- Gag Grouper
- Goliath Grouper
- Mangrove Snapper
- Permit & Pompano
- Red Grouper
- Red Snapper
- Sea Trout
- Spanish Mackerel
Greater Amberjack and Lesser Amberjack are available off the coast of Ann Maria Island throughout the year. Both are great eating and very hard fighters. The only difference between the two for the most part is there size. The Greater Amberjacks average 20 to 50 pounds and can grow over 100 pounds. The Lesser Amberjacks average 4 to 7 pounds. Many times the Lesser Amberjacks are in closer to shore than their larger cousins. The Lesser are great on light tackle while the Greater take beefy tackle and a strong pair or arms.
Black Drum fish are found throughout Ann Maria year round. The Black Drum fishing is particularly good in the winter in the Bay. They can be found around rocks, bridges and docks in the Bay. They can also be found in large schools at times close to oyster bars and shallow sand bars roaming in large packs much like their cousin the Redfish. They vary in size from 1 pound to 90 pounds and larger even. They are good to eat. The slot is 14 to 24 inches so the large ones must go back.
Anna Maria Island Cobia fishing is a very popular inshore and offshore challenge. The spring is the very best time to sight fish for them with light tackle. They can be seen cruising the flats alone or behind Sting Rays looking for almost any opportunity for an easy meal. They make for an easy target for light tackle and fly fishermen alike. Throughout the rest of the year Cobia can be found around structures around Anna Maria as well as offshore. In the fall and winter they also frequent some of the Bay area power plants again making for easy targets as they can be seen cruising the flats nearest to the warm water discharge. Cobia generally average from about 12 to 50 pounds. Larger trophy size fish range upwards of 90 pounds. Occasionally Cobia can go over 100 pound and larger.
Flounder are always a taste bonus to your cooler box when out fishing the Anna Maria Island waters. Flounder are not generally targeted much in the Bay area as they are in the country’s more northern states, but they are caught quite often while targeting other species in the Anna Maria area. They can be caught offshore, on the flats, just about anywhere in the bay and even in the brackish rivers. Good eating size Flounder range from 15 to 28 inches around the Bay area. Larger ones can on rare occasions go over 30 inches. The Flounder limit is 12 inches, but that is a little small to get much meat off of it, unless you want to eat it whole stuffed with crab meat.
Anna Maria Island, Longboat key and the open Gulf offshore from both islands are loaded with Gag Grouper. Without a doubt gag Grouper is top among favorites for Floridians to eat. They are easy to trick into biting, pull really hard and are great to eat. They are generally caught on the bottom and range from 2 pounds to 60 pounds; larger ones have been caught. Keeper Gag Grouper have to measure 22 inches which is about 5 pounds of fish.
Anna maria Island reefs are loaded with Goliath Grouper especially since the ban put into effect over 20 years ago. Their numbers continue to climb as well as their size. Although they must be returned to the ocean, they make great fighters and are true trophies for someone who wants to do battle with a giant fish. The Goliath can range from 100 to 300 pounds; larger ones range from 400 to 500 pounds. There are some exceeding 600 pounds. Some records indicate they get over 800 pounds, and with the population as healthy as it is these days they are probably out there or are at least starting to get that big.
Kingfish migrate Into the Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key area in the spring and fall. Fishing is at its peak in the area during March, April, May and then again September, October and November. Kingfish are known for their speed and smoking long runs while battling. They average on the Gulf coast from 10 to 30 pounds. Trophies are 40 pounds, and 50 pounders are possible. They can be caught trolling, on live bait and even make for a great fly fishing challenge.
Anna Maria and Longboat Key Snapper fishing is good through the entire area from shallow water docks to deep water structures. If you can find some snags, there are probably some Mangrove Snapper nearby.( more than willing to hand you in them.)??? Mangrove Snapper are known for their craftiness. They are not only finicky feeders able to quick clean the bait off you hook, but they are strong and already have their escape route picked out before they bite you hook. The good thing is they school by the hundreds, which makes them a challenging but action packed target. They are tremendously good to eat. Mangrove Snapper average in size from 8 to 25 inches. Good sized ones run about 6 or 7 pounds
Permit & Pompano
The reefs off the beaches off Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key are world renown for it tremendous Permit fishery. Often Permit schools have thousands of fish in them. Larger Permit in the area can reach up to 50 pounds; without a question the world record could fall in these waters any day. Along with the exciting prospects for Permit, the Bay is loaded with their small cousin the Pompano. Pompano average 2 to 5 pounds and occasionally go over 6 pounds. They hang out in a variety of areas throughout the Bay depending on the time of year. They can be found on shallow grass flats, all the beach ( reef areas???) and around deep water Bay area structures. Pompano are a lot of fun to catch on light tackle and fly rods and are great to eat.
Anna Maria Island, Tampa Bay and Sarasota Bay is loaded with Redfish and has a great year round abundant supply. Whether it’s blazing hot in August or a chilly 50 degrees in January, the Redfish are out there in the Bay and biting. The Redfish are taken very seriously around Anna Maria Island, and the state recognizes the importance of maintaining such a great fishery stocking over a million and a half into the Bay each year. This makes the great fishery even better. Most of the Redfish caught in Longboat and Anna Maria area average 16 to 35 inches. There are larger ones caught on the flats on occasion that can run as large as 45 inches. The largest Redfish caught in the area are off of near shore reefs 2 to 15 miles into the Gulf and can exceed 50 pounds.
