Guide bites

Capt. Mike Manning, 727-243-8918: Capt. Mike says the trout fishing doesn’t get a whole lot better than it’s been the past week. He’s been working around the spoil islands of St. Joseph Sound with jigs and plugs, taking fish to 24 inches. The holes and grassy patches on the back side of Anclote Key have been producing many up to the same size. His anglers took a couple of pompano while jigging for trout, so he suspects the fish are likely spread around some of the flats now. To target them, work jigs on or near the bottom. Bluefish are around and schooling.

Nick Stubbs

NICK STUBBS

Capt. Josh Fritz, 352-345-9304: Capt. Josh says he’s finding excellent trout fishing from Fillman Bayou north. Fish are over the limestone bottom in shallow water when the tide is up, dropping into holes nearby when the tide is down. He’s doing best with a slow–sinking MirrOdine plug in clear-gold color. A slow, twitching retrieve is drawing the strikes on the sink. Reds are hanging around the same rocks when the water is up. Offshore, the targets have been mangrove snapper and hogfish. The best action has been between 22 and 25 feet of water over hard bottom. Jigs baited with shrimp and bounced on the bottom are getting it done. There are lots of schooling mackerel in around 10 feet of water over hard bottom. Large sheepshead are starting to gather over the limestone bottom in the same depths.

Tackle shop roundup

Armed Anglers, 727-945-1808: Capt. Griff says the pompano bite has been good, and anglers are reporting them far and wide on the flats rather than just around the Anclote power plant outfall. Trout fishing has been good, and there seem to be plenty of reds around flooded mangroves, oyster bars and rocks. Offshore anglers traveling 40 miles out have been taking some large mangrove snapper and land snapper. There are plenty of sea bass and grunts for those fishing shallower.

One Stop Bait and Tackle, 727- 842-5610: Joe reports his anglers have been doing well with fish for the pan. They’ve been going for sheepshead and mangrove snapper with shrimp, but also working the 10- to 15-foot depths for silver trout off the islands. Lots of Spanish mackerel are on the flats over grass bottom starting in about 5 feet of water out to where the grass beds end. Small tarpon are being caught in creeks north of the Cotee River, as well as in the Gulf Harbors canals. Pompano and permit have been hit-or-miss at the Anclote power plant since the weather began warming.

The Tackle Box, 727- 819-3783: Buck says anglers are doing well on reds and trout, with some nice fish being taken around spoils, rocks, oysters and mangroves. Snook appear to be moving off the springs and prowling around for food since the weather warmed, so chances of finding one willing to bite are up. Offshore anglers are leaving the gag grouper alone now that the season is closed, but they are finding schools of mackerel, mangrove snapper on the rocks and the odd kingfish.

J&J Bait and Tackle II, 727- 940-7928: James reports the pompano and permit bite was big news until the weather warmed a bit, now the fishing is on and off. There also have been bluefish at the plant. Trout are on the grass of St. Joseph Sound, though many anglers are not after them due to the season being closed. Mackerel are on the grass flats north and south of the Anclote River.

Tarpon Trading Company, 727- 937-1488: Larry says his anglers are doing very well on big trout. It’s catch-and-release only, but they are reporting fish up to 24 inches. Hot spots have been off the north side of Fred Howard Park, around the mouth of the Anclote River and at Sunset Beach. Anglers fishing above the Alternate 19 bridge on the Anclote River have been taking jacks up to 10 pounds. One angler limited on pompano above the bridge—an unusual catch but one he verified with photos. There have been some nice snook under the pier at the power plant outfall. Mackerel have been schooling around the north end of Anclote Key and just offshore on hard bottom.