© St. Petersburg Times, published October 4, 2002
Hot, dirty water is not helping any
The calendar says it's fall, but temperatures say otherwise. Weather patterns have put a hold on the normally fantastic fall season.
The water never cleared up after the pounding the beaches took from Hurricane Isadore's 5-foot ground swells, and Lili didn't help. The storms and above-normal water temperatures mean gulf fishing will be slower than the usual this week.
Divers reported poor visibility to 100 feet, and even the grass flats have been mired in stirred silt and dark freshwater runoff.
Spanish mackerel have not let dirty water keep them away. Schools have worked near the beaches most of the day, with the fastest action in the morning.
Live sardines have been best for macks. Spoons also work but are somewhat less effective in murky water.
There have been a few reports of gag grouper making their annual move to shallower water, but for the most part their migration hasn't started. With water temperatures in the low 80s, it's too warm to expect much of a move.
A good cold front should cool the water and make grouper more comfortable. After that they should become a common catch in water as shallow as 15-20 feet through November and maybe December depending on how cold it gets.
Once water temperatures move below 60, most grouper return to deeper water. Their preferred temperature range is roughly 64-76.
Flats fishing has been good, considering the circumstances. Redfish have remained in large schools. You may not be able to see them well in dirty water, but they will eat once you find them.
Live pinfish have been the bait of choice for redfish. Hook pinfish in the tail, and the cast will go farther because they are more aerodynamic when cast headfirst. The end with the hook and line attached stays toward you, so by putting the hook in the tail you assure a headlong and longer cast.
Many snook have moved into rivers and creeks. Some have been taken in nearly fresh water as they move inland. Spillways and even large drainage outfalls have produced some impressive snook recently.
On a recent rainy day, I spotted a dozen snook, some more than 10 pounds, at the mouth of a drainpipe several miles up into the Anclote River. The Lake Tarpon dam and the Allen's Creek Bridge at U.S. 19 are other potential hot spots. Just about anywhere fresh water meets saltwater might hold keeper snook.
One good blast of cool air and the fall run should kick fishing into high gear. It's time to dust off the gear and get ready for some of the year's best fishing.
-- Ed Walker charters out of Palm Harbor. Call (727) 944-3474 or e-mail TarponEd@aol.com.