By DAVE ZALEWSKI
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 8, 2001
The great weather last week gave us a sneak preview of spring. Gag grouper were active in more shallow depths with catches reported as shallow as 20 feet. The best depths continued to be 50 to 60 feet. Until this warming trend, we were taking our pinfish for a long ride into the gulf and back to shore unharmed. With the increase in water temperature the gags are chasing a live bait, and it pays to put a live bait down whenever the bite slows. Squirrelfish have been effective for the larger fish, especially if part of their tail is removed before sending them to the bottom.
Red grouper on the hard bottom areas in 80 to 90 feet have begun to move back to their usual haunts on the swiss cheese hard bottom. Live baits are not working as well on the reds as they are on the gags, but with the warming trend, it will pay to try them.
Kingfish and Spanish mackerel showed up in numbers that warranted spending some time seeking them. The fish have been scattered around the wrecks and shipping channel markers, and those trolling spoons and plugs have done well because they can cover more area than the live baiters. Respool reels, check drags and inventory tackle as soon as the winds die and be prepared for a great spring season.
- Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.