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Captain's corner

By ED WALKER

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 27, 2001


Fishing was incredible on a recent trip to a wreck in 85 feet. As soon as the boat was anchored, a herd of amberjack gobbled up every blue runner we put over the side. Dangling a blue runner from the end of a rod sent the AJ's crashing to the surface, fighting over the bait.

After a while everyone on board had tired arms and did not want another jack. As an experiment, we hung chum bags over the side to see how the jacks responded. They didn't seem to care, but after a few minutes good-sized mangrove snapper rose amid the mass of jacks.

We free-lined small pieces of cut bait into the chum on 12-pound spinning rods without weights or leaders. By drifting the cut bait at the same sink rate as the chum, we coaxed the mangroves into darting between the amberjack to eat. Many broke us off, and several were eaten by monster amberjacks, but we caught our limit in 90 minutes.

Carrying chum and hanging a block or two over the side anywhere you go may open surprising opportunities. This was the first time I had seen snapper come to the surface from such depths, but not the first time something unexpected was drawn by chumming.

- Ed Walker charters out of Palm Harbor. Call (727) 944-3474 or e-mail TarponEd@aol.com.

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