The leftovers have been consumed, and it’s time to get back into the water

The leftovers have been consumed, and it’s time to get back into the water

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Scott Toland of Anna Maria shows off a clean redfish he caught the morning of Nov. 24 on a live pilchard on a guided fishing trip with Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters. The fish was scheduled to be part of a cook-your-own dinner that night at the Waterfront Restaurant in Anna Maria.

Leighton Toland, 10, of Austin, Texas, shows off her catch — a bruise from a jack crevalle she caught on a morning fishing trip Nov. 24 in Palma Sola Bay. The family fishing trip was supervised by Captain David White of Anna Maria Charters, who helped Layton hook her catch.

Marcus Quinn, 12, of Bradenton shows off his Nov. 20 catch, a beautiful snapper that ate a live pilchard 30 miles from Anna Maria. Marcus was fishing with his family on a charter trip with Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters.

Cooper Koepke, 11, visiting Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, helped guide Grampa Tom Willis, visiting Sheboygan, Wisconsin, to enjoy this 20-inch-long, 6.75-pound pompano from the beach near 65th Street in Holmes Beach. Willis used a 1/2-ounce orange jig with a jig to entice the bite. Senior teammate Rita Willis, left, helped control the spectator. The family was visiting Willis’ father, James Willis, who formerly worked at AMI and now resides at Freedom Village.

With the tryptophan gone and the effects of Thanksgiving overconsumption fully recovered, Anna Maria Island fishermen are returning to the water.

On calmer days, venturing into the Gulf of Mexico is a good bet as migratory species – kingfish, mackerel, bonito and sharks – are readily available to anglers working around the structure.

Artificial reefs are a good bet to check as large schools of bait congregate in these areas.

Other areas, such as hard bottom and edges, can also be thriving.

Although targeting migrating fish with free baits is the most exciting, don’t forget to try bottom fishing. Mangrove snapper, Key West grunts, grouper and kingfish lurk in the depths near the structure. You might come across a few flounder, if you’re lucky.

When the weather is very windy and the sea is rough, fishermen in remote areas look for work.

Fishing in the inland bays – Sarasota Bay north to Tampa Bay – offers opportunities to catch the famous trio of snook, redfish and spotted seatrout. Other species, such as jack crevalle, bluefish, and Spanish mackerel, are found in these waters, providing anglers with a variety of options.

And with water temperatures in the mid to lower 70s, the possibility of pompano should be on your mind. It may be worth doing some drifting and jigging over your favorite areas to target fish.

Low water temperatures make it necessary to carry a few dozen live shrimp in addition to live shiners. When the water temperature drops, some species eat shrimp, and many encounter a species like the pompano, which eats only shrimp. So keep a few in the Flow-Troll bucket among your polishing tools.

Also don’t forget that snook season ends on December 15th. So, if you haven’t got a Ranger-sized snook, you better go after it, because you’re running out of time. This is the last year the snook will be open in December. In 2024, the snook season will end on November 30.

On my Just Reel charters, I spend as much time as possible in the Gulf of Mexico, where kingfish and Spanish mackerel are the main bite, with nice examples being caught of both species. There are bonito and shark in the mix, as well as some unexpected associations on amberjack. Anchoring AJs at depths of 40 to 50 feet in state waters is not common. So we welcome any opportunities to do so.

In the backwaters, I find snook, redfish and trout to be fair, although the bite requires more patience than in the Gulf.

Captain Johnny Mattai of Anna Maria Charters spends most of his time fishing the ledges and reefs of the bay when the seas are calm. Pigfish are a highlight of this bite while bottom fishing with shrimp or sand fleas. Mangrove bass, Key West grunts, and porgies are mixed in.

Fishing live shiners as surface bait in these areas results in kingfish, Spanish mackerel and bonito.

Fishing offshore with matai produces larger kings, as well as catch-and-release yellowtail snapper, amberjack and grouper.

Jim Malfis at Rod & Reel Pier says he sees a lot of incidents happening to anglers using live shrimp as bait. Black and red drum are caught when casting shrimp under the dock on a heavy rig.

Pier anglers may need to use heavier gear
Because some of these fish have an extra opening. Red and black drum that exceed 30 inches can be difficult to trim, especially around barnacle-covered pilings below the dock.

Some snook are fished over and over hatches, which also requires sturdy gear if an angler hopes to have a chance at landing.

For anglers using light spinning gear, migratory fish such as blue runners, jack crevalles, ladybugs, and mackerel are available. Try casting silver spoons or digging tools for binding.

Captain David White of Anna Maria Charters finds good work while working offshore in the Gulf. Mangrove and yellowtail snapper are coiled and find their way into the ice chest. Migratory species such as blackfin tuna and kingfish are also caught while offshore.

As they get closer to the shores, white anglers are having good results with bonito and mackerel, as well as plenty of sharks.

Finally, at Tampa Bay Flats, White puts clients on snook, redfish and jack crevalles.

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

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