by Capt. James Vadas
Offshore fishing near Anna Maria Island is crazy right now. The False Albacore are biting near the 7-mile north reef. They weren’t blowing up all over the top water, like we have seen in years past. We should see them come in big numbers by September. The False Albacore are beautiful fish that look like tuna, but don’t taste like one. They are some of the best fighting fish you can catch on light tackle. We were unable to run offshore the rest of that week because of the storms, I was able to use some of the Spanish Mackerel and False Albacore we caught out there with my friends from New Birth Baptist Church SC to target goliath grouper on the inshore reefs. My friend Pastor Mark got ahold of a goliath grouper that straightened out the hook during the fight. It didn’t take more than a few minutes for the goliath to grab the full mackerel we used as bait. He made an explosive run for cover. This monster was probably close to 300lbs! He was hiding under the reef structure in only 15’ of water. The beautiful water of Anna Maria Island provides habitat for some very large species, such as sharks, tarpon, and goliath grouper. These fish are a real challenge of physical strength. It helps to have the right size equipment to catch them. I always seem to notice more shark activity around the island when tarpon season starts in June, probably because of the amount of bait we chum with trying to catch tarpon. About the same time every year I can remember a hammerhead shark, rumored to be over 12’ long, show up. The locals have nicknamed him Hitler. I personally have seen him bite a huge tarpon in half.
I had the honor of taking my friend Heather, an elementary school teacher, and her husband from Kentucky on her dream fishing trip to catch a shark. We set up near Bean Point on the North end of Anna Maria Island and used a chunk of false albacore meat as bait on a braided steel leader with non-offset circle hook, along with lots of chum. In less than an hour we hooked the first shark. It was a great fight! She even asked me a couple days later what kind of fishing rod she used while on my boat because she wants one of her own. Sharks can and are frequently fished from shore, but there have been some new rules as of July 2019. The State of Florida requires anyone who is shark fishing from shore to have a shark fishing permit and chumming is not allowed. God bless and tight lines!
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