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Spring fever heats up the action during the winter

By LARRY HOFFMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 1, 2002


Chamber of Commerce weather has made for excellent fishing this week. The full moon produced strong tides that kick-started bottom fishing.

Chamber of Commerce weather has made for excellent fishing this week. The full moon produced strong tides that kick-started bottom fishing.

Water temperatures offshore are in the 70s, with plenty of live bait pods showing up along our coast. We normally don't see bait pods until late March or early April, but with springlike conditions there are plenty available.

The grouper bite has been excellent from 45 to 90 feet. Using dead bait, we caught a half-dozen grouper Tuesday in 85 feet of water along with a dozen mangos. The grouper shied away from our live bait. We downsized our tackle from 60- to 50-pound leaders, producing more bites.

Blackfin tuna still are here. Ninety to 120 feet seems to be the magic depth. Set up over springs or shipwrecks and start chumming for best results. Live bait is essential when tuna fishing. If you can jig up some Spanish sardines, you will not be disappointed.

Amberjacks are holding over structure and springs in 100 to 130 feet. Live bait, blue runners, big pinfish and sardines work best.

Believe it or not, we still are catching kingfish. Because of all the live bait around this weekend, you might want to break out your kingfish gear. We are experiencing April conditions in late January.

Pier fishing has been excellent. Redington Long Pier fishermen report good catches of silver trout, snook, redfish and sheepshead. Trout action also has been good, and redfish action has been even better.

-- Larry "Huffy" Hoffman charters out of John's Pass, Treasure Island. Call (727) 709-9396.

OUTDOORS CALENDAR

Fishing

FISHING REGULATIONS: Spotted sea trout season closes today in the northeast and northwest regions

SUNDAY: Tampa Pro Bass Spring Tournament Series, Grape Hammock Fish Camp, Lake Kissimmee, 789-0525.

MONDAY: West Coast Fly Fishing Club monthly meeting, St. Thomas Aquinas Church, New Port Richey, 856-8116.

Seminars

SATURDAY: Fly-casting, Bill Jackson's, 576-4169.

SATURDAY: Fly-casting, World Class Outfitters, (813) 968-3736.

SATURDAY: Fly-casting, Saltwater Fly Fisherman, Clearwater, 443-5000.

TUESDAY: Saltwater fishing class, nine-week course, meets each Tuesday, Lakewood Community School, St. Petersburg, 893-2955.

TUESDAY: Cast net with Mike Mahoney, Hurricane Pass Anglers Club, Ozona, 372-8700.

WEDNESDAY: Cast net throwing and maintenance with Rick Redd, Minnows and Monsters Tackle, Tampa, (813) 835-1512.

WEDNESDAY: Fly-casting, women only, Saltwater Fly Fisherman, Clearwater, 443-5000.

THURSDAY: Shallow water grouper fishing with Bob Blomberg, Boater's World, Largo Mall, 584-8500.

THURSDAY: Inshore artificial techniques with Woody Gore, West Marine, St. Petersburg, 343-1765.

Boating

SATURDAY: Free kayak demo, Sweetwater Kayaks, Tierra Verde, 906-0708.

SATURDAY: Safe-boating course, Clearwater, 462-6368.

TUESDAY: Safe-boating course, St. Petersburg, 898-8774.

TUESDAY: Hudson Beach Yacht Club monthly meeting, Hudson Senior Center, 868-7037 or 372-7103.

WEDNESDAY: Boating skills and seamanship course, Tampa, (813) 835-4118.

THURSDAY: Safe-boating course, Madeira Beach, 587-7873.

THURSDAY: Safe-boating course, St. Pete Beach, 867-3088.

Etc.

SATURDAY: Weedon Island Preserve guided walk, 3 miles, reservations required, 217-7208.

MONDAY: Frog Listening Network seminar with Dave Sumpter, Moccasin Lake Nature Park, Clearwater, Clearwater Audubon Society, 771-7385.

-- Send information to Outdoors, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Items must be typed, arrive 10 days before the event and include event name, time, address and phone number.

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