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Anna Maria Island Fishing Report: August, September, and October 2018

"So where have the AMI fishing reports been?!"

It's a question I have been getting a lot lately as I'm sure that many are trying to track the red tide and how it has been affecting our fishing here on Anna Maria Island. The lack of reports was a mix of season winding down, a vacation back to my stomping grounds in Montana to chase some trout on the fly, and (you guessed it) red tide. And, while the red tide here on Anna Maria Island has affected the fishing a bit--and isn't necessarily what we hope for this time of year--we have been making the best of it!

The key to fishing when we have red tide in the area, no matter the year, is to find clean water. Right now most of the clean water is a ways offshore (beyond where we run our charters) and in Tampa Bay and to the north of the island. Note: you can follow local red tide updates here.

In the areas of Tampa Bay that remain clean, redfish have been around in pretty good numbers as they are beginning to school up with the main key being finding the school. But when you do, they tend to be chewing pretty well. A lot of these are bull reds too which are an absolute blast on light tackle. Depending on the size of fish and school, I like to use 20-30lb fluorocarbon leader with size 1/0 through size 2 hooks. You can still find a good amount of bait in Tampa Bay around the skyway and I like hooking them through the nose and freelining them into the school while chumming or throwing dead cut-bait. For chasing the reds on artificial tackle, my favorite lure is a gold spoon on spinning tackle and a Dupree's spoon or crab pattern if throwing a fly (you can find these flies at AMI Outfitters on Pine Ave on the island).

There have also been some lingering tarpon around Anna Maria Island on the flats and a good number of juvenile tarpon in the Manatee River, if you can find them. I prefer live bait for these guys, and they are hard to beat on light tackle. If throwing a fly, I recommend baitfish patterns--you'd be surprised with how small a fly these guys will take so don't feel as if you have to throw serious meat patterns at them.

Mangrove snapper remain the most consistent catch as of late around docks, structure, and rock piles in Tampa Bay. Frozen hatch-bait works well, as does shrimp and live bait, but I have liked the small bait as of late. Use 15lb. leader and a size 2 or 4 hook and have some fun with these guys...and they are delicious to boot! (just make sure the water around you is clean if you plan on keeping your fish).

But, with all of that said, and I know I'm the anomaly, I can't begin to tell you how excited I am that bonito (aka false albacore, little tunny, etc.) season is just around the corner! Soon the temperatures should begin to slowly fall and the kingfish will start running and also the bonito, which are one of my absolute favorites on light tackle and the fly. With initial runs that will have you into your backing before you hardly realize you've got a fish on and iridescent colors lining their backs that pictures don't do justice--they are one of my favorite fish as far as light tackle sport is concerned!

So if you find yourself down here on Anna Maria Island, give us a call or visit our website to book online and I look forward to seeing you!

Tight lines!

Capt. Scott

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