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Captain Zack's Manatee Fishing Report, August 10

CORTEZ -- Last winters severe cold is still playing itself out by throwing normal patterns out the window. A number of species that usually disappear mid- summer are still around. Spanish mackerel, pompano, king fish and cobia are still being encountered by anglers inshore and offshore. I suppose there is a possibility of the oil leak on the north coast keeping many pelagic species hanging out farther south, but that is pure conjecture.

Reefs, wrecks, and hard-bottom offshore of Manatee/Sarasota are giving up good catches of gag & red grouper, mangrove snapper,grunts,and trigger fish. Word has it that squid is a good producer for all of the above at this time. Throw in barracuda, AJ's, bonito, kingfish, and cobia for some red hot action.

Late summer usually has some decent action with black fin tuna developing out in the 80-100 ft. range. A lionfish was discovered in about 40 feet of water off Anna Maria's Bean Point this week. A local diver captured the live invasive hiding out under a ledge. The presence of these voracious,prolific, and dangerous reef predators does not bode well for our offshore fishery.

On the inshore scene, there is some really decent action to be found plying the deep grass of North Sarasota Bay, Anna Maria Sound, and all along the south shore of Tampa Bay. Numerous rod bending species such as Speckled trout, bluefish, spanish, jack crevalle, shark, and hefty lady fish can provide great sport when they get into high gear.

A good tide and the presence of small bait fish will usually get things cranking. Live bait is not necessary to get in on this action. Drifting the deep grass while tossing any number of artificials will suffice. If there were one lure to opt for I would choose what we used to call "dudes". The "dude" is very simply a buck-tail or nylon skirted lead head jig. They also hold up better than the soft bodied lures when there are toothy critters around. Look around for diving birds and there should be action there.

The inshore snapper bite has been off somewhat so far this summer, but they are starting to come on a little stronger at this late date. A lot has been made of the snook mortality in our area from last winters cold, but the inshore snapper population got hit really hard as well.

Look for late summer red-fishing to really take off soon. There are a number of large schools of oversized reds that have moved into our inshore waters in the past several weeks and those bruisers will start cooperating in a major-league way coming in to their spawning season this fall.

The FWC extended the snook closure until mid-September and may move to keep the harvest closed for a longer period of time. I know there are a lot of anglers in parts of the state that would get bent out of shape over an extended closure, but from Manatee county south to the glades there was a serious snook kill and I feel the closure should be extended for at least another year. Florida is a big state and regulations are hard to come up with that make sense to all anglers across the board. The FWC may have to divide the state into sections in order to manage species such as snook based on conditions in each area.

Good luck and good fishing! be careful out there.

Capt. "Zach" Zacharias, Cortez, Florida: 941-795-5026


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