By DOUG HEMMER
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 15, 2002
Dirty water becomes big factor
Areas that held fish before Wednesday's cold front may become bare if the water gets dirty. It may take a few days for the tides to flush out the dirt and return the area to normal.
Try fishing in spots that were blocked from the wind. Residential canals, back bay lagoons and harbors usually have buildings or large trees surrounding them. The water is deeper and has less tidal flow. Fish will congregate in these spots if the water is cleaner than surrounding areas.
Snook fishing has been good on the east side of Tampa Bay. Cockroach Bay, Bishops Harbor, Terra Ceia and Anna Maria have snook near the mangroves and oyster bars during the higher tides. As the tide falls look in the potholes near the edge of the flats. Some of the best action was in the mullet schools. On the west side of the bay, most of the snook were in the docks and at Weedon Island.
Redfish has been hit and miss. Again, the best action is in the mullet. Small pinfish under a cork will last longer than whitebait or shrimp. When using whitebait, toss a few handfuls in the mullet and cast a free-lined bait where you see a surface strike. Give the bait enough slack to keep it swimming naturally. When the line starts moving fast, reel up the slack until the rod tip bends before setting the hook.
The edges of the flats are full of trout from 1 to 5 pounds. Drift areas that have grass spots in 3 to 4 feet of water. Drag jigs near the grass until you catch a trout. Work that area with whitebait or small pinfish and grunts if your looking to catch the big ones. The most productive spots were the ones that had schools of whitebait flashing over the grass. Trout are catch and release until Jan 1.
Fishing offshore after a front can be tough. Kingfish will move into the ship channel, Egmont hole and to deeper water. Grouper will leave the hard bottom and small ledges. Look for a few days of good grouper action on the larger ledges and reefs. Use squid to put some smell in the water before sending down the live baits. This will help draw in the fish that can't see a live bait.
Before the front, grouper were in 30 to 40 feet northwest of John's Pass. Work your way out if 40 feet is still dirty. Keep an eye on the water. When it starts looking clean you'll probably find fish. Small kings were at the end of the ship canal and just north of the Whistler. The big fish were in Tampa Bay and close to the beach.
This weekend's big kingfish probably will come from the shipping channel.
-- Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.