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Captain's Corner

By DOUG HEMMER

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 13, 2001


Live shrimp is still king when it comes to catching reds and snook. Killer bait such as scaled sardines and whities are hard to come by. Most docks on the main body of St. Petersburg are holding reds and snook. Live or artificial shrimp have been most productive when the tide is at its highest. I try to fish these areas during the last of the incoming tide through the start of the outgoing.

When fishing with live shrimp, it's always a good idea to chum the dock with diced shrimp to get the fish in a feeding mode. Then hook a medium shrimp in the tail and skip it under the dock you just chummed. Give each spot about 10 minutes before going to the next.

The best docks are at the bends and the ends of residential channels. The docks with big boats and that stick out into deep water can hold schools of fish. If I'm using artificial shrimp, I'll drift by a row of docks and skip the lure under each dock until we find fish. When you find a dock that's holding a lot of fish, take just a few. If you clean all the fish out of a dock, other fish won't return because the spot will look barren and unsafe.

My rods are rigged with 20-pound test braided line. The hooks for live shrimp are No. 1 and the artificial shrimp are medium size. Use at least 30-pound leader and keep the drags pretty tight. When a 10-pound snook pops your bait and smokes your line through three or four docks, then jumps a few times before escaping, you will know the thrill of dock hopping.

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

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