’s requiring patience. Most snook catches are 20-26 inches while the redfish seem to be falling within the slot of 18-27 inches. Swift tides are producing the best action for these species. 

On calmer days, I’m fishing in the Gulf around ledges and hard bottom which is leading to flounder, mangrove snapper, lane snapper and Key West grunts — perfect fish fry materials.