Big fish of all kinds aren't tough to find
GO FISHING is a look at the area fishing scene through the eyes of local charter boat captains and fishing guides. Today: Frank Sargeant. Captain Sergio Atanes reports catching some of the biggest Spanish mackerel in his fishing career last week, with one more than 30 inches long and two at 28 inches, plus lots of other big ones, all in relatively shallow water inside Tampa Bay on live threadfins. Atanes also reports good catches of keeper-size gags and mangrove snapper from wrecks and private artificial reefs inside the bay. "It's a short boat ride and we don't have to worry about the summer weather," says Atanes (www.reelfishy.com). Captain Ray Markham reports catching big trout in lower Tampa Bay, with his best a 27-incher. Markham said deep grass flats are the place to go. Best lures are DOA Shrimp, CAL jigs with shad tails and MirrOlure MirrOdines. He said the best bites have come around the mouth of the Manatee River as well as in Terra Ceia and Miguel bays. Cooler parts of the day will move the gator trout shallow to feed, said Markham. He also noted snook are hanging around the passes and larger sloughs as well as along the beaches — these cuts will be particularly good in the evenings as the new moon creates a strong outgoing flow, says Markham (www.captainraymarkham.com). Though murky water has been a problem for snook anglers along the beach, any calm day can produce some bites from big fish anywhere between Anclote Key and Marco Island — look for rock groins and swash holes washed out by the recent storms as areas likely to hold fish. It's easiest to see the fish from about 9 a.m. to noon. Live sardines or shrimp are the sure way to catch these fish, but they also take swimbaits, jigs and topwaters, particularly early in the day. Some anglers are catching nice fish on glass minnow flies, as well.Captain Van Hubbard reports good mixed-bag action on the near-shore reefs from Venice to Boca Grande, with Spanish, mangrove snappers, gags and the occasional barracuda offering steady action on live sardines. He said snook fishing is fair on the inside, with reds and trout scattered but catchable (www.captvan.com). In fresh water, look for flowing creeks, culverts, swamp sloughs and river mouths — bass are in these locations after heavy rains — the Clermont Chain has a number of these locations, as do the Kissimmee and Harris chains. Topwaters offer a good dawn bite, while flippin' worms and crawfish do the job later in the day.
Tribune correspondent Frank Sargeant can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org