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Captain's corner

By JAY MASTRY

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 28, 2001


Water temperatures are still in the kingfish comfort zone, and fish are available. Northwest winds from a recent cold front scattered bait pods and dirtied water along the beaches, but offshore action wasn't affected much.The Whistler Buoy and markers 1 and 2 in the shipping channel attracted large schools of Spanish sardines, and the ravenous kings were there. East winds since the cold front will improve conditions. Schools of bait will knot up and return to calm nearshore waters. There were smoker kings over 30 pounds caught 11/2 miles off the beach last weekend. If offshore winds prevail, don't overlook nearshore hard bottom.

Early season tarpon have been trickling in to tease us. Though we won't see the large schools migrating along the gulf beaches for a few weeks, early arrivals have found their way inside bays and backwaters. If looking to battle one of the fiercest game fish, gather some shad. Soaked on the bottom wherever you spot rolling fish, they'll often produce when other baits won't.

Areas to keep an eye on for early tarpon action are Mermaid, Rocky, and Gadsen points. The Bayside, Gandy and Skyway bridges will hold fish, especially near the upcoming full moon. Areas near the entrances to Port of Tampa and Port Manatee are popular hangouts as well.

- Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.

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