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Captain's corner


© St. Petersburg Times, published August 26, 2000

Tampa Bay has large schools of baby threadfins hugging the edges of the shipping channel. Grouper, mackerel and mangrove snapper are following the bait as they drift toward the Gulf of Mexico.

To find a good area for grouper and snapper, troll the edges of the ship channel using a No. 3 planer, 40 feet of 80-pound leader and a large crank bait. While trolling, crisscross the drop-off of the channel until you catch a grouper. Even if the grouper is too small to keep, you will want to mark the spot because snapper hang on the same bottom as grouper. Jug the spot before anchoring slightly up-current.

Fish with light tackle for the snapper, using shrimp or white bait, and use heavier gear rigged with a pinfish for the grouper.

Mackerel have been easy to find. Birds will flockover the bait schools that are being attacked by mackerel. These schools are usually moving fast, making it difficult to target them with live bait.

Try running to the schools that have mackerel striking the surface and cast a small spoon rigged to light wire over the commotion. Using a fast retrieve just under the surface will draw the most strikes. When the action stops, follow the birds to the next feeding frenzy.

- Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.

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