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Cool water makes for happy fish


© St. Petersburg Times, published July 29, 2000

Fishing has a lot in common with the weather; it can be good one day and bad the next.

This time every year we have to bear the hot and humid air as well as the passing thunderstorms.

But every dark cloud has a silver lining.

Without the rain, our water temperatures would be higher than they are now, limiting back-country fishing to creeks and bays that have a spring to keep the water cool. Anglers who use live bait will have to keep an eye on their temperature gauge and the live well if they want to keep their bait alive.

In some places on the flats, water temperatures can surpass 90 degrees, lowering the oxygen levels of the water and killing the bait you worked so hard to catch. To beat the heat, pull out the go-to lures and use artificials.

Fish early in the morning to get the most out of your day, using jigs, plugs, jerk baits or whatever works. Forget about spending two valuable hours searching for bait and hit your favorite fishing hole at dawn. Snook fishing has remained consistent up and down the Suncoast with the area beaches being the hot spots.

Try Honeymoon Island, Three Rooker bar, Anclote Island and the north sand bar.

It's most productive to get out early in order to beat the crowds and fish the dropoffs where the current is the strongest. Work these areas with a jig rigged with a shad body or a soft plastic bait that resembles a bait fish or shrimp. I like to rig an artificial shrimp, Carolina style, using a 1/4- or 1/2-ounce worm weight in front of a small bead. Tie your leader to the main line so the knot will stop the bead and the weight from sliding down the leader. Your artificial shrimp should be tied on with a loop knot.

You can use a small swivel rather than a knot to stop the bead, but I believe in line-to-line fishing; less hardware will get more bites.

This allows your weight to be on the bottom and your shrimp to drift in the current.

Snook fishing at night in residential canals has been good as well. Especially in Gulf Harbors around lighted docks, pitching live or artificial shrimp with no weight or cork. You will have to up-size your tackle if you want to get one to the boat.

Other canals producing fish as well are Sea Ranch, Sea Pines and Hudson Beach. Some cobia have been seen around the mouth of the Cotee River from Green Key to Double Hammock.

Spanish mackerel have been spotted around Anclote Island in as much as 30 feet of water, chasing schools of glass minnows.

Trout and redfish have been very productive in areas with spring-fed creeks like Green Key, Manor Beach and Fillmans.

Use jigs, plugs or soft plastics to cover the most ground and get the most strikes.

- Capt. Steve Bowler can be reached at (727) 861-FISH (3474) or

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