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Anna Maria Island Charter Fishing Guide

Anna Maria Island, Tampa Bay, and Sarasota Bay Sportfish Identification

Anna Maria Island, Tampa Bay, and Sarasota Bay have many different species of game fish that you may target while fishing with Captain Bill Lowman. Use this page to identify and learn about your catch!

—Along with this information, be ready for anything before your trip with Captain Bill by browsing Florida’s fishing regulations, as well as Anna Maria Island’s weather forecast and tide charts.


flashing tarpon


—Tarpon – Tarpon are some of Florida’s strongest fighters, and will burn the arms of any angler. They are acrobatic, leap and flip during a fight, and can reach weights of 200 pounds. Their main food sources are smaller fish, crabs, and shrimp. These fish are strictly protected from harvest and are caught as a game fish only.



Large Mangrove Snapper

All Smiles

—Mangrove/Gray Snapper – Mangrove snapper are a smart, fast, and feisty fish that inhabit our waters year-round. They are some of the best-tasting fish that swim, and provide great light-tackle fishing action. Usually, they are found near structure, and their eyesight and intelligence makes them a worthy adversary. Gray snapper must be 10″ long, and harvest is limited to 5 per person per day.



shark mouth


—Sharks – Many different species of sharks inhabit the local waters around Anna Maria, but the main species are black tip, black nose, spinner, lemon, bull, hammerhead, and bonnet head. These predators are caught in many different ways, from sight casting live pilchards on the flats to soaking a dead bait and being patient. Whatever the technique, a shark hookup is a guaranteed dose of adrenaline.



anna maria island flounder fishing

Fat Flat

—Flounder – Flounder are a great-tasting and unique-looking fish that inhabits the sandy bottom around piers, bridges, and structure. Their main foods are smaller fish and shrimp, but they will readily take artificial baits. They are a fun fight, and their minimum size is 12″.




anna maria island snook

Big Snook

—Snook – Snook are considered backwater wolves, and they are also the species shown in my business logo ( They stalk the shallow waters near mangroves and docks looking for prey. They average around 20″, but can grow to 20 pounds if conditions are right. They are great fighters, and will jump and peel drag when hooked. Their main food sources are pilchards, thread fin herring, and shrimp. Snook are a good-tasting fish, but the season is short and they must be between 28″ and 32″.



anna maria island redfish

Good Redfish

—Redfish – Redfish are commonly caught around docks and oyster bars during the cooler months, and are bulldogs on light tackle. There are usually known for long and fast runs when hooked, and their fillets are some of the best when blackened. Their main foods are crustaceans such as shrimp and crabs, but they also readily take fin fish such as pilchards and pinfish. They may be kept for harvest if their size is in the range of 18″ to 27″.


anna maria island trout

Nice Trout!

—Sea Trout –  Sea trout are a beautifully spotted fish, much like its freshwater counterpart. They are found in shallow grass flats where they ambush prey swimming overhead. My clients and I catch these fish year-round, and they may be kept if they are over 15″ in length. Their favorite foods are shrimp and pilchards.



gag grouper trolling november

Gag Grouper

—Grouper – Two different species of grouper are commonly caught near Anna Maria Island, and they are the gag and red grouper. Usually found offshore, they congregate in certain areas of nearshore structure and debris on the ocean bottom. We catch them with shrimp, pinfish, thread fin herring, and pilchards using heavy duty tackle and strong line. They are bruisers, and swim hard for the rocky bottom as soon as they are hooked in an attempt to escape. Their season opens July 1, and they must be 20″ (red grouper) and 22″ (gag grouper).


anna maria island cobia


Cobia – Cobia (ling) are large, strong, and great-tasting fish that often congregate near structure or debris while looking for food. They are also known for following large sharks and rays, and when spotted will readily take a well-casted bait. Their prey consists of fin fish as well as crustaceans, and they can grow to 100 pounds on occasion. They must be 33″ to the fork of their tail, and are a great-tasting fish that have fillets firm enough to grill.


anna maria island permit

Fun Sized!

—Permit – Permit are known for their ability to blend in with the sand in shallow water, and can be a worthy adversary on light tackle. They are more commonly caught around wrecks using crabs and shrimp. They can reach sizes of 40 pounds or more, and are delicious.




kingfish double

Double Kingfish

—Kingfish – Kingfish, or king mackerel are known for their speed and ability to make screaming runs when hooked. Usually found many miles offshore, during certain times of the year they are caught on nearshore rock and wrecks using live baits. Although delicious when smoked, they have oily meat that may taste slightly fishy if cooked other ways.