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The islands are the place to find reds


Published:   |   Updated: March 25, 2014 at 11:56 AM

Angler's Depot, (727) 938-5364(727) 938-5364: Brown says anglers have been hitting the islands for reds. Working flooded mangroves on the high tides behind Anclote Key, Honeymoon and Caladesi Islands can pay off with some nice fish right now. Snook are starting to work their way out of the backwaters, but as of the end of last week, Brown was still finding fish above U.S. 19 on the Anclote River. Trout fishing has been good around the north and south channels at Gulf Harbors. Black drum have been caught at Sand Bay and Key Vista, and jacks have been schooling around the Anclote power plant outfall. Offshore, the artificial reefs have been holding some big sheepshead, as well as mackerel, which have been showing up all over hard bottom areas just offshore.

Tarpon Fishing Outfitters, (727) 942-8944(727) 942-8944: Don says there have been some good catches of reds in the Anclote River, including above U.S. Alternate 19. Snook seem undecided between staying in the backwaters and moving out to the Gulf, and the schools of sardines that had been on the flats got scarce over the last week. Only when the bait is abundant will things really fire up on the outside flats and points. For now, live shrimp under docks is a hard strategy to beat. Snook, reds and trout are the targets.

Tarpon Trading Company, (727) 937-1488(727) 937-1488: Pete says mackerel and trout are on the flats. The grass beds off Howard Park and around the south end of Anclote Key have been particularly productive. The word is that cobia are being spotted cruising the flats, though none has been hooked. Jacks have been schooling at the Anclote power plant outfall, and a few pompano have been landed there. Offshore, anglers are finding keeper-sized red grouper in 60 feet of water or more. They also have been scoring hog snapper on live fiddler crabs or shrimp fished on the bottom.

One Stop Bait and Tackle, (727) 842-5610(727) 842-5610: Joe says trout fishing on the grass flats between Gulf Harbors and Dunedin has been good, with shrimp and jigs getting it done. Reds are getting a little more active and responding well to the warming water. They've been showing up about anywhere there are mangroves, moving into the bushes on the high tides. Snook remain in the backwaters for now, and hitting the canals remains a better bet than working outside points and channels. Silver trout have been biting well in St. Joseph Sound. Anglers have reported running into a few stray kings off Anclote Key, with some hooking fish and others seeing fish skyrocketing out of the water.

Anclote Bait and Tackle, (727) 945-1808(727) 945-1808: Capt. Griff says snook are divided between the backwaters and the outside, with some fish moving out on the last full moon. Mackerel fishing remains strong up and down the coast on the deeper grass flats. Some cobia are showing up, with fish spotted on the flats between Crystal Beach and the Anclote River. No one has reported landing one yet, but it's a good sign that they are showing up. Three large cobia were taken off an offshore ledge by one boat that was grouper fishing.

Nick Stubbs is founder and webmaster of Bitetracker.com, an interactive fishing website.

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