© St. Petersburg Times, published November 2, 2001
Blasts of cool air from recent cold fronts have triggered great action within a few miles of shore. Water temperatures dropped, breaking up much of the Red Tide and opening the gates that allow migratory fish to travel eastward.
Gag grouper action in depths as shallow as 20 feet has been nonexistent for months. Now that mercury levels have dropped, numerous ledges and rock piles are holding fish. Expect populations to grow as water temperatures creep lower; grouper love winterlike conditions. A mixture of dead and live bait combined with short sessions of chumming will entice even the pickiest gag from its rocky home.
Cobia are being caught in all depths as they migrate southward for the winter. Scattered reports are coming in from offshore and inshore wrecks. Even the local fishing piers are producing impressive catches.
Giant schools of Spanish mackerel have been ravaging pods of juvenile bait fish just a few miles out. The mackerel are 2 to 7 pounds. Anything shiny will attract strikes if presented in front of a mackerel feeding frenzy. Bird activity will let you know where to find the action. Hundreds of terns will be stealing bait fish from the macks as they feed. Between the frothing water, fish leaping and the birds, it's hard to miss.
If Spanish mackerel are present, giant kings are close behind. King mackerel love to dine on their smaller cousins. Reports of big smokers have been trickling in from Anclote to Egmont Key. A strong easterly wind is key.
One favorite method for catching big kings is to fly a kite. Kite fishing dates back decades and originally was used for sailfish on the east coast of Florida. Through the years, this unusual method also has proven to be successful for landing smokers. The idea is to suspend your live bait offering from a clip on a kite as it flies. Adjusting your bait on the clip so that it thrashes about the surface drives kings crazy. The strong and lively blue runner is the best bait.
This weekend's kingfish tournaments will draw anglers from all over the Southeast. Expect every kingfish hot spot to have its share of boats working for the win.
-- Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 595-3276, or e-mail email@example.com.
(All phone numbers begin with 727 unless noted)
THROUGH SUNDAY: 11th annual Dorado Marine Suncoast Kingfish Classic, Kingfish Wharf, Treasure Island, Treasure Island Charities, 363-0071.SUNDAY: Tampa Pro Bass Fall Tournament Series, out of Bob's Landing, 789-0525.
SATURDAY: Fly-casting, World Class Outfitters, (813) 968-3736
SATURDAY: Fly-casting, Saltwater Fly Fisherman, Clearwater, 443-5000.
TODAY: Hobie 20 Continental Championships, Davis Island Yacht Club, Tampa, (813) 251-1158.
THROUGH SUNDAY: Sail Expo St. Petersburg, Vinoy Park and Marina, St. Petersburg, (800) 817-SAIL.
TONIGHT: USF Sail Club meeting, Bayboro Campus, 821-4840. SATURDAY: Safe-boating course, Clearwater, 462-6368.
SATURDAY: Discover Sailing, session consists of four Saturdays, Clearwater Community Center, Clearwater, 462-6368.
SATURDAY: Treasure Island Canoe and Kayak Race, St. Petersburg, Florida Competition Paddlers Association, 360-8040.
SUNDAY: Offshore series, Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club, Treasure Island, 595-8206.
SUNDAY: Bay race, St. Petersburg Sailing Association, 381-6363.
HUNTING REGULATIONS: Antlerless deer season opens Saturday and closes Sunday 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: Pioneer day, Chinsegut Nature Center, Brooksville, (352) 754-6722.
SUNDAY: Bicycle ride, Pinellas Trail, south end from Seminole City Park over Cross Bayou and points south, Suncoast Sierra Club, 392-2821.
-- 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.