There is plenty of bait all over the bays of Manatee County. White bait ranging in size from snapper candy to slab shiners, pinfish, grunts and spanish sardines are all easily netted over the grass flats in around three feet of water.
I had a half-day trip over Labor Day weekend with Bruce Willins and pals Tom and Jack from Long Island, N.Y. We started the morning in North Sarasota Bay on a low incoming tide. The trio did well with spotted sea trout up to 25 inches. Most of the specks were encountered in four feet of water over broken grass beds.
After icing down a number of trout, we headed out on a calm Gulf of Mexico three to four miles off the beaches of Anna Maria Island. Fishing hard bottom in 35 feet of water we caught a number of gag and red grouper, nice fat mangrove snapper, flounder and a 15-pound cobia. Surprisingly, we did not see or catch any spanish mackerel that morning as they had been pretty thick lately.
Snook season is under way and the linesiders will cooperate but the conditions need to be almost ideal for them to chew. I have found that a big outgoing tide is the time to concentrate on slot-sized snook and the time of day and atmospheric conditions are all part of the equation.
Capt. "Zach" Zacharias
Docked on Palma Sola Bay at Parrot Cove Marina/Sunny Shores
115th Street West and 36th Avenue, Cortez, FL 34215
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