1. At Big Pier 60 in Clearwater, good numbers of Spanish mackerel and sheepshead have been caught this past week. A 34-inch redfish and an 8-pound tripletail were also caught. A few mangrove snapper and bonnethead sharks were in the mix, reports Big Pier 60 Bait & Tackle (727-462-6466).
2. At Madeira Beach, there’s good numbers of Spanish mackerel nearshore in 30 feet of water. A few kingfish are biting at the west end of the Egmont Channel and also about 40 miles offshore, but their numbers are way down this season. The bottom bite for hogfish is very good at a depth of 50 feet. Plenty of gag grouper, mangrove snapper and grunts are biting on the bottom, reports Larry Mastry at Mastry’s Tackle (727-896-8889).
What's Biting: Snook
Despite cooler weather, plenty of snook are biting in the bay area and feeding as they prepare to transition to the back waters.
Strike Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Elsewhere
3. At John's Pass, the sheepshead bite is good around structure and the docks. Good numbers of pompano have been caught on Doc’s Jigs and shrimp. Other passes in the area are producing pompano. Snook are still in the pass, but they’re starting to move to the back waters. Out at the jetty, mangrove snapper, whiting and the occasional Spanish mackerel have been caught. Tripletail are still on the crab buoys off the beach, reports Andrew Schleissing at Gulf Coast Bait and Tackle (727-343-4181).
Freshwater fishing: Bass bite as been steady as fish move to shallower water around Polk
4. At Fort De Soto Park, the sheepshead bite is on fire around the area docks and structure. Snook, mangrove snapper and a few pompano have been caught around the marina. The redfish bite is good in deeper water between the islands and mangrove lines around the park. Out at the piers, there’s plenty of sheepshead, some pompano and sporadic mackerel. A few snook are still biting around the rocks at the Gulf pier, reports Blade Willis at Tierra Verde Bait and Tackle (727-864-2108).
5. Around the Sunshine Skyway and lower Tampa Bay, snook are stacked up at the mouth of the Manatee River. Gag grouper fishing remains good on the artificial reefs, rock piles and along the shipping channel in the bay. A few sheepshead have shown up around the Skyway Bridge pilings, reports Capt. John Gunter of Palmetto (863-838-5096). Good size sheepshead are holding on area structure and cruising the edges and potholes on the flats. Plenty of Spanish mackerel have been holding around the reefs in the bay. Several different schools of redfish are in Terra Ceia Bay, reports Capt. Shawn Crawford of Florida Sport Fishing Outfitters (941-705-3160).
6. At Anna Maria, good numbers of snook are holding along the Seven Pines area to Palma Sola Bay. Sheepshead are holding around structure and the pilings at both the Cortez and Manatee Avenue bridges, reports Gunter. Redfish schools are cruising the area south of the Manatee Avenue Bridge, the Seven Pines area and Perico Bayou. Pompano are biting to the south in Sarasota Bay around Long Bar and in Buttonwood Harbor. Look for tripletail still holding on the crab buoys and markers in the area, reports Crawford.
7. At St. Petersburg, the residential docks and canals out of the wind are producing sheepshead and mangrove snapper. Weedon Island has a really good bite for snook and redfish, but the trout bite has been slow. Range markers in the bay that are holding bait are producing Spanish mackerel. The Skyway and the Clam Bar area are also producing good numbers of mackerel. Gag grouper and a few snapper are still biting on the bay reefs and along the channel. Redfish are biting around the area islands on the oyster bars, reports Larry Mastry at Mastry’s Tackle (727-896-8889).
8. In the north end of Tampa Bay, it’s mainly sheepshead, black drum and some pompano around the bridges. The upper bay is producing redfish and a few trout. The snook bite is good on the flats outside the mouths of the creeks. Weedon Island is especially good for snook and redfish. Picnic Island is producing redfish and some trout. Schools of jacks are cruising that area, and some mackerel have been caught off the pier. Cobia have been caught at both the Weedon and Apollo Beach power plants, reports Gandy Bait & Tackle (813-839-5551).
• At Fort Pierce, offshore when seas permit, there’s mahi up to 15 pounds and a few wahoo at the 80- to 200-foot mark. Kingfish are biting closer in at a depth of 50 to 80 feet. It’s been too rough for bottom fishing. At the inlet, there’s whiting, large croakers and scattered pompano along the beach. Spanish mackerel and bluefish are biting in the surf from the jetty. A few snook are taking live baits in the inlet. Inside around the bridges, more sheepshead and black drum are showing up. Sand perch are biting from the south catwalk and the Melody Lane Pier, reports Clint Walker at the Fishing Center of St. Lucie (772-465-7637).
This article originally appeared on The Ledger: Saltwater: Snook are feeding hard before heading to back waters