Late fall fishing on Anna Maria Island and in the surrounding areas may be one of my favorite times of year to fish here. The water temps have dipped into the 70's and the fish activity has picked up immensely in Tampa Bay. Right now we can chase just about everything from snook, redfish, trout, jack crevalle, and mangrove snapper inshore to triple-tail, mackerel, bonito, and kingfish nearshore (although we still need another good cold front or two to really get the nearshore fish moving in numbers).
I have personally been staying inshore as the bite has been the most consistent there as of late. Some bruiser snook and redfish are still cruising the beaches and that has been the center of my attention. We have been chasing snook and redfish on the fly, as well as with live bait, cut bait, and artificial lures.
Look for mangrove lines with a good current to find plentiful amounts of snook back in Tampa Bay. During lower tides we have been fishing out on the edges looking for 'pot-holes' (sandy patches surrounded by grassy bottom) where the snook are laid up waiting to ambush their next meal. Conversely, push up as close as you can into the mangroves during the high tides to find the bruisers laying in wait.
When throwing live bait for the snook, I am using 20# fluorocarbon leaders on 15# braid with size 2 circle hooks. Shiners are still my go-to live bait, and a steady amount of chumming will get the fish fired up. For artificial lures, I have been using 40# test with a red/white Spook Jr. or the 3-1/2" LiveTarget swimbait shad. With the Spook Jr. make sure to walk the dog, but a lot of our success has come after casting and letting it sit for a good 3 or 4 seconds before giving it one twitch and letting it sit for another second before we walk-the-dog back in. A lot of the strikes have been on the first twitch after having let it sit which provides for some awesome top-water action! For flies I have been throwing various bait-fish patterns in white and chartreuse and have found that presentation trumps all right now. If you get your fly in the right spot, you will get an eat!
For the redfish, I have been chasing them on fly and artificial only while site-fishing for them. The schools have varied in size, but there are some nice fish out there for sure! The key is stealth when sight-fishing and when a school is spotted, I have been making sure that our positioning is as good as we can get it before we start casting because once you spook the school, it's a pain tryin to find them again (trust me, I know). With 20-30# leader, depending on the size of the fish, we are throwing the LiveTarget swimbaits and white and chartreuse flies (with a tuft of red) and have been having good success--not a whole lot beats watching a fired up school of redfish chase your fly and getting to watch the eat!
For triple-tail, you need to run the crab buoys and look for them hanging out just underneath and slightly down-current of the buoy. Toss a shiner with the tail cut off or your fly just up current of the buoy and be prepared for an easy eat, fun fight, and delicious meal; not a whole lot beats a grilled triple-tail sandwich paired with a cup of seafood gumbo!
Again, fishing on Anna Maria Island and in Tampa Bay this time of year is tough to beat, so get out there and wet a line. Call or book online today!