© St. Petersburg Times, published March 22, 2002
The fishing in Tampa Bay has been outstanding. Before a recent front, area waters were full of snook, redfish, trout, sheepshead and cobia. High winds and dirty water will slow the action for a few days, but conditions should improve by Sunday.
Snook are thickest on the east side of Tampa Bay. Cockroach Bay, Bishop Harbor and Terra Ceia are holding large schools. A well full of white bait will enable you to chum the snook into eating. It might take a few hundred chummed baits before they really turn on. Jigs and gold spoons work on some days, but the live baits rule.
Redfish are moving across the flats during the incoming tide. Most of the schools are hanging with mullet. Corked live bait or a gold spoon work equally well. Trout are running in the 1- to 3-pound range with most being caught on slug jigs. The really big trout are north of Dunedin. Work jigs or live bait over the flats and near the spoil islands.
Sheepshead are loaded up in the passes. Diced fresh shrimp tossed around the pilings will ring their dinner bell.
Cobia are starting to show up as they move their way up the coast. Most of the fish are just off the beach from Egmont to Longboat keys. Look for large schools and pairs in clear water. A free-lined threadfin worked in front of the cruising fish will draw the most strikes. Cobia can run from 10 to 70 pounds, so have the right tackle.
-- Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.
(All phone numbers begin with 727 unless noted)
SATURDAY: Old Salts 15th Annual T.V. John trolling tournament, out of Leverock's, Corey Avenue location, St. Petersburg, late registration available, 346-0498. SATURDAY: Big Bass Record Club Tournament, Cory Lake Isle, Tampa, (813) 301-1226. SATURDAY: Seatrout Fishing Tournament, Dunedin Fishing Center, Dunedin, must check in by 8 a.m., 738-5628. LOOKING AHEAD: Easter Kingfish Classic, March 29-30, Billy's Stonecrab, Tierra Verde, (727) 542-3900.
SATURDAY: Fly-casting, World Class Outfitters, (813) 968-3736
SATURDAY: Fly-casting, Saltwater Fly Fisherman, Clearwater, 443-5000.
TUESDAY: Fly-tying clinic, Saltwater Fly Fisherman, Clearwater, 443-5000. TUESDAY: Kingfishing with Larry Hoffman, Gulf to Bay Bait and Tackle, St. Pete Beach, 367-4756. TUESDAY: Boca Grande Tarpon fishing with Mel Field, Boater's World, De Soto Mall, Bradenton, (941) 747-8339. WEDNESDAY: Grouper fishing with Randy Rochelle and Vance Tice, Golden Triangle Fishing Club, Day's Inn, Tampa, (813) 935-3293. WEDNESDAY: Offshore fishing with Dan Hicks, Boater's World, Brandon, (813) 620-0997. WEDNESDAY: Fly-casting, women only, Saltwater Fly Fisherman, Clearwater, 443-5000.
SATURDAY: Nautical Flea Market, Gulfport Municipal Marina, Clam Bayou Nature Park, Gulfport, 893-1071. SATURDAY: Boat Maintenance with Do It Yourself Marine, Boat/US, Clearwater, 573-2678. 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