© St. Petersburg Times, published October 26, 2001
When the weather finally allowed us to venture offshore this week, we were pleasantly surprised. Spanish mackerel provided us with almost nonstop action at the Treasure Island and Madeira Beach artificial reefs. The best catches occurred just after the sun broke over the buildings on the beaches and continued for about an hour. Some of the fish approached 6 pounds.
Kingfish are here, but they seem to be confined to a rather narrow band of water in the 40- to 45-foot range. Small schools can be found over the patchy, hard-bottom areas in this depth range.
Water clarity is disappointing in the 90-foot depths, and it appears to be causing the bottom fish to depend more on smell than sight. Using a combination of squid and a piece of sardine seems to help. Bottom fishing has been better in 50 feet of water than at 90 feet, the latter of which usually is the more productive during this transitional period from summer to winter.
All of the gulf piers and the Sunshine Skyway piers are reporting excellent catches of mackerel, especially at sunrise and just before sunset, by those casting spoons. Every baithouse is willing to assist the first-time pier angler in setting up the terminal tackle to effectively target these fish. Redington Long Pier has some large speckled trout hanging around in the lights at night.
Trout, snook and redfish are making their way into the bay, and anglers fishing the flats are reporting catching and seeing more fish as the waters began to clear. Flounder are making their presence known along the drop-offs near the edges of almost any grass flat. A white bait hooked through both lips by a small jig head and slowly dragged along the drop-off has been effective.
-- Capt. Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach and can be reached at (727) 397-8815 or by e-mail at Luckytoo2@aol.com.
(All phone numbers begin with 727 unless noted)
SATURDAY: Greater New Port Richey Main Street's second annual Founder's Day Fishing Rodeo, weigh-in will be at City Docks, applications can be obtained at City Hall, 842-8066.
SATURDAY: Redfish tour, lure division, Tampa Bayside Marina, Tampa, (813) 902-8849.
SUNDAY: Fall Kingfish Classic, Billy's Stonecrab, Tierra Verde, 542-3900.
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.
TODAY-SUNDAY: Stiletto Nationals, Sarasota Sailing Squadron, (941) 388-2355.
TODAY-SUNDAY: Clearwater Challenge, Clearwater Yacht Club, WFPHRF Boat of the Year event, 447-6000.
SATURDAY: Safe-boating course, Clearwater, 462-6368.
SATURDAY: Discover sailing. Session consists of four Saturdays, Clearwater Community Center, Clearwater, 462-6368.
SATURDAY: Free kayak demo, Sweetwater Kayaks, Tierra Verde, 906-0708.
SATURDAY: Boater safety program, St. Petersburg College, 341-4441.
HUNTING REGULATIONS: Dog training season opens Saturday in the Northwest Zone.; muzzleloading gun season opens Saturday in the Central Zone.; general gun season opens Saturday in the South Zone..
SATURDAY: Guided hike, Brooker Creek Preserve; 943-4003.
SATURDAY: Weedon Island Preserve Guided Walk, 3 miles, reservations required, 217-7208.
SATURDAY: Weedon Island Power Paddle, Gandy Beach, St. Petersburg, Florida Competition Paddlers Association, Tampa Bay Watch, 896-5320.
SATURDAY: Family camping trip, Hillsborough River State Park, FireCircle Adventures, 894-5018.
SATURDAY-SUNDAY: Overnight backpack trip, Myakka River State Park, Suncoast Sierra Club, 539-0882.
-- 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.