I know it's been a while, but fly fishing the south shore of Tampa Bay and Northern Sarasota Bay was RED hot before the arrival of Ida in the Gulf. Catch and release trout is the easiest catch on fly, right now on the flats around Anna Maria. Working potholes with olive/white or chartreuse/white Clouser Minnows will score you fly catches numbering well into the 20's. Most of the fish are averaging 15-22" with just a few around 24-25". These guys are great fun on a 6 wt. fly rod.....especially Orvis' new HYDROS rods that have just been released for 2010 lined up with Orvis' new 6 wt. All-Around Saltwater floating line. High tides are no longer super high (unless on lunar phases) so it is very possible to sight cast snook and reds on a rising tide. Gold Crystal Schimmows or olive Sea Ducers will get the job done on the lower half of the rising tide due to their ultra quiet landing. On the first part of the falling tide, weighted shrimp/crab patterns and Flats Toads will get the job done on fish moving to deeper water. As with any skinny water fly application, poling a skiff is a must. It is the only way (aside from wading) that you can close the distance and not spook these weary game fish. On days when the wind is up, line management is critical and a stripping basket is a must.
On 11/1/09, P.J. Kirkhorn of Dade City enjoyed a half day of flats fishing near Anna Maria Island. Despite windy conditions that made flyrodding impossible, P.J. managed around 15 trout up to 22" and two lower slot reds. All fish were caught on spin tackle using Mirr-O-Lure's Mirro-Dines and silver spoons. Also on the catch list were ladyfish, small barracuda, juvenile gag grouper, and mangrove snapper.