© St. Petersburg Times, published October 19, 2001
Kingfish should move south soon
Fishing has been excellent inshore and offshore. Heavy winds have kept most fishermen at the dock, but when the weather is good, there is plenty to catch.
Kingfish are abundant north of Clearwater and should move south now that Red Tide seems to be breaking up. Great catches of kings have been taken off Tarpon Springs and as far north as Bayport. My parties landed several kings in the 35-pound class as well as many smaller kings and some large Spanish mackerel. Most of the action was in shallow water from 14 to 35 feet, over areas of hard bottom and around pods of threadfin herring.
Nearshore grouper fishing has been decent, although not quite what it should be by this time of year. Fall usually brings lots of gag grouper into the shallower rock piles and ledges. Higher-than-normal water temperatures are most likely the reason for the slow start of the grouper and kingfish seasons. As the water cools, action should improve.
Redfish have gathered in large schools on the flats, and when you find them, you can often catch all you want. Several times this week, we encountered schools of big reds and caught then two and three at a time. Use lots of live chum. Whitebait has been easy to catch, so take a few extra casts of the net to stock up on "chummers." When you find the school, toss handfuls of semi-wounded baitfish around the boat. Perhaps the best time to chum is while you are hooked up. Other fish often will follow a hooked fish to see what all the commotion is about. By feeding them, you can create a frenzy behind the boat and keep it going.
Snook action also has been good. Most have moved inland from the beaches and passes and taken up residence along mangrove shorelines, docks and oyster bars. Large live baits make a difference when trying to fool big snook. These fish often will ignore small baits drifted through their location but will pounce on a fat, scaled sardine. You may want to spend some time looking for baits that are bigger than those readily available on the grass flats. Some places to check for bigger baitfish include channel markers and tripods in 6 to 10 feet of water and around underwater structures. Bigger baits also cast farther, which can be helpful if the snook are wary or get a lot of fishing pressure.
-- Ed Walker charters out of Palm Harbor. Call (727) 944-3474 or e-mail TarponEd@aol.com.
(All phone numbers begin with 727 unless noted)
SATURDAY: BobaLouie's Inshore Photo-Release Fishing Bonanza, tournament boundaries include Tampa Bay and surrounding waters, BobaLouie's Sports Garden and Grille, Tampa, (813) 971-1243.
TODAY: Fly-tying, Bill Jackson's, 576-4169.
SATURDAY: Fly-casting, Bill Jackson's, 576-4169.
SATURDAY: Fly-casting, World Class Outfitters, (813) 968-3736.
SATURDAY: Fly-casting, Saltwater Fly Fisherman, Clearwater, 443-5000.
TONIGHT: USF Sail Club meeting, Bayboro Campus, 821-4840.
SATURDAY: Safe-boating course, Clearwater, 462-6368.
SATURDAY: Bay race, St. Petersburg Sailing Association, 381-6363.
SATURDAY: J/24 Regatta, Davis Islands Yacht Club, (813) 251-1158.
SATURDAY: Discover sailing. Session consists of four Saturdays, Clearwater Community Center, Clearwater, 462-6368.
SATURDAY-OCT. 22: Clearwater Sailing Center Access Dinghy National Championships, 462-6368.
TODAY: Guided kayak eco-tour, Charlotte Harbor and Myakka River Estuary, Sarasota, (941) 388-4441.
SATURDAY: Guided hike, Brooker Creek Preserve; 943-4003.
SATURDAY: Weedon Island Preserve guided walk, 3 miles, reservations required, 217-7208.
SATURDAY: Clearwater Audubon Society field trip, Withlacoochie Canoe/Kayak Adventure, Withlacoochie State Forest, must bring canoe/kayak, 538-8688.
SATURDAY: Father and son day hike, Hillsborough River State Park, Suncoast Sierra Club, 938-4093.
SUNDAY: Mother and daughter day hike, Hillsborough River State Park, Suncoast Sierra Club, 938-4093.
-- 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.