© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2001
Water temperatures on flats in the North Suncoast area have taken a dive. This week the gauge read 65 degrees near Honeymoon Island. Though this is not necessarily too cold for good fishing, most fish need time to get over the shock of a 10-degree drop. Trout, redfish and especially snook will be slow to feed for a few days until they feel more comfortable.
One fish that doesn't seem to mind the colder water is the bluefish. Each winter they appear in the intracoastal from Dunedin Causeway to the Anclote River. They roam in packs, aggressively feeding on nearly everything that gets in their way. Several times we have had speckled trout bitten in half by bluefish as we were reeling them in.
My favorite approach to catching blues is on topwater plugs. Remove the front treble hook and replace the back treble with a large single hook. This makes removing them from your line much easier and safer. Cast the lure and crank it back as fast as you can, skipping it across the surface. Fast, splashy lures drive bluefish crazy. Often, a dozen or more will attack your plug.
They have been a bit larger this year. Five pounds seems to be the average size in the schools. They are the perfect fish for the light tackle enthusiast: strong, aggressive and cooperative even when the water is cold.
- Ed Walker charters out of Palm Harbor. Call (727) 944-3474 or e-mail TarponEd@aol.com.