© St. Petersburg Times, published December 3, 2001
Red Tide has moved inside the mouth of Tampa Bay. Parts of Fort De Soto, Gulfport Bay and Boca Ciega were hit hard. Mullet, catfish and small baits are dead and floating in most affected areas. When Red Tide moves into a new area the first sign is birds eating baitfish as they start dying. A few hours later, the same area will have large dead fish on the surface.
Most fish that are large enough to travel will leave. The trick is to find where the big fish went. If Red Tide is moving north, head north and work the areas that are in front of the tide. When Red Tide is at the mouth of the bay, fish farther inside. The cleanest water and better fishing is north of Clearwater.
Kingfish action was hot in 40 feet off John's Pass. On our last trip, baitfish were dying next to the boat as we fished. All big baits left and took the kings with them. My guess is Red Tide is keeping the kings north of the Clearwater area. They should stay until the next cold front.
Turn off the live well when running through infected waters. Have 5-gallon buckets of water to pour in the well while the pump is off.
-- Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.