By BRENT GASKILL
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 20, 2000
Take a camera when you next go fishing. You may have the best opportunity for a catch-and-release photograph of your biggest redfish ever.
The extra-large breeders should show up off local beaches any time. Kingfish anglers usually luck into these spawners as they turn the water bronze.
Historical spots include hard bottom patches in 20 to 30 feet of water from Clearwater to Indian Rocks, the Blind Pass drop, the artificial reefs off Treasure Island and St. Pete Beach and the edges of the shipping channel off Egmont Key.
Kingfish have arrived. Although not in massive numbers, several have been taken in the usual early season spots such as the Rube Allen, Clearwater hard bottom, Betty Rose and the whistler buoy. Hardware trollers will do well covering a lot of water quickly. Set up a spread covering the water column and troll from one spot to the next. Live-baiters can target kings in a specific area by slow trolling or drifting. Anchoring and chumming the fish to the boat can be effective once they are found. Pay close attention to the solunar feeding periods, because a spot that seems dead can suddenly turn on. The presence of bait schools is necessary -- if you are not marking bait on your bottom recorder, keep moving until bait is located.
Spanish mackerel have been on the move. Trolling small silver spoons behind No. 1 planers or swiveled trolling leads has outperformed live bait. Follow the birds to keep up with the schools. The shallow-water grouper bite has turned on with keeper-size gags coming in water 30 feet deep or less. A good chumming session can get these brutes riled up. A frisky pinfish dropped to the bottom will come back with a grouper attached.
Inshore, the large schools of redfish may have moved offshore on the last full moon. A few scattered reds are still around, just a little harder to find. Don't be surprised if a small pinfish suspended under a cork for reds is slammed by a gator trout. Some flats seem to be infested by tiny trout; others have a push of larger fish moving into the shallows.
Artificials allow you to scout productive areas. Look for birds, the presence of bait, stingrays and other critters signaling a lively flat. Drifting these spots will cover more territory and let you zero in on the keepers. Move with the tide, working the middle of a flat on high tide and the edges on low tide.
Anything can happen on the water right now. Tarpon, cobia, flounder, bluefish and more can show up at any time.
- Brent Gaskill charters the Summer Vacation. Call (727) 867-1751.