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Time near for king mackerel


© St. Petersburg Times, published October 13, 2000

Spanish mackerel are active at the artificial reefs off the beaches. This means it won't be long before the fall king-mackerel season begins. The kings aren't huge and they're not yet plentiful, but they are here.

For red grouper, the best depth is about 70 feet. Gags aren't as abundant as reds, but they are catchable. Get a chum basket and fill it with your favorite frozen chum and lower it down to get things started. Always use cut sardines or squid first until the bites drop off, then lower down live pinfish or bluerunners.

Inshore, redfish action is spotty. One day, the schools are thick around the mangrove islands, and the next day, you can't find a red. The packs are spooky and on the move, so if you find a school, get out of the boat and chase them on foot. A well-placed corked pinfish or whitebait will draw a strike.

Speckled trout are plentiful and large. Any grass flat in the 3- to 4-foot depth will have fish. Drift quietly over the flat in the early morning with your favorite topwater bait. As the sun starts casting shadows, switch to a sinking or suspending crankbait.

Snook are making their way back from their summer haunts, stopping at oyster bars, pot holes and just about any swash channel where they can pick up an easy meal.

For waders, the Skyway area has plenty to offer. For night anglers, check out the local piers. Mackerel, trout, snook and shark are active.

Party boats are catching Key West grunts, grouper, sea bass and snapper.

-- Captain Rick Frazier runs Lucky Dawg Charters in St. Petersburg, (727)448-3817 or e-mail

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