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Captain's corner

By DAVE MISTRETTA

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 3, 2000


October is the month that anything can happen. Cool fronts begin to ease their way down, blanketing the warm gulf waters, bringing down the temperature. With the season opening on Oct. 15, the arrivals of buoys from stone crab traps are soon to come. Thousands of the traps will be laid on hard-bottom areas along our coastline, creating a massive chum slick. The stone crabbers' favorite bait is fish, which sends an odor for miles. Each trap will entice small schools of baitfish into its proximity, creating an easy ambush for larger predators. The combination of the cooling water and this monstrous chum slick will have giant kingfish ravaging everything in their path within a few days.

This also helps anglers to profit on the cobia migration as these brown bombers move south. Curious fish like the cobia will circle floating buoys for hours, making it that much easier for sight casting. Sharks also add to the action. Their keen sense of smell picks up the scent of the traps, luring these cartilage fish to the vicinity.

Tripletail is another species that comes to mind when thinking of floating objects. This tasty game fish will hang just beneath the surface and linger around buoys for days. A free-lined live shrimp is a guaranteed hookup. Stone crab traps enable fishermen to capitalize on great action, but remember it's unlawful to handle or meddle with any of these commercial buoys. The livelihood of our commercial fishing industry depends on these strictly enforced laws. The Florida Marine Patrol will monitor illegal activity 24 hours a day.

- Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 595-3276, or e-mail sales@jawstoo.com.

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