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Monday, May 21, 2018
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Offshore reefs hold abundance of fish

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 Ray Markham has lots of tips for offshore fishermen this week: “Running out of Sarasota, the group of ‘M’ and ‘D’ artificial reefs are fish magnets. D-3 and D-4 in 103 to 105 feet of water offer grouper, snapper, kings, cobia, amberjack, tunas, and loads of ’cudas this time of year.”

Markham said permit anglers should check MD-1, M-6, M-7 and M-8. These reefs also often hold cobia, and both species readily take live crabs, he said.

Markham said inshore, from now through May, is prime time to catch a grand slam of snook, reds and trout on artificials, and Markham is one of the prime lure-fishing guides on the west coast. He said a “super slam,” adding tarpon to the above species, is also a definite possibility as April turns to May.

He said pompano action remains good around Big Sarasota Pass, Sarasota Bay’s Middle Grounds Flats, Bunces Pass and Pass-a-Grille Channel. A yellow ball style hair jig, a Nylure Pompano Jig, and Doc’s Goofy Jigs are the standard artificials, but live or blanched sand fleas are the top natural baits for pompano here; www.captainraymarkham.com.

Captain Van Hubbard reports lots of Spanish mackerel in the Venice area, both on the beaches and up inside in some areas, all eager to grab small live sardines or threads. He said kingfish had not arrived, but he’s expecting them any day; www.captvan.com.

In fresh water, captain Angie Douthit reports bluegill and shellcracker time has arrived on Okeechobee, and anglers casting live worms or crickets on ultra-light spinning gear can expect to catch a fish fry promptly; www.southfloridabassfishing.com.

Also in fresh water, the St. Johns River chain continues to turn out lots of fish. Schoolers are reported on Lake George inlets and outlets, and some anglers are catching and releasing close to 100 small bass a day from these aggregations.

Tribune correspondent Frank Sargeant can be reached at [email protected]

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