Vol 6 No. 37 - June 7, 2006

Tarpon plentiful all along Island beaches

Captain Rick Grassett grabs the leader of Russell Johnson's tarpon only a few feet from the beach on Casey Key.

Captain Zach Zacharias
I took Betsey and David Biddle, from Rye, N.Y., to a diverse catch in both the inshore and offshore waters of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key over the weekend.

A light onshore breeze had a number of species going along the beaches. Several large kingfish were hooked and Betsey caught and released a king of about 24 pounds no more than 300 yards from the beaches of Longboat. Dave brought a lemon shark of about 30 pounds to the boat and the pair nailed numerous Spanish mackerel, one of which was the largest I think I have ever seen and probably weighed in at 8 pounds. There were also a bunch of small bluefish and pogeys.

A short foray into the bay at the end of a falling tide produced a limit catch of redfish for the couple. The reds ran up to 23 inches and were mixed in with a bunch of Jack crevalle.

I'm kind of excited over the fact that there are still some sizeable kingfish available off the beaches in the area in June. The water temperature out there has just reached the 80 degree mark, which is still in the comfort level of the big macks.

Tarpon have been spotted on almost every trip, both in the bay and the Gulf, but they have not shown any real propensity to bite. It may be because the water is still so incredibly clear in most locales locally.

Captain Rick Grassett
Anglers fishing with me on the Snook Fin-Addict, out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, during the past couple of weeks have had good action with tarpon. Although the bite hasn’t been hot every day, the action has been steady. Tarpon are behaving in a normal pattern and are plentiful. When conditions have been good, tarpon schools have been showing well and giving us good shots at them. The best action has been from south Siesta Key to north Casey Key.

Keith McClintock and Barry Slee, both from Lake Forest, Ill.; Dave Kinamon, from Milwaukee; Wisc., and Wayne Little, from St. Louis, Mo.; fished four days with Captain Kelly Stilwell and me recently. We had plenty of action during the week, although every day wasn’t good. The group jumped more than a dozen tarpon and landed four or five up to 100 pounds on live crabs. Barry also had a couple of takes on a fly. There were a couple of good days and a couple of slower days during the week. Keith and Dave finished strong on the last day of fishing with me. They had six or seven bites, jumping three tarpon and Dave landed a 90-pound fish to end the day.

I had three days of fly fishing the next week and although we didn’t land any tarpon with a fly we jumped a couple on black/purple and chartreuse bunny flies. We fished from Longboat Key to Sarasota’s Big Pass on those days. Fly angler Shawn Borgeson, from Tampa, also connected with a cobia on a black and purple bunny fly. Of course, the smallest of a pair of cobia, including one about 50 pounds or more, beat the big one to the fly!

Aledia Tush, owner of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters and Doug Forde, a manager at CB’s , tarpon fished with me along Casey Key last Tuesday. Tarpon were happy and biting that day. They had 5 or 6 bites on live crabs, jumping several of them, including one that Aledia had on for about 20 minutes before the hook pulled with the fish close to the boat. Doug also hooked one on a black and purple tarpon bunny fly.

My friend Russell Johnson, from Clovis, N.M., his sons Pat, Kyle, Justin and their friend, Stormy, fished the same area with me and Capt. Clark Wright on Friday and Saturday. Although conditions were good on Friday, tarpon didn’t bite that well. Clark had a couple of bites and one tarpon to the boat on Friday, while we had a couple of bites but no hook ups. The action heated up on Saturday. We landed a pair of tarpon, a 70 and a 90-pounder. The guys on Clark’s boat landed a 120-pound brute, which dragged them more than a mile offshore.

We are in the heart of our tarpon season now and as long as the weather holds up, fishing should be good through June and into July. Tarpon are in a normal pattern, traveling in a lane usually within a couple of hundred yards of the beach. The best bite has been from first light in the morning until 9 or 10 a.m.

Captain Dave Pinkham
Just about any species of fish that swims in the Gulf can be caught during the month of June. Following is a fishing forecast starting from just off the beach up to 60 miles out on the Gulf.

• Spanish mackerel should be plentiful just off the area beaches and around the passes. Live bait enthusiasts should use live shiners as bait. Trolling or casting silver spoons through feeding or jumping fish will all but guarantee some quick hook ups.

• King mackerel will also be scattered out over hard bottom in 40 feet to 100 feet of water. Keeping live baits free-lined out on top while bottom fishing is a great way to liven up the action with a smoker kingfish.

• Tarpon fishing will about as good as it gets over the next few weeks. Sight fishing is one of the predominant methods used for targeting tarpon pods swimming up and down the coastline. Once a pod of tarpon is sighted, casting live baits such as crabs, pinfish, or grunts can provoke one into hitting.

• Barracuda have once again returned to their summer haunts such as the artificial reefs and local shipwrecks. As the water temperatures continue to rise, these voracious feeders will hit just about anything and can actually become a nuisance for those anglers trying to target snappers or other small reef fish.

• Shark fishing can be additive, and the during the summer months is when it happens. Big hammerheads will be cruising up and down the coastline as they feed on tarpon. Smaller sharks such as blacktips and lemon sharks in the three- to five-foot range will be found over local reefs from 1 to 40 miles out on the Gulf. During the daytime, these sharks feed best on small live fish.

• Permit fishing should peak in June. The wrecks and reefs are the best places to locate them. Line crabs and jumbo shrimp both make excellent baits.

• Grouper fishing can really heat up in June and this is the time of year to look for the big red groupers out in the 80- to 140-foot-deep range. Keeper gag groupers will be located hanging out near structure such as shipwrecks and rock ledges. Live and dead baits will both produce fish.

• Snapper fishing should payoff with some excellent table fare. There are many different species on the Gulf. Cut bait and shrimp are hard to beat for fast action.

• Blackfin tuna are apt to make a showing for anglers making longer runs offshore. Keeping live baits free lined out behind the boat while your busy bottom fishing is a good way to hook into a tuna.


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