© St. Petersburg Times, published October 21, 2002
One of the tried and true spots for catching Spanish mackerel, kingfish, barracuda and cobia is the remains of a barge sunk in the 1960s, for many years a "secret" spot. The Betty Rose holds large quantities of the pelagics as they migrate south in the fall and north in the spring. The wreck usually can be pinpointed by the large schools of baitfish that hover over the structure.
The bait has declined noticeably, however, because of the new South County artificial reef less than a mile north.
Saltwater, currents and storms have taken their toll and the wreck has broken up and collapsed. The new reef, marked by a buoy in the center of the mile-sqaure permitted area and a mooring ball tethered to a large pile of culvert, bridge pilings and old concrete light poles, rises almost 25 feet in a pyramid shape. There are numerous satellite mounds.
It became evident as soon as we hit the water during a recent dive on the new reef where the bait was. A solid mass of threadfins, cigar minnows and Spanish sardines extended from top to bottom. The bait was so thick that it made it difficult to see the goliath grouper that have taken up residence with grouper, tropicals and mangrove snapper. The mid-water area above the structure revealed mackerel and barracuda.
-- Capt. Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach and can be reached at (727) 397-8815 or by e-mail at Luckytoo2@aol.com.