Anna Maria anglers are getting their money’s worth, thankful for the fall bite

Anna Maria anglers are getting their money’s worth, thankful for the fall bite

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Jana and Jaro Varcholova of Bradenton show off two kingfish they caught Nov. 16 using live tackle in the Gulf of Mexico during a guided fishing trip with Capt. Johnny Mattai of Anna Maria Charters.

As fall approaches, Anna Maria Island anglers take to the water to take advantage of the abundance of migratory fish in the waters, including Spanish mackerel, kingfish and bonito.

Many fishermen are determined to get out despite moderately rough seas and some rainstorms on a series of stormy days.

Rigging and handling live shiners have proven effective, although some anglers choose to slow-fish with live tip-fin herring or artificial baits such as spoons and lipped plugs.

Kings are being reported in the 20 pound range, as well as several in the 10-15 inch range.

The mackerel and bonito are of normal size.

Be prepared for shark encounters while targeting kings, mackerel and bonito, as they are all on the “favorite” list of blacktips and spinners.

Moving toward shore, snook, redfish, and spotted perch are found throughout the backwaters. A live shiner as bait while working the flats is your best bet. If you are fishing piers and canals, try live shrimp. Redheads go crazy for fresh live shrimp when they land in front of their noses.

Fishing on the ledges and offshore reefs also offers plenty of opportunities, including catching Key West grunts, mangrove snapper and a few pigfish. Live shrimp are the preferred bait of most anglers, as the shrimp will attract hogfish to the hook.

Jim Malvez, of Rod & Reel Pier, says he’s seeing good action for migratory fish, such as Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle and ladyfish. The best bite occurs when large schools of bait congregate around the pier. Pier anglers casting silver spoons, spot rigs or Gotcha plugs get the best results.

The switch to using live shrimp for bait at AMI’s North Pier is also stirring action. Anglers casting shrimp under the dock around pilings are hooking black drum, redfish and sheepshead. Anglers who want to take home a fish dinner will be happy to see any of these fish at the end of the line, as they are all very good on the plate.

Also, reports of keeper snook being caught by pier anglers appear here and there. Anglers using larger lures, such as a pinfish or small beetle, have the best performance in Tampa Bay waters.

Captain David White is hard at work, serving up a fall meal for his charter customers. Migratory species such as bonito, kingfish and Spanish mackerel are the norm.

White says he sees quite a few sharks with a bite and that customers love it. Most predatory species occurrences occur within a mile of shore on Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. A live shine freely placed among many friends does the best work.

As he moves inshore, White searches for snook and redfish for his clients along Tampa Bay’s mangrove-lined beaches as far south as Sarasota Bay. Some redfish action occurs around residential docks and canals, where he says live anglers or live shrimp are their first choice for bait.

Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to Fish@islander.org.

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