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Strong winds could slow area fishing

Fishing activity this weekend may be slowed down by strong southerly winds that brushed the Suncoast on Thursday. The 25-mph winds at Big Pier 60, though, didn't hold down some of the fish. While many anglers were pulling up Spanish mackerel, Jim McAtasney reeled in a 10-pound bonito on a Clark Squid spoon.

"I believe the fish stayed around because of all the bait fish around the pier," said bait store operator Roy Morgan.

Mackerel also appeared at Gandy Bridge. Fishermen, looking for trout and sheepshead, had a couple of mackerel grabbing their baits on Wednesday.

The odds-on favorite spots, just in case the winds stay around through today, are hidden and protected coves to fish for redfish, trout and sheepshead.

These are reports as of Thursday for various checkpoints along the Suncoast:

1. Lake Rousseau: No report available.

2. Crystal River: Check for trout on the grasslines out of the wind.

3. Hernando Lake: No report available.

4. Inverness: Bluegill and catfish are striking natural baits.

5. Floral City: Small-sized bass (up to 2 pounds each) are being caught.

6. Lake Panasoffkee: Bass up to 8{ pounds are active on the lake. Use live shiners, topwater plugs and plastic worms.

7. Anclote Power Plant: Fish on the east side of Anclote Key. Look for redfish, silvers and Spanish mackerel.

8. Clearwater-Dunedin: Mackerel are expected early in the mornings. Try for whiting during the day and trout at night.

9. Redington Long Pier: Try for mackerel during morning tide changes and trout at night.

10. Lake Seminole: Use live shiners and search the cattails for bass.

11. Courtney Campbell Parkway: Fish the grassflats for silvers and trout.

12. Gandy Bridge: Spanish mackerel may be mixing it up with sheepshead at the bridge this weekend. Fish Weedon Island for reds and trout.

13. Snell Isle-Shore Acres: Look toward Coffee Pot Bayou for silvers and trout.

14. Pinellas Point to The Pier: Search behind the islands and on the coves for trout and reds. Solid sheepshead activity at the downtown pier.

15. John's Pass: Fish the Bay Pines Marina area for trout and reds.

16. Fort De Soto Park-Tierra Verde: The Fort piers are good for mackerel. The backwaters and the grasslines are good for trout, reds and flounder.

17. Lower Tampa Bay: Mackerel are cruising along the main ship channel, but the weather may keep the boating anglers away.

18. Anna Maria Island: Fish for mackerel and sheepshead at the north Island piers.

19. Sarasota: Fish for bluefish on the passes, trout and silvers on the grasslines, and redfish around the bridges.

Offshore

Lots of species are active in 45 to 80 feet of water, including grouper, blackfin tuna, bonito, kingfish and mackerel. Watch for small craft warnings this weekend.

Hot spots

Lake Panasoffkee for freshwater anglers; Fort De Soto, Coquina Key and Weedon Island for redfish; Anclote area for silvers; the downtown pier for sheepshead.

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