By DAVE MISTRETTA
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 5, 2003
Planning fishing trips offshore can be tricky in January. Cold fronts clashing with warm El Nino air have pretty much made five days a week windy and rough.
Keep a close eye on the weather if you venture offshore. Hypothermia can set in within minutes with water temperatures around 60 degrees, leaving little room for mistakes by anglers in small boats.
Carrying an emergency position-indicating radio beacon is the best chance for survival if stranded at sea. The Coast Guard can pick up EPIRB distress signals from eight satellites as well as from aircraft and boats, cutting down time in the water. Don't skimp on the purchase of these safety devices, because you really get what you pay for. The 406 Mhz is the best bet and costs about a $1,000. Be sure to mount an EPIRB in an accessible spot to save time in an emergency.
Teaming with another boat also is a good idea.
The bottom line: Use common sense when planning a trip offshore in the winter. And remember, there are too many nice days to go fishing in Florida to risk your life on a nasty day.
-- Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 595-3276, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .