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Consistent warmth is catch

By STEVE BOWLER

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 17, 2001


Persistent cold fronts keep pushing through our area, and the much-needed rain is welcome.

But we would like some stable weather so we can stay on the water for more than one or two days a week.

With the scenario we have, it's not looking good for the weekend warriors. Offshore, the winds consistently have been in the 20-knot range, and that's just a little too much to have fun. It hasn't been much better inshore.

With a 30-60 percent chancefor rain, you may get a few hours of fishing in between the storms or wind. If you brave the elements, you may come up with some nice catches of trout, snook and redfish.

Last week, before the front, the fishing was getting great, with a good number of anglers scoring on large trout, reds and snook. There even were stories of some large cobia showing up on the flats to the south of Gulf Harbors.

This time of year, the parade of pelagic species starts its trek north as the gulf water warms king mackerel, cobia and Spanish mackerel. Even bluefish and tripletail show up, so you never know what you will see.

Look for the trout on the deeper flats around Anclote Island and the North Sand Bar for starters. Try the flats off Hudson and around the Sea Pines Tripod, as well as the flats off Howard Park and around the Power Plant.

Redfish were in the shallow back bays around the oyster bars doing the shuffle from bar to bar in search of food. White bait had started to show up consistently until the change of weather, but it should be back with the warming water.

Be patient. Try grassy areas in about 4 to 6 feet of water and use a net that's big and heavy so you can get the bait. The snook action was pretty good and should be getting better every day. Try fishing areas with moving water, such as creeks, residential canals and area rivers.

Live bait has been the key to the best action, but don't think that artificials won't work.Use top-water plugs, soft plastics or jigs and one of my favorites -- a rattle trap.

Offshore, things are not looking good until the weather breaks long enough for you to make a run, but things were starting to heat up just before last week.

As the weather slows, look for the water to clear up and the bait to move in with Spanish and king mackerel, bonita and grouper.

Fish Tales Guide Service Inc. Capt. Steve Bowler can be reached at (727) 861-3474.

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