Along with the popular Gag Grouper the open Gulf off the shores of Anna Maria Island is loaded with a tremendous amount of Red Grouper. The majority are found a short distance into the open Gulf to far offshore depending on the water temperature. They make for unbelievable action. Many times it is as fast as you can get your bait to the bottom, if you can get it there before a willing Red Grouper bites it. They range in size from a pound to 25 pounds. 30 pounders have been caught on occasion. The keeper minimum is 20 inches. They are shorter and stockier than there cousin the Gag Grouper. A 20 inch Red Grouper would be similar in weight to a 22 inch Gag Grouper.
Anna Maria Island Snapper fishing is a favorite among offshore enthusiasts. They are a challenging battle, very willing to bite and make for great table fare. They are for the most part an offshore species generally 20 miles or more out into the Gulf of Mexico. They generally range in size from 4 to 30 pounds. Very large Red Snapper can go over 40 pounds at times.
Anna Maria Island Trout fishing is a favorite among beginners and seasoned anglers. They feed strongly (steadily???) year round regardless of the water temperature; they are extremely prolific in the area and are great to eat. Most Bay area Sea Trout run from 12 to 23 inches; trophies are 24 to 32 inches and can weigh up to 10 pounds. There have been rumors of Sea Trout over 34 inches in the Bay. They make for fast action and are a lot of fun for kids and first time anglers. Sometimes it’s possible to catch hundreds and never pull the anchor.
Anna Maria Island Shark fishing is truly world class. Tampa bay is recognized as one of the world’s most Shark infested waters, which is great news for anglers. In the Bay and in the Gulf there are Sharks everywhere, And they are very willing to bite a chunk of fish. Local Anna Maria Island beach goers have nothing to worry about when swimming the shallow clear sugar sand beach of our coast. Large shark rarely venture in close in the shallow water during the day when people are swimming. Some of the more popular and easy to catch species are Blacknose, Spinner, Blacktip, Lemon, Bonnethead and Nurse Sharks. Some of the larger common Sharks to the area are Hammerhead, Bull, and Tiger sharks. Some of the largest Hammerhead Sharks caught in the area can reach nearly 1400 pounds and are often seen to eat whole full grown Tarpon. There are dozens of other kinds of Sharks that frequent the area including Mako and White sharks farther out into the Gulf.
Winter time Anna Maria Island Sheepshead fishing is a fun and challenging way to spend a cool afternoon. Sheepshead is available to anglers in the Anna Maria Island area year round, but January and February, are the very best months. This is the time of year they are spawning, and the larger sheepsheads are everywhere throughout Tampa Bay, Sarasota bay, Longboat Key and Anna Maria near shore area underwater structures. They are finicky biters and a challenge to hook, but once you get your timing down and your hook set you can load the boat with them. The limits on sheepshead are very liberal at 15 per person, and they are great to eat. Good keeper sizes average 2 to 6 pounds. While large ones run 8 to 9 pounds. Occasionally they do reach over 10 pounds.
Anna Maria Island Snook fishing is some of the area’s most exciting and sought after action available in the saltwater. It seems Florida locals go crazy for them; hands down they are the favorite fish on the flats to catch on the west coast for Florida natives. People also come from around the world in search of Tampa bay Snook. They can be caught year round in the Tampa area and are quite active feeders except during the coldest periods because of their tropical nature. The Anna Maria Island and Longboat key area can’t be beat for its sheer number of Snook. On some of the best days a single boat can catch as many as a hundred or more. Most of the Bay area’s Snook that are caught average in the 20 to 30 inch class. Trophy Snook run from 36 to 48 inches and weigh from 16 to almost 40 pounds. There are rumors of Snook being caught over 50 inches and 50 pounds though. None the less at any size the Tampa Bay Snook is a fermentable target, they are great fighters and a wonderful challenge in the shallow clear water they inhabit.
Spanish Mackerel are a fun fighting, good eating, high energy fish that frequent the area. Anna Maria Island Mackerel fishing can be so fast at times you can literally load the boat up with them. Some commercial fishermen actually still make money hook and lining them; that’s how fast the action can be. They can be caught almost year round except during the coldest and warmest periods of the year. The spring and fall are the very best time of year to catch Mackerel in the Bay area. They are fast strong fighters on light tackle and average from 14 to 28 inches; occasionally a very large one can be as long as 30 inches.
Tarpon are one of Anna Maria Islands most popular species to fish for, and for good reason Anna Maria is one of the world best Tarpon fisheries. Actually quickly becoming known as the Tarpon Capital of the world. Tarpon live in Tampa Bay year round from small juveniles to full grown mature fish. Most of the Tarpon caught in the Anna Maria Island area range from 50 to 200 pounds. Anna Maria Island Tarpon fishing is world renowned for its giant Tarpon that can reach 250 pounds and measure 8 ft. long. Though they can be caught year round, they are much easier to catch with regularity during the warmer months. March and April are good for catching the Bay area’s resident Tarpon. May through July marks the peak migration period when Tarpon flood the Bay and beaches coming from all around the gulf and down south. It is the very best time to target Anna Maria Tarpon. August through October is also good for resident Tarpon, holdovers from the migration and migrating fish heading south for the winter. November through February is generally the slowest time for Tarpon in Tampa Bay. They can still be caught around Bay area structures and bridges as well as power plants during the coldest periods, but it is really not the time to target them.