By DOUG HEMMER
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 21, 2001
When severe weather causes fishing conditions to change, you will need to find areas of strong tidal movement that flush out tainted water and replace it with normal levels of salinity. Passes that lead to the gulf will be the first areas to check out.
John's Pass, Pass-a-Grille and Blind Pass waters have cleared during the week and should be productive during hard, outgoing tides.
Large schools of snook are moving into the residential canals closest to the beach areas. They will hang out for a week or two before moving to the bridges that lead to the beach. These are big, breeder females in the 15- to 25-pound range. Trout rods won't pull them out of the pilings. Use tarpon or grouper gear with at least 50-pound test and 80-pound leader.
Grunts are the best bait. Big snook will check out a bait for some time before striking. Grunts last longer because the smaller fish can't eat them. Hook the grunt in the mouth and out through the nose. Use enough weight to keep your bait close to the fenders. Weights that are too heavy will bury in the sand when the current is strong. When the tide starts to slack, switch to a free-lined rig and cast up-current of the pilings. Let the bait swim to the bottom before reeling in the slack line. When the bait comes back to the surface on the down-current side of the pilings, you will need to reel in and repeat.
Water temperatures have dropped about 10 degrees since last week. This should help the trout fishing in all areas of the bay. The big ones won't be far from the snook. When the snook cross the flats on their way up the bay, the big trout will leave the pack and stay on the flats until winter. Topwater plugs, strawberry jigs and free-lined shrimp are effective.
-- Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.
(All phone numbers begin with 727 unless noted)
THIS MONTH: Snook tournament, Hurricane Pass Anglers Club, Ozona, 785-3018. SATURDAY: Old Salt Inshore Tournament, Bay Pines Marine, St. Petersburg, proceeds benefit Big Brothers, Big Sister, Old Salt Fishing Club, 397-9835.
SATURDAY: Fly-casting, World Class Outfitters, (813) 968-3736
SATURDAY: Fly-casting, Saltwater Fly Fisherman, Clearwater, 443-5000.
TODAY: Florida Women's Sailing Association Championship, St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 822-3873. TONIGHT: USF Sail Club meeting, Bayboro Campus, 821-4840. SATURDAY: Safe-boating course, Clearwater, 462-6368.
SATURDAY: Discover sailing, Clearwater Community Center, session consists of four Saturdays, 462-6368. SATURDAY: Sail with braille, Boca Ciega Yacht Club, community project to help blind/visually-impaired youngsters to experience sailing, 864-0352. SATURDAY: Dunedin Cup, Dunedin Boat Club, 772-1515. SATURDAY: Laser and 420 Youth Regatta, Clearwater Yacht Club, 447-6000. SATURDAY: Offshore series, Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club, 595-8206. SATURDAY: Clearwater Margarita Race and Raftup, Windjammers of Clearwater Sailing Club, 593-1231. SATURDAY-SUNDAY: Neubauer Regatta, Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club, Treasure Island, launches out of the Admiral Farragut Sailing Center, 367-4511. SATURDAY-SUNDAY: Flying Scot Regionals, Davis Island Yacht Club, Tampa, (813) 251-1158.
SATURDAY: Florida Trail Association Suncoast Chapter meeting, Werner-Boyce Park, New Port Richey, 577-7783
SATURDAY: Field trip to Saddle Creek Park, Clearwater Audubon Society, meet in the northeast corner of Clearwater Mall, 786-2764.
SATURDAY: Native Plant Society/Hernando Audubon Society work day, Chinsegut Nature Center, Brooksville, (352) 754-6722.
-- See Sunday's Outdoors for a list of next week's events. Send information to Outdoors, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. All items must be typed and arrive 10 days before the event. Include event name, time, address and phone number.