By RICK FRAZIER
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 1, 2000
Unlike last weekend's nasty weather, this weekend's forecast might allow us to get out.
Starting offshore, the kingfish action has slowed, but there are a few stragglers hanging around the ship's channel. The usual slow-troll method with sardines, blue runners and mackerel should get a bite. If you're having a difficult time locating a school of fish, break out the hardware and drag it around the artificial reefs and channel markers. Glow-spoons and gold broken-back plugs are tough to beat.
Grouper action remains steady. Get out far enough to find clean water. Start around 30 feet and check it out. If it's still muddy, venture out a little farther. For starters, stinky baits such as frozen sardines and squid are the best choice. Chum blocks lowered down to a ledge will get things going. Once the bite drops off, break out the hand-sized pinfish for the bruisers.
Closer to home, sheepshead are on the warpath. The Skyway, Gandy and feeder bridges are holding fish. If you're in a boat, use the sling technique with your vessel. Wrap a line around the pilings so you can pull yourself up close. This will allow you to fish the down-current eddy where the sheepies congregate. Tube worms, bloodworms, fiddler crabs, oysters, barnacles and cut shrimp are good choices. Just remember to chum the area you plan to target. Use the oyster shells, heads and tails from the shrimp, and toss in some barnacles.
If you have a cast net and want to try your hand at netting a few mullet for the smoker, now is the time. Big, fat roe mullet are heading out of the back bays and bayous for the gulf in anticipation of the spawn. They're on the flats around mangrove islands. Sneak up on these guys if you want half a chance. Trolling motors and push poles work best.
Redfish are heading into the deep holes at low tide and are suckers for a piece of stinky dead shrimp on the bottom. Jigs also work well, but they are inferior to shrimp. Snook and flounder also are in these holes. Speaking of flounder, check out the edges of the flats. Live shrimp with a small weight fished on the bottom will draw strikes.
Snook remain on the hit list until Dec. 15, so you'd better get a move on if you plan to take one home before the season closes. Dead end, deep residential canals and backwater bayous that are now being evacuated by mullet are the best places. Free-line small, silver mullet hooked through the upper lip.
- Rick Frazier runs Lucky Dawg Charters in St. Petersburg. Call (727) 448-3817 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org