By DAVE ZALEWSKI
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 3, 2001
The saying "the best things in life are free" especially holds true for May, the transitional month when fishing from the beach heats up. Trout, snook, pompano, flounder and other species return from their winter homes in the bays to the swash channel that parallels the beach.
Tackle for beach fishing is simple; 10-pound spinning gear is probably the best all-around outfit. Baits can be natural or artificial depending on what species you are targeting. Any of the artificials employed on the flats work well, with small jigs and plastic shrimp accounting for great catches. Using what is on site for live bait is a best choice. Sand flea rakes can be purchased at most tackle shops and will give many years of service. Every fish that swims the beach can be caught on sand fleas. Live and frozen shrimp also work well. Numerous small baitfish inhabit the area where the surf breaks on the shoreline and can be used. Some things to avoid are casting out over the fish. Most fish are right at your feet, not on the sandbar on the other side of the swash channel. Light tackle is a must; 10-pound test line and leader are usually sufficient. The smallest split shot or sliding sinker should be used along with a 1/0 live bait hook. And even if the fish don't bite, the trip to the beach is well worth the drive.
- Capt. Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Maderia Beach and can be reached at (727) 397-8815 or by e-mail at email@example.com.