By DAVE MISTRETTA
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 8, 2001
If you can stand the heat, you'll have fish for your kitchen
Fantastic fishing is in your forecast if you can tolerate the heat.
Inshore action has peaked, bringing in migratory tarpon. They can be found schooling along the beaches in mass quantities. The best time to spot them is in the early morning hours. A few large cobia have been loitering around these same schools, adding an extra surprise.
Shark activity has gained momentum. The warmer the water, the better the shark fishing. Strong tides seem to work best. Dead shad or fresh ladyfish drifting in the current with a combo of chopped chum will get their attention. About a mile from shore has had the best reports, including many of the old kingfish hot spots such as Blind Pass, Sand Key and Honeymoon Island.
Now is the time for great bridge fishing. The second half of the outgoing tide has produced hefty snook from around the pilings. Schools of jacks have joined in on the action, attacking just about anything that wiggles.
Offshore, red grouper action has been getting better as the summer strengthens. Reports have been common at depths ranging from 80 to 120 feet of water.
An occasional kingfish or dolphin fish can be caught if a free-lined bait is offered. Look for hard (rocky) bottom on the sonar. Surprisingly enough, there is more rocky bottom than sand. Drift fishing is my favorite way to work these depths. The wind moving the boat allows more area to be covered. When a rod doubles over with a big one, toss out a marker buoy and then return. More fish usually are hiding in that same spot. After a couple of drifts, if action slows, record your coordinates, so they can be used another day. That's how many local hot spots have been found.
Amberjack still are hanging around many of the deep-water wrecks. Try slow-trolling a few live baits over these structures, if you want a back-breaking fight. To avoid cutoffs, a piece of wire leader is advised, since the barracuda population is abundant.
-- Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 595-3276, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
(All phone numbers begin with 727 unless noted)
SATURDAY-SUNDAY: Brandon Bass Bandits 2-Day Tournament, Lake Kissimmee, Brandon, (813) 654-4190.
SATURDAY: Fly-casting, Bill Jackson's, 576-4169.
SATURDAY: Fly-casting, World Class Outfitters, (813) 968-3736.
SATURDAY: Fly-casting, Saltwater Fly Fisherman, 443-5000.
TODAY: Friday race, Clearwater, 447-6000.
TODAY-SUNDAY: Boat show, Boater's World, Tampa, put on by Outcast Watersports Inc., (813) 620-0997.
SATURDAY: Safe Boating Course, Clearwater, 462-6368.
SATURDAY: Trans Bay Epilepsy race, from St. Petersburg to Apollo Beach, (813) 251-1158.
SATURDAY: Bay Race, Tampa, (813) 645-8377.
SATURDAY: Guided hike, Brooker Creek Preserve; 943-4003.
SATURDAY: North America Butterfly Count, Weeki Wachee Preserve, (352) 592-4949.
SATURDAY: Map reading/hiking event, Florida Orienteering, Rock Springs Run State Reserve, (407) 672-7070.
-- Send information to Outdoors, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. All items must be typed and arrive 10 days before the event. Include event name, time, address and phone number.
WHAT: Honeymoon Island's ninth annual Catch and Release Snook Fishing Tournament.
WHERE: Honeymoon Island State Park, Dunedin.
PRIZES: Prizes will be awarded for first through third place in three age categories: 12 and younger (entering any fish species caught and released), 13-17 (entering only snook) and 18 and older (entering only snook). Participants may fish from shore or wade-fish only. No vessels of any kind may be used in the tournament.
FOR INFORMATION: Call (727) 469-5942.