© St. Petersburg Times, published December 21, 2001
Weather cools, but kings don't
It seemed as if it might never happen, but we're finally experiencing cooler weather conditions. Strong winds and rough seas will hinder fishing for a while, but as soon as things subside, great fishing will resume.
Huge kings have been the hot topic of conversation since October. Along the beaches, some monstrous fish have been taken, though banner catches are reported from all depths. Redington Pier anglers consistently are pulling their share of 30-plus-pounders over the railings.
Our biggest landing of the season happened a few days ago. A 46-pound smoker took our shad 2 miles west of Clearwater. Thirty- to 40-pounders also were common that day.
Anglers Ron and Morgan Keene received an even bigger prize this week. Fishing the same waters, the father-son duo landed a 54.2-pounder. The beast devoured a small blue runner, then ran almost a mile before being brought to the boat. The veteran anglers attributed their success to never using more than No. 3 wire and 20-pound line. Time and time again, this technique (light line and smaller leaders, combined with a little patience) has produced trophy-sized fish.
In the middle grounds, about 75 miles to the northwest, big kings have been ravenous. Last week, anglers aboard the Daisy Mae produced a 52-pounder. The fish struck a live bait as it was sent to the bottom. Commercial fishermen working the same areas have been pestered by huge smokers nailing baits intended for grouper. The oversized macks have no monetary value because of the commercial closure that took affect in November.
Expect even more reports of smokers after the passage of the recent fronts. Water temperatures can go as low as 65 degrees before action will slow.
Inshore bottom fishing should start to pick up. Decent numbers of gag grouper can be anticipated on your favorite rock piles. So far this fall, it has been hard to muster up dinner if it consists of grouper. Now that the water has been churned a bit, new populations of fish will move closer to shore.
-- Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 595-3276, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
(All phone numbers begin with 727 unless noted)
TODAY: Fly-tying, Bill Jackson's, 576-4169. SATURDAY: Fly-casting, Bill Jackson's, 576-4169.
SATURDAY: Fly-casting, World Class Outfitters, (813) 968-3736.
SATURDAY: Fly-casting, Saltwater Fly Fisherman, Clearwater, 443-5000.
TUESDAY: Fly-tying clinic, Saltwater Fly Fisherman, Clearwater, 443-5000. WEDNESDAY: Fly-casting, women only, Saltwater Fly Fisherman, Clearwater, 443-5000. THURSDAY: Shallow water sight fishing with Paul Hawkins, West Marine, St. Petersburg, 327-0072.
SATURDAY: Free kayak demo, Sweetwater Kayaks, Tierra Verde, 906-8387
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. THURSDAY: Full Moon Regatta, Davis Island Yacht Club, (813) 251-1158. UPCOMING: Snipe Dead of Winter Regatta, Dec. 28-30, St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 822-3873.