By GARY FOLDEN
© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 5, 2001
Summer fishing has come to Clearwater. Water temperatures are at their peak and the fish are responding with a lack of aggression to feed.
Grouper fishing is slow. They become lethargic in the warm water and are difficult to coax into a prolonged bite. Even live bait cannot guarantee success. Grouper's larger cousins, the Goliath grouper (jewfish), are tearing up tackle on some reefs. On a recent charter, we had to leave a spot because these behemoths would not allow us to land many of the reef fish we would hook. Watching a 200-pound Goliath grouper devour a fish boatside is quite a spectacle.
Spanish mackerel and kingfish are in the area but their numbers are small. Barracuda are populating almost every artificial reef off the Pinellas coast and are best caught with a slow trolled thread herring. A careful release is recommended.
Inshore fishing can be difficult in the summer heat, too. Trout are the most cooperative, especially around the deeper grass areas. Redfish remain elusive in the Clearwater area and snook fishing is best at night.
Patience is certainly a virtue when fishing in the hot Florida summers.
- Capt. Gary Folden charters out of Clearwater and can be reached at (727) 585-8544 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.