By DOUG HEMMER
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 30, 2001
The large drainpipes that empty storm water into Tampa Bay can become hot spots after a strong downpour. Snook hang inside the opening of the pipes, a safe place to wait for Nile perch that get washed out of the nearby lakes and ponds. When it rains the snook move outside the pipe and feed on perch being washed out. The bigger pipes have a stronger water flow and hold the most fish. The east side of St. Petersburg produces the biggest fish.
The best bait is a free-lined perch. They can be netted near the opening of the drainpipe. I use a black-backed, yellow-bellied, broken-back crank bait. The feel of the strike and the ability to move freely from spot to spot make this lure my top choice. Start right after the rain stops. Most spots can be fished from land. If it starts to lightning you can wait safely in your car or go home. That's what I like about this style of fishing.
Some of the best pipes are underwater and are found during a strong runoff. Look for a river of boiling water coming under the sea wall. Snook season opens Saturday. Action should be steady until the first cold front.
- Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.