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To catch fish, plan accordingly

By DAVE ZALEWSKI, Times Correspondent
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 14, 2001

Perfect weather conditions and water temperatures still in the 70s have confused things: Which species do you target inshore? What game plan do you use offshore?

Trout, snook and redfish have not migrated much farther inland than the mouths of the passes, and they can be seen and caught on the grass flats and residential canals just to the inside of the passes. White bait can be caught in cast nets near every bridge early in the morning until about an hour after sunrise. A few handfuls of baits thrown into the water near any grass flat across from the point of a residential canal will spark a flurry of activity.

Sheepshead still should be offshore, but they have begun their inshore migration early. Nearly every bridge and dock piling at the entrance to a pass should have large numbers of these tasty bait stealers. Shrimp are an easy bait to obtain and will produce, but the best bait is a fiddler or small rock crab fished with as little weight as possible on a small circle hook.

Lower water temperatures and shorter days have caused a reduction in the algae that produced cloudy water conditions in the gulf. Visibility has increased dramatically. Divers are reporting 30- to 40-foot visibility in the 60-foot depths.

Kingfish and Spanish mackerel are being caught in respectable numbers by anglers heading to the north of Clearwater and John's passes. The kingfish activity to the south of John's Pass has been disappointing because of Red Tide. It is difficult to predict when the fish that have stalled north of Clearwater will continue their southward push, but now is the time to target these fish.

-- Capt. Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach and can be reached at (727) 397-8815 or by e-mail at


(All phone numbers begin with 727 unless noted)

FISHING REGULATIONS: Snook season closes Saturday. TUESDAY: Spring Hill Fishing Club meeting, Senior Citizens Hall, Susan Drive, Weeki Wachee, (352) 592-8688. WEDNESDAY: Tampa Bay Fly Fishing Club meeting, Tampa Palms, 866-8682. THURSDAY: Saltwater Fly Fisherman monthly meeting, Clearwater, 443-5000.


SATURDAY: Fly-casting, World Class Outfitters, (813) 968-3736

SATURDAY: Fly-casting, Saltwater Fly Fisherman, Clearwater, 443-5000.

TUESDAY: Winter inshore techniques with Brent Gaskill, Gulf to Bay Tackle, St. Pete Beach, 367-4756. TUESDAY: Catching snook, trout and reds with Bill White, Boater's World, De Soto Mall, Bradenton, (941) 747-8339. WEDNESDAY: Fly-casting, women only, Saltwater Fly Fisherman, Clearwater, 443-5000. FRIDAY: Fly-tying, Bill Jackson's, 576-4169.


TUESDAY: Safe-boating course, St. Petersburg, 898-8774. WEDNESDAY: Boating skills and seamanship course, Tampa, (813) 835-4118. THURSDAY: Safe-boating course, Madeira Beach, 587-7873. THURSDAY: Safe-boating course, St. Pete Beach, 867-3088


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