If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles. -Doug Larson --English middle-distance runner who won gold medals at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, 1902-1981.
Well, we made it through another year. We survived the gas hikes and all the increases that go with it, the elections, the economy tanking out, and even an active hurricane season. Is there anything we canít handle? We say good-bye to 2008 and hello to the future year. We at the Bait House hope it will be a great one for you.
Fishing in our area has stepped up a notch due to warm weather we have seen in the last couple weeks. Spanish mackerel have shown up in the main channels of the Intracoastal Waterway. The great fighters are being caught using light tackle with a bobber set about 2 to 3 feet below the surface. While greenback minnows seem to be the bait of choice for the fish, many are also being caught using live shrimp. We saw many anglers walking to their cars with five gallon buckets stuffed with mackerel. Bluefish are also making a big showing lately. This last weekend produced many in the five to ten pound range. Known for its powerful fight, these great scrappers were found at the bottom of channels and caught using live shrimp. Redfish are still active all over the area. Live shrimp and cut ladyfish seem to be the bait of choice for them. A recent trip out to Clearwater artificial reef produced keeper size gag and red grouper as well as some very nice size mangrove snappers. We used live pinfish for the groupers and fished right on the bottom with five foot leaders off of the egg sinker. While we did hit groupers using live shrimp it was hard to get them to the bottom without hooking the mangrove snappers. Fishing around docks, boats, bridges, and piers have been producing some very nice sheephead. Most are being caught using live fiddler crabs or frozen sand fleas.† Over the last two weeks there has been a lot of flounder being caught off of the small piers at the Bait House. They are hitting live and frozen shrimp as well as frozen squid.
On the crab front, stone crabs are still abundant in the area. Trappers are still bringing in great catches of these delicious morsels. Iíve found that fish heads (groupers if you can get them) seem to be working best for me. Others are using pigís feet, chicken and turkey necks, and even freezer burned meat. It seems that the worse your bait smells, the better the crabs like it. Remember to keep an eye out for crab trap markers while you are boating in the area. If may save you from damage to your motor from getting a marker rope wrapped around the prop. ††
The Bait House has several new rod and reel combos in stock as well as many newly designed lures and rigs. Check out the new Mighty Mite rods for the kids. Not only are they easy to use but they can withstand the stress that catching a large fish can give them. We also carry local charts complete with GPS settings so you can find your way to the hot spots. Remember, we have dock access for your boat and I can be emailed at Jim2988@msn.com.
Have a Happy New Year and as always, Good Luck Out There!
Jim can be found daily at the Bait House - Clearwater Municipal Marina, phone 446-8134
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