By DOUG HEMMER
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 15, 2000
This past week fishing has been red hot one day and cold the next. Fishing during the transition period means having to follow the movement of game fish as they leave the beach area and work their way through the residential canals until they reach upper Tampa Bay. The redfish are balling up and feeding heavily in preparation for their October disappearing act. These fish never were in the same area two days in a row, probably because of the movement of the bait fish. We had to go looking for fish over the oyster bars during the peak high tide. We found redfish and snook working the edges of the oyster bars and most of the fish were caught using small corked pinfish. The trick to having a successful trip was hitting as many oyster bars as possible before the tide got too low to fish.
The westerly winds that blew for a few days made sight fishing for tarpon along the beach nearly impossible. If the wind returns to an easterly flow and the baby threadfin schools are still around, the tarpon might return for a short while. In the meantime, you should be able to catch mackerel and sharks that are feeding on the threadies. The best time to fish the threadfins school is when the birds are flocking close to the water picking up pieces of bait.
Grouper fishing in Tampa Bay is starting to pick up. Look for the action to pick up when the water temperature reaches the mid-70s. On some trips the grouper were inside the Sunshine Skyway bridge and on other trips we found them closer to Egmont Key. Most of the grouper were in the 24- to 30-inch range. They seem to bite best during the slacking of the tide. The easiest way to find some structure is to troll the old Skyway bridge piers. This area is full of rocks, metal and grouper. Keep your eye on the recorder when trolling. You might find a big pile of rock that's covered with fish. As we move into October, look for schools of redfish to head offshore to join the big schools that will show up before the kingfish run. They will be replaced on the flats by large yellow mouth trout. The snook should have reached the rivers and the residential canals. October is not too early to start trolling for kingfish. It seems that every year someone finds the early arrivals but the word doesn't leak out for a week or two. So it might be a good idea to lay out those flat lines during grouper trips because you might be the lucky one to find the early arriving kingfish schools.
- Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.