© St. Petersburg Times, published December 8, 2002
Short periods of daylight, cold fronts, high winds and water temperatures in the low 60s have effectively ended our kingfish season. There are, however, a few stragglers who are best targeted by deploying a flat line while taking advantage of the winter gag grouper season that has kicked into high gear for the same reasons.
The band of scattered limestone formations that parallels the coast in 20-45 feet of water becomes a winter home to gag grouper who are forced to move inshore seeking food that isnonexistent in the deeper waters.
Stone crab season began Oct. 15 and the same depths are dotted by the floats that are attached to the traps. The crabs inhabit the same limestone areas as gag grouper and the floats help locate concentrations of fish. Each crabber has an assigned color combination. Some place their traps in an easy to relocate straight line. This results in some of the traps being placed over sandy areas that are not as effective.
Other crabbers utilize plotters and depthfinders to ensure their traps will be placed only over the rocky areas. Their floats will be placed in zigzag patterns. When coming across a random pattern of the same color buoys or an area that has the buoys of several crabbers, stop and fish.
-- 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.