© St. Petersburg Times, published February 22, 2003
It is amazing what a few warm days and an increase of a few degrees in water temperature can do for bottom fishing. Calm days almost tempted me to make the run offshore into depths of more than 100 feet, but the little bit of common sense I have prevailed. I decided to start in 60 feet, where we had been getting fish to bite eventually the past few weeks when the weather allowed us to leave the dock.
Our first stop was a ledge about 50 feet long, with potholes on top and a deep undercut along it. Baiting hooks with squid and Spanish sardines cut in half brought in four gags in the 20- to 21-inch range as soon as the lines hit bottom. The action was nonstop for an hour, with fish of all kinds hauled in. Then the action stopped, as if someone threw a switch. Usually that indicates a shark has been attracted to the commotion. But with the water as cold as it is, shark activity is minimal, and the predator often is a large gag grouper. Switching to pinfish with their tails removed yielded two gags in the 30-inch range before the big one was hooked and broke off to stop the bite.
The scenario was the same at most of our stops and helped me forget some of the recent slow days.
-- 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.