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Captain's corner


© St. Petersburg Times, published October 9, 2000

Massive schools of juvenile Spanish sardines are working their way toward our coastline.

Spanish mackerel, bonita and blue runners are gorging themselves on these tasty bait fish.

As cool fronts pass and water temperatures drop to the 70s, expect the bait masses to crowd the beaches. Having nowhere else to go, their only escape from predators is the security of our shoreline.

Once the sardines have been pushed up against the beach, pelicans will join the party, satisfying their appetites. This will allow anglers to locate these schools easier, since the birds can be spotted while they're diving.

Right behind all this action, the king mackerel will arrive. Thirty-plus-pound smokers will soon be attacking the larger fish that prey on these small sardines. This is the time to slow troll an oversized blue runner or small Spanish mackerel around the outskirts of the feeding frenzy.

If you would like to target an even larger game fish, you won't have to travel far from these ambushed schools. Sand bar sharks, commonly called dusky sharks, reaching lengths of 10-plus feet and 500 pounds, will be lingering close by. Their favorite food is bonita and, for the next month, these giant creatures will be taking advantage of all the action.

A free-lined bonita drifting in the current is sure to get their attention. Use caution when targeting a fish this size; they are fearless and could very easily damage a smaller boat.

Dave Mistretta charters the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 595-3276, or e-mail

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