Bait sardines make belated appearance on grass beds

Anclote Bait and Tackle, (727) 945-1808: Capt. Griff says the big news over the past week is that schools of scaled sardines have shown up. Bait has been scarce all season, but anglers have been finding it over all the usual grass beds of late. Snook remain on the island beaches, with live pigfish the top bait for big fish. The flats off Fred Howard Park, in Tarpon Springs, are seeing some rolling tarpon, and anglers fishing along the causeway there have been connecting with plenty of sharks, including one bull shark estimated at 8 to 9 feet. Lots of small trout are on the shallow grass flats north and south of the Anclote River. Offshore, anglers working around 68 feet of water reported good catches of mangrove snapper and red grouper. Gag season opened Tuesday, and while it will take a few days to get reports, by all accounts, there should be plenty of good fishing beyond 60 feet.
Tarpon Fishing Outfitters, (727) 942-8944: Barrett says keep an eye out for big breeder reds. Fish are preparing to spawn and reports are coming in from the south beaches of big fish on the shallow reefs and structure offshore. Snook remain in the surf at the barrier islands. Sharks are everywhere, with the channel cut at Anclote Key a prime spot to ambush small and large sharks alike.
Tarpon Trading Company, (727) 937-1488: Pete says snookers continue to score on the beach at Anclote Key. Some big fish are being caught and released. There also are some gator trout being taken around the island. Fred Howard Park has been producing some good trout catches, with anglers working the grass beds with live and artificial baits doing well. Reds have been a good bet along the mangroves inside the Anclote River.
One Stop Bait and Tackle, (727) 842-5610: Joe says trout anglers have been getting their bigger fish over the shallow grass flats early in the day, moving to the deeper flats and taking smaller fish as the sun gets high. Snook remain on the beach at Anclote Key, with live-baiters catching and releasing some nice fish. A tower boater cruising area canals reminds everyone that not all snook are in the surf. He reported spotting plenty of fish in the backwaters. Offshore, boats are taking some nice mangrove snapper on rocks at 60 feet or deeper. Live shrimp has been working well, and is taking plenty of grunts and hogfish, as well. Next week will tell us how the gag grouper fishing is going, but it is expected that the better catches will start in about 60 feet of water.
Pier 60, (727) 462-6466: Kelli reports a mixed bag of mackerel, whiting, mangrove snapper, flounder and trout. There are a few snook around the pier on Clearwater Beach, and a kingfish was taken Friday, an unusual late-season catch.
The Long Pier, (727) 391-9398: Gary says tarpon are being hooked off the end of the pier at Redington Shores. Snook have been around the pilings, and some nice drum have been landed. Flounder fishing is good over the sand bottom areas, and lots more bait has shown up around the pier over the past week. Mackerel are schooling and moving in and out, and plenty of small sharks, including blacktips and bonnetheads, are being landed.
Nick Stubbs is founder and webmaster of, an interactive fishing website.
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