Beach fishing can be a great way to relax and catch dinner. You can bring as many comfort items as you want to ensure you have a great time at the beach alone or with your family. Anna Maria Island can be an excellent location for beach fishing because of the relatively mild surf found on the gulf coast and proximity to nearby deep water passes.
Beach fishing doesn’t require much more than traditional saltwater fishing gear. However, dedicated beach fishers will often have a longer rod (8ft+), bigger real (5000+), and strong line/leader, that is heavy enough to land large fish and sharks. A fishing beach cart with big wheels designed for sand is also a nice addition for transporting gear.
As for rigging your rod, here are two basic setups to choose from. Two of the most popular rigs are a fishfinder rig and a pompano rig. A fish finder rig is created by running your mainline through an egg sinker (½ oz or heavier depending on surf and current conditions), tying the main line to a swivel, then attaching a section of fluorocarbon leader material 2-4 feet, and your choice of hook. For unattended rods, circle hooks sized for your bait of choice are a good option. A pompano rig and necessary pyramid sinker is most easily purchased at the local bait store. It suspended multiple baits a foot or two off the bottom, typically with circle hooks.
More often than not fishing live or dead bait is the best option for beach fishing fun. This usually results in a variety of species being caught. Bait options include shrimp, mullet (cut or live), sand fleas, or cut squid. If fishing with bait is not appealing, you can cast and retrieve lures or soft plastics that imitate baitfish as well.
Once at the beach, anglers will want to survey the area and water to look for the sand bars, outflow or rip currents that cause disruptions of wave actions, and deeper troughs. The troughs that are often beside or between bars provide protected areas where fish will often travel and look for bait. Predatory fish will often stalk the edges of outflow currents looking for bait that is swept out in the current. Another good sign of fish action is nervous or jumping baitfish, and birds circling or diving in the water.
Due to the relatively warm water temperatures found at Anna Maria Island beach fishing can produce quality fish year-round. Certain species of fish will migrate throughout the seasons. The warmer months of late spring, summer, and early fall will generally be a good time of year to catch snook, redfish, sea trout, spanish mackerel, barracuda, jack crevalle, and sharks. Occasionally tarpon or cobia can be hooked from the beach in the warmer months, but only the most prepared anglers, with heavy gear and experience, have a chance to land these trophy species. The cooler months of late fall, winter, and early spring can produce redfish, sheepshead, black drum, and pompano.
Local knowledge is king, so while you are getting bait and gear at the local bait shop, don’t hesitate to ask staff or other customers what fish have been around lately and the best methods or bait is to target them.
Once you have been hooked on fishing at the beach and you want to target fish by boat in the Anna Maria Island area, reach out to Capt. Nate to book your next fishing adventure.