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Captain's corner

By WADE OSBORNE

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 7, 2000


What makes fishing so great this time of year is the fact snook are starting their fall migration and are sharing many mangroves, oyster beds and grass flats with redfish.

Scaled sardines are plentiful and remain the bait of choice. Set up in an area and chum with live bait. If you don't get the familiar popping sounds of feeding snook and redfish within 15-20 minutes, move to another spot. Try mangrove points, edges of oyster beds and grass-flat potholes. Once fish start to boil and feed on the chum, cast a hooked live bait to that spot and be ready. Usually, the next pop will be on the end of your line within seconds. This is an exciting way to fish, but don't overdo it with live chum. You want to keep the fish interested, not make them full.

Spinning gear of 8 to 10 pounds matched with 71/2-foot rods allow for the longest cast with sardines. A 3-foot section of 30-pound fluorocarbon leader and a 1/0 circle wide hook completes the setup. When fishing a strong current, hook the bait in the clear cartilage in the nose in front of the eyes and cast up-current so it drifts back to the strike zone. When fishing around oysters or grass, place a cork above the bait to keep it from hanging up and hook the bait in the pectoral fin. This increases movement and more flash.

If artificials are your preference, it's hard to beat a gold spoon or a hard-bodied topwater walking bait. Topwater baits work best early or late in the day; gold spoons work best when the sun is high enough to create flash as they are retrieved.

- Wade Osborne operates Afishionado Guide Services in Tampa. Call (813) 286-3474.

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