Vol 6 No. 37 - June 7, 2006
Tarpon plentiful all along Island beaches
SUN PHOTO/CAPTAIN RICK GRASSETT
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
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 CBs Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, during
the past couple of weeks have had good action with tarpon.
Although the bite hasnt 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 wasnt 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 didnt land any tarpon with a fly we jumped a couple
on black/purple and chartreuse bunny flies. We fished from
Longboat Key to Sarasotas 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 CBs Saltwater Outfitters and
Doug Forde, a manager at CBs , 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
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 didnt 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 Clarks
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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