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Fishing about to heat up

By MIKE MANNING

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 17, 2001


The spring-like weather over the past week has made a dramatic difference.

The afternoon temperatures are reaching the 80s. This is a sure sign that spring is around the corner.

When the season arrives, you will begin to see redfish and snook start to move out of their winter homes. They will be heading to the shallow flats in search of the afternoon's warmth. These fish will not roam too far from the safety of deep water. Look for flats near the channel, mouths of creeks and rivers.

Redfish will move up into shallow water to warm their backs.

You occasionally may see these fish in less than a foot of water. When redfish are at that depth, they easily are spooked. When angling for them, take a stealth approach.

Getting out of your boat and wading in the water can give you a great advantage. Top-water plugs, gold spoons or small jigs rigged under a float will do the trick.

You may catch a snook or a gator trout in these same areas.

The best action around has been for trout.

Trout have been in large schools in grassy flats with sandy potholes in 2-6 feet of water. The flats around the Intracoastal Waterwayfrom Clearwater to Anclote Keyhas been the prime areas.

On a recent boat trip with Gary Gehler of Wisconsin, we passed 60 trout while fishing these areas. Most of the action came on a 1/4-ounce jig with a six-inch silver flake jerk worm. Live jumbo shrimp under a float or popping cork will do the trick.

There has been plenty of catch and release action with jack crevelle.

Jacks are not a good fish to eat, but pound-for-pound are one of the toughest that roams the flats. They will eat just about anything in your tackle box -- from top water plugs to jigs to spoons. Jacks will feed on live bait such as shrimp, greenbacks and pinfish.

Lake Tarpon Capt. Lenny Crispino of Tarpon Tom's reports that the large-mouth bass fishing has heated up with the warmer temperatures. There has been lots of action on live wild shiners fished under a cork in 6-8 feet of water.

This week, several fish have been brought aboard weighing 9-11 pounds. And there's been good action on Carolina rigged plastic crawdads fished around points.

Capt. Mike Manning Charters out of Port Richey. He can be reached at (727) 848-0795.

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