By LARRY HOFFMAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 22, 2000
The beginning of autumn requires a change in tactics to include light tackle for Spanish mackerel. The transition to cooler water temperatures marks the best time to fish the coast. During the next two months, fishermen can target just about any species and expect good results.
Red and gag grouper move closer to shore. The gag fill ledges and hard-bottom areas that we have fished out over the summer. Amberjack move into 80 to 90 feet of water, over shipwrecks and springs. They feed more aggressively throughout the day. With migrating live bait, you will see Spanish mackerel show up first over near-shore reefs.
Shortly after Spanish mackerel arrive, we will see small kingfish. Trolling a No. 1 silver spoon on light spinning tackle produces good catches of mackerel. Another proven method is to anchor your boat near a reef, start a chum line and use small, live pilchards or threadfins free-lined out the transom of your boat. Rig a No. 1 long shank hook with a trailing treble hook to prevent short strikes.
The migration of kingfish should start in the beginning of October and peak in early November. Blue water fishing is very good in the fall as the pelagic fish -- wahoo, dolphin and tuna -- congregate off our coast for about six weeks. Start trolling efforts about 40 miles offshore and look for weed lines and floating objects. Concentrate trolling in water temperatures between 70-80 degrees.
Inshore action is hot with very good catches of snook, trout and redfish along the Intracoastal Waterway from Egmont Channel to Tarpon Springs. Flats fishing has been excellent around Fort De Soto and Boca Ciega Bay. Look for area passes to hold pompano. A quarter-ounce white or yellow jig tipped with shrimp is a proven technique for pompano. Cast your jigs along shorelines and be prepared for a quick set of the hook. Pompano are well-known bait stealers.
Anglers from the North Redingtion Fishing Pier report good Spanish mackerel, whiting and flounder. Snook action has been good in the evening.
-- Larry "Huffy" Hoffman charters the Enterprise out of Kingfish Wharf, Treasure Island. Call (727) 709-9396.