© St. Petersburg Times, published May 10, 2002
The kingfish run is coming to a close, and tarpon are here to take their place. Kingfish still are available if you work baits close to the bottom. Downriggers are taking most of the strikes when trolling in 40 to 60 feet.
The ship channel has been a hot spot. Most anglers look for channel markers that hold bait. Then they fill the live well with bait using a gold-hooked, bait-catching rig.
Slow troll near the markers during a solunar period. Start at markers 7 and 8, then work your way out. The Betty Rose, Ten Fathom and Rube Allyn reefs have been holding school-size kings. Leave a flat line out when grouper fishing. Some of my biggest kingfish have been caught during the end of the run while grouper digging.
Tarpon are showing up at area bridges, passes and along the beaches. Pinfish, treadfins and crabs are hard baits to beat when working the beach area. Rig a rod with 50-pound test, 80-pound leader and a 6/0 hook. Place a large cork 5 to 8 feet from the hook. Sit in a pass or drive along the beach in the early morning and look for rolling fish. When you find a school that is not being fished by someone, stop the boat a few hundred yards in front of the school and wait for them to come to you. Cast a few rods out and keep a baited rod at the boat. Wait for the tarpon to take the cork under the water before reeling down on the fish and setting the hook.
Flats fishing in lower Tampa Bay is difficult. Conditions need to be just right or the fish won't bite. Redfish have been friendly during the late afternoon high tide. Trout are feeding best during strong tidal movements.
The Sunshine Skyway fishing piers are holding good numbers of Spanish mackerel. Large schools of white bait, baby threadfins, small sardines and pumpkin seeds hang on the shadow line. Free-line a small bait on a No. 1 long shank hook and a mono leader in the bait schools. This rig draws more strikes, but you will lose a few fish to cutoffs. Gulf piers are getting a few tarpon along with flounder, whiting, redfish and snook.
-- Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.
(All phone numbers begin with 727 unless noted)
FISHING REGULATIONS: Stonecrab season closes Thursday.
SATURDAY: Island Way Flats Fishing Classic, Clearwater YMCA, 467-9622.
SATURDAY: Tarpon tournament, Millers Marina, the Tarpon Club, (941) 964-8080.
TUESDAY: Old Salt Fishing Club monthly meeting, American Legion, Madeira Beach, 328-7699.
UPCOMING: Spanish mackerel tournament, May 18, Billy's Stone Crab, Tierra Verde, 542-3900.
TUESDAY: Special techniques with lures, Boater's World, De Soto Mall, Bradenton, (941) 747-8339.
WEDNESDAY: Snook fishing, Minnows and Monsters Tackle, Tampa, (813) 835-1512.
THURSDAY: Tarpon fishing, Jimmy Mac's, Tampa, (813) 839-3449.
THURSDAY: Bluewater trolling, West Marine, St. Petersburg, 327-0072.
SATURDAY: Hyperlite National Amateur Wakeboard Tournament, Tower Lake, Oldsmar, 517-7000.
WEDNESDAY: Maintaining your outboard motor and boat seminar, Boater's World, Brandon, (813) 620-0997.
TODAY: Field trip, Cross Bar Ranch, Clearwater Audubon Society, 786-2764.
SATURDAY: Volunteers needed, give a day for the bay, Tampa BayWatch, 893-2765.
-- 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.