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By DAVE WALKER
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 6, 2000
It looks like winter is here already. Almost all the fish have left the flats behind in search of warmer water -- and water, period.
We are in the winter cycle for tides. Very low tides mixed with a north wind can expose parts of the bay that usually are covered. Be careful in these conditions. You can run aground easily.
I like to fish residential canals when it is cold and windy. It is a way to be sheltered from the wind.
Shrimp tossed under the docks will work wonders on sheepshead, reds, black drum and snook. Let your bait sit under the structure as long as possible, because fish will not move much to feed. Once your bait is out from under the dock, recast.
A small split shot is all you need for casting and weight.
You want to use heavier stuff for dock fishing. I like to use 12- to 14-pound class spinning equipment. A leader of 20- to 30-pound test is required. If you do not use a leader, it is a waste of time to fish these areas.
Barnacles and oysters are two problems associated with fishing residential canals. Big dogs, hook-hungry dock lines and the occasional irate homeowner are other hazards.
Boat position is crucial. You must be close enough to cast under the dock but not too tight, or the fish will spook.
- Dave Walker charters out of Tampa. Call (813) 831-0355.