Anna Maria Island has been busy and the fishing has been continually heating up with the weather as we saw several days this past week in the 80's. The water temperatures have been holding in the 73-74 degree range and the fish have been active.
On our inshore/nearshore fishing charters we have been catching a variety of species: snook, redfish, spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, mangrove snapper, sheepshead, gag grouper, key west grunts, and some black sea bass. Kingfish have shown up in full force offshore as well and that should last through the next few weeks.
When targeting snook, we have found them just about everywhere: deep in mangroves, on the edges of Tampa Bay, and some have even started showing up along the beaches. We have been using 20-40lb fluorocarbon leader with size 2-2/0 circle hooks depending on where we are targeting them. Live greenback pilchards don't last long when thrown in the vicinity of fish right now. Redfish can also be found in the same areas and along nearshore rockpiles with our biggest coming in at 40" and 35 lbs.
Large jack crevalle and some nice size gag grouper have also been around with our largest gag coming in at 31" caught in only 14 feet of water. I use 40 lb. fluorocarbon leader and size 2/0-4/0 hooks for these and have caught them on large greenbacks and cut ladyfish.
Spanish mackerel are also starting show up in Tampa Bay and we have seen some good size already this year. I prefer to use 20 lb. fluorocarbon leader tipped with 40lb. fluorocarbon to combat their toothy bites while still allowing you to pick up other species without changing out your rigs.
Mangrove snapper and key west grunts can be found around structure in the bay and the nearshore reefs and wrecks. I use 15-20lb. fluorocarbon and size 4 circle hooks for these guys and still prefer to target them with shrimp although the snapper will readily take a shiner as well.
With high season in full swing, look for the fishing to pick up and the fun to continue on Anna Maria Island!