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The storm . . . after the calm


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 6, 2001

On many recent days, high winds and rough seas have kept anglers in port. Now that the winds have stopped blowing and the seas have calmed, bottom fishing and kingfishing have become as hot as they get.

Live baiters and hardware trollers are experiencing great fishing at all of the traditional spots to the south. The fishing has not been that good north of John's Pass, but the fish are migrating northward.

The shipping channel, Betty Rose and 10 Fathom Wreck have large concentrations of fish. "The early bird gets the worm" is an old adage and holds true for these locations. On Wednesday, we arrived later than many other boats, and there was no question as to where the 10 Fathom Wreck was located. Nine boats could be seen trolling hardware and live baits on this popular location.

Radio reports indicated that the bite had slowed, probably because of the large concentration of boats. But we fished a series of ledges 1.25 miles to the north of the wreck with great success. Many times, when areas become congested with boat traffic, the pelagic fish will seek nearby areas with a concentration of bait. When wrecks and artificial reefs are covered by boats, chances are the fish will move to an adjacent area, and it pays to begin your trolling well before you arrive at your chosen spot.

Gag grouper fishing remains productive, with the 60- to 80-foot depths holding some impressive specimens. With the warming water, the fish are becoming more active, and live baits are producing great catches. Pinfish, squirrelfish and cigar minnows are the baits of choice.

- Capt. Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach and can be reached at (727) 397-8815 or by e-mail at

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