Weather cools, but old man winter can’t chill AMI fishing – The Anna Maria Islander

The cool down we’re experiencing might be enough to put us into a winter-fishing pattern.

Most local anglers who fish inshore are migrating toward local canals and docks in search of a bite, because the waters in these sheltered areas are a few degrees warmer than open waters. This warmth attracts the fish. Snook, redfish, black drum, snapper and sheepshead all gravitate toward these areas, even if the waters are only a degree or two warmer. If you’re lucky, you may stumble upon a large concentration of fish at one dock when there’s only a nibble at another.

Also, certain canals and specific docks will hold fish year after year. So go out, do your homework and try to keep a record of your spots for the next fishing trip.

Following the pattern, Capt. Aaron Lowman is working inshore around residential docks and canals. By using live shrimp as bait, Lowman is putting his clients on a fair share of fish. Casting live shrimp under docks is resulting in sheepshead, black drum and redfish. Also, an occasional flounder or catch-and-release snook is taking the hook.

Fishing along the beaches is resulting in a bite. Jack crevalle, blue runners and especially pompano are being caught on Lowman’s boat by using small jigs tipped with shrimp.

Capt. Warren Girle is working offshore on days when the seas are calm. By fishing ledges and hard bottom, he’s finding a bounty of catch-and-release gag grouper. Although it’s a shame to have to throw back these tasty fish, anglers are enjoying the sheer veracity of their fight once hooked. Girle’s clients are hooking into mangrove snapper, porgies and Key West grunts as they fish the ledges.

Moving inshore, Girle’s fishing canals and docks to find warmer water. In these areas, casting live shrimp is proving to produce the best action. Redfish and catch-and-release snook are the most likely to bite, although black drum, sheepshead and mangrove snapper are taking the hook.

Capt. Jason Stock is running inshore on days when the wind is blowing. By fishing the flats of Sarasota Bay and beyond, Stock is finding spotted seatrout and redfish for his clients. Canals and docks as well as deeper flats are hot spots for Stock and live pinfish and shrimp are his baits of choice.

Moving offshore on calm seas, Stock is catching many catch-and-release gag grouper. In the same areas, he’s finding flounder, porgies and mangrove snapper. Amberjack are present offshore, which can be quite entertaining for local and visiting anglers.

Steve Leonard at the Rod & Reel Pier says sheepshead are beginning to make a showing. Although it’s still a little early for large concentrations of sheepies to appear, pier anglers are reeling up a few to take home for dinner. Live shrimp are producing a bite as well as small crabs, sand fleas and tubeworms. Mixed in with the sheepshead bite are black drum, redfish and flounder.

Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters is fishing inshore along the Intracoastal Waterway and the local bays. Fishing around the area bridges is proving to be good for mangrove snapper and a few sheepshead. Also, fishing deeper potholes on the flats for redfish and black drum is providing White’s anglers with some action. Live shrimp is White’s bait of choice.

Fishing offshore for amberjack is a good bet on calmer days, when White is finding a variety of fish, including amberjack, bonito and a few kings.

Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

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