tampabay.com

Captain's Corner

Gamefish are fair game, thanks to unusually warm water.

By DOUG HEMMER
Published January 17, 2007


What's biting: Unusually warm water has put most gamefish in a feeding mode. Snook are feeding during the warmest parts of the day. They can be found near the mouths of rivers and creeks. Look in the potholes just outside the entrance. Lower tides will make it easier to see the fish. Redfish are hanging in the mullet schools. Jigs, gold spoons and topwater plugs have been the most productive. Trout are feeding over grass flats that are 3 to 6 feet deep. Motor oil jigs dragged across the bottom will draw the most strikes. Look for grass flats that have cormorants or dolphins working the area. Silver trout are schooled in the deep holes next to the flats. The best action has been in 18 to 22 feet of water close to a bridge and with a hard bottom. Mackerel and bluefish can be found just off the beach from Clearwater to St. Pete Beach. Target areas where the birds are flocking over the surface. Trolling for grouper inside Tampa Bay has been on and off. The best bites are over the dropoff of the shipping channel. The end of a tide through the start of the next one is the best time to target. Large crank baits and oversized jigs work best when trolled just off the bottom. The artificial reefs in Tampa Bay are holding good numbers of mangrove snapper, sheepshead and small grouper. Cut shrimp and small pinfish are all that's needed to get the bite going.

Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.