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Captains corner: Picky tarpon under bridges; kings and snapper are good offshore bets

Inshore: St. Petersburg tackle shop owner and tarpon guru Larry Mastry reports that multiple catches are coming from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Mastry likes to use pass crabs during the new and full moon "hill" tides when the extreme tides drag the crabs out of the bay. Tarpon can be seen gulping these small crabs without hesitation, and when this phenomenon occurs, it's hard to get the tarpon to eat anything else.

Offshore: Believe it or not, kingfish are still in the area. Dave Zalewski is catching kings using No. 2 or 3 planers with large silver spoons in the ships channel and over many of the artificial reefs. Snapper action is good in the 90-foot range. Mangrove, yellowtail, lane and American red are eating frozen sardines and pinfish. If the snapper bites are hard to come by, Zalewski suggests downsizing the tackle to a 2-ounce sinker and a 2/0 or 3/0 circle hook on 20-pound tackle. Gag grouper and scamp are being caught at the same depth with regularity. Start using frozen sardines until the bite slows, then offer live baits to spark the action once again.

Landlubber: Anglers on the toll bridges to Fort De Soto Park at Pinellas County's southern end are jigging every morning and evening for pompano, Spanish mackerel and just about everything else. Most are using heavy ¾-ounce yellow or pink Silly Willy or Doc's Goofy Jigs. Waders around the Pinellas Point area are finding redfish and snook on the oyster beds at high tide. Scaled sardines are the favorite live bait, while a gold spoon is the best artificial choice. The Skyway fishing piers, especially the north pier, are loaded with tarpon and cobia at night. Both can be seen ambushing greenbacks in the shadows. Rig heavy for these bruisers.

TournamentS: Team Kyle Hehenberger won the second Hill Tide Tarpon Tournament put on by the Suncoast Tarpon Roundup. In the race to be the first to weigh a fish, Hehenberger beat Team Super Dave Laggner and Justin Marlow, and Jason Gell and Team G-Force.

The 38th Old Salt Loop Tournament, being held this year in conjunction with the Mike Alstott Family Foundation Inshore/Offshore Shootout, starts with the captains meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Vinoy Marina in St. Petersburg. Loop tournament fishing begins Thursday at midnight and ends the morning of July 11 with a "weigh-in" later in the day. Fishing for the Alstott event is July 11 only. For information, call (727) 439-7945 or visit www.oldsaltfishing.org.

Rick Frazier runs Lucky Dawg Charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 510-4376 or captainrick@luckydawg.com.

Captains corner: Picky tarpon under bridges; kings and snapper are good offshore bets 07/02/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 2, 2009 4:30am]

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