I used to like fishing because I thought it had some larger significance. Now I like fishing because it's the one thing I can think of that probably doesn't. John Gierach
This week's column marks the one-year anniversary of "Bait House Banter". I need to thank several people who made this all happen. Number one on the list is Sandy Pollick, who not only gave me the job at the Bait House, but also gave me a chance at writing. She said to me upon handing in my first column, "This is OK, now what are you going to write about next week?" Thanks to Mary at the Gazette for her unwavering ability to correct my spelling and grammar, and to Kim who makes my bad photos look good. My sincere thanks go out to Justin and Amy Pfaelzer, the new owners of the Bait House, for keeping this old guy around. Special thanks to my mentor at the Bait House, Big Al, who still makes me feel like the new kid. To all the charter boat captains and first mates that fill me in on what's happening out there. Thanks. Most of all, my biggest thanks go out to you readers who are constantly giving me insight as to what's biting where and on what, sharing their fishing stories, giving me a hard time about the crazy stuff I do when I'm fishing, and who stop by the Bait House to give me encouragement and feedback about the column I had just written. To an unknown guy who moved here from Minnesota and wanted to live on a boat and make a living at anything that had to do with fishing, you have all made me feel not only welcomed, but part of your community. And for all of this, you have my deepest and most heartfelt thanks.
Now onto fishing. The falling water temperature is just one of the reasons that inshore fishing is improving. We've seen a lot of very nice Black Drums caught in the main channels of the Intracoastal Waterway. While most have been in the 4 to 7 pound size, these fish can easily run up to 75 pounds. The Sheephead bite continues to get better every week. Look for them around docks, piers, and bridges. The Sand Key area has been very good for both Redfish and Snook. White bait, such as Greenback Minnows, is very abundant and can be found in large schools along the surf or shoreline.
Offshore is the hotspot for Mangrove Snappers. A local charter boat captain told me that the key to hitting them is to use a chum block with live shrimp or greenbacks for bait. Their rig of choice is a 1/4 oz. egg sinker, 30 lb. fluorocarbon leader, and a #1 or #1/0 hook. Some Spanish Mackerel are being caught using live bait (usually greenbacks) as a chum. Try Clearwater Artificial Reef for some of this action. It's only 3-1/2 miles out from the shoreline and holds some great fish. If you need the GPS numbers for the reef just give us a call.
Remember to stop by the Bait House for all of your bait and tackle needs or to just share a fishing story with us. We have dock access for your boat. I can be emailed at Jim2988@msn.com and as always, Good Luck Out There! Jim can be found daily at the Bait House - Clearwater Municipal Marina.
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