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Captain's Corner

What's hot: Before the winds started blowing, requiring us to stay in port, the answer was "everything."

By DAVE ZALEWSKI
Published May 10, 2007


What's hot: Before the winds started blowing, requiring us to stay in port, the answer was "everything." Spanish mackerel were literally "on the beach, " with great catches being made within a mile of shore by trollers pulling small spoons and plugs and live baiters who chose to anchor and bring the fish to the boat with chum bags and small slivers of cut sardines. Schoolie kingfish were numerous near most of the buoys in the shipping channel and hard-bottom areas just to the south, such as Short Jack Hole. Cobia made a late-season showing and were seen and caught on the Pinellas County mitigation reefs and most of the wrecks and artificial reefs. Bottom fishing for grouper and snapper improved dramatically with the warmer water and abundance of bait showing up. Light winds and calm seas made it tempting to run far offshore in the search for larger fish. Most of these forays into the 100-foot plus depths resulted in disappointing catches.

Tip: Deploying two stinger-rigged flat lines while bottom fishing, one with a live bait such as a Spanish sardine, hardtail or threadfin and one with a frozen sardine, can often result in hookups with a variety of fish. The live bait will stay near the surface and attract mackerel, kingfish, cobia and tuna. The dead bait will sink about halfway to the bottom if there is any current and attract both bottom fish and pelagics.