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Cold is still a big factor

By DAVE MISTRETTA
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 8, 2002

The transition from winter to spring has been brought to a halt temporarily. A series of cold fronts has forced many anglers to return to winter tactics.

There has been a small window of opportunity between foul weather for boaters traveling offshore. On good days, expect to find decent numbers of grouper and amberjack at depths of 100 feet plus. Shallow water grouper digging has been far from satisfying, forcing many inshore fisherman to try different avenues. Plenty of hungry sheepshead have filled the void and can be found along docks, oyster bars, jetties and bridges. This time of year provides some of the best action because of their annual spawn. Appetites seem endless. Small crabs (fiddlers, blues) combined with tidbits of fresh shrimp are best.

Things will get better soon. Experience has proven the first push of kingfish invade by mid March. Appetites will be huge after their long journey from the Keys. As water temperatures reach 68 degrees, other gamefish will follow. Once mercury levels rise to the magical 70s, finding fish will become almost effortless. Giant kings, cobia, Spanish mackerel, grouper, barracuda and sharks infiltrate all the shallow waters within a few miles of the beach. Massive schools of threadfin herring and Spanish sardines also arrive, providing the predators with a never ending supply of food.

-- Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 595-3276, or e-mail sales@jawstoo.com.

Fishing

(All phone numbers begin with 727 unless noted)

TUESDAY: Old Salt Fishing Club monthly meeting, Madeira Beach American Legion, 328-7699.

Seminars

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

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

TUESDAY: Redfish, snook and trout fishing with Brian Slattery, Boater's World, De Soto Mall, Bradenton, (941) 747-8339. WEDNESDAY: Fly-casting, women only, Saltwater Fly Fisherman, Clearwater, 443-5000. WEDNESDAY: Grouper fishing with Anibol Roman, Boater's World, Brandon, (813) 620-0997. THURSDAY: Fishing basics with Gary Harris, Boat U/S, Clearwater, 573-2678. UPCOMING: Kingfishing with John Smith, March 20, Minnows and Monsters Tackle, Tampa, (813) 835-1512.

Boating

SUNDAY-TUESDAY: Snipe Midwinters, Clearwater Yacht Club, Clearwater, 447-6000. SUNDAY-MARCH 17: Fireball Worlds, Davis Island Yacht Club, Tampa, (813) 251-1158. MONDAY: Safe-boating course, Clearwater Sail and Power Squadron Building, Clearwater, 441-8775. TUESDAY: Boat-smart course, Apollo Beach Sail and Power Squadron, East Bay High School, Gibsonton, runs for four weeks, (813) 645-5168 or (813) 684-5063. TUESDAY: Safe-boating course, St. Petersburg, 898-8774 or 823-3753. 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. THURSDAY-MARCH 17: Lightning Winter Championships, St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 822-3873

Etc.

TUESDAY: Natural History Speaker Series, Boyd Hill Nature Trail, St. Petersburg, topic: Abundance and Distribution of the Chuck-will's-window in Managed Landscapes with Michael Wilson, 893-7326. -- Send information to Outdoors, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. All items must be typed and arrive 10 days before the event. Include event name, time, address and phone number

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