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Captain's corner

By JAY MASTRY

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 1, 2001


With the arrival of the new year, there are new regulations to remember. As of today, black and gag grouper must be 22 inches to keep. Reds and other species of grouper remain at 20. These laws pertain to recreational fisherman in the Gulf of Mexico. Any five grouper in the aggregate make up the bag limit.

But until the wind lays down and seas calm, my time might be more effectively spent catching up on maintenance I have put off. I'll change that trailer tire I suspect has a slow leak. It's a good time to replace that VHF antenna I whacked on a low bridge and rigged with a splint about a year ago. Because I'm not using as much live bait and getting by with one bait-well pump, I'll replace the other that works about half the time. Repacking the bearings and replacing the winch strap on my trailer are preventive maintenance measures. Now would be a good time to switch out fuel filters and make an appointment to replace my water pump.

And maybe I'll get some bull cleaner and remove that yellow stain or read those owner manuals and figure out all the functions my navigational aids could provide.

Then when conditions improve I'll be ready to head offshore and do some grouper digging. If I can't get there, I know sheepshead won't let me down. January is when we generally catch a bunch, and 2001 shouldn't be any different.

- Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.

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