After storm, clear fishing

Published Oct. 11, 1996|Updated Sept. 16, 2005

Presidential and vice presidential debates, a raging tropical storm, and now a soothing fishing weekend. What a tumultuous week, but what a pleasant way to wind things down.

While you were battening down your hatches, many dramatic changes were taking place. Veteran fishing master Gene Turner says Josephine's tidal flows had a tremendous flushing effect on our offshore waters. "They're as clean as I've seen 'em in years, and that ought to really light up the kingfish," he said.

Big smoker kings have made an unusually early arrival, and Turner has a theory about why.

"I've got some relatives up around Steinhatchee, and they tell me the Red Tide up there had been brutal. So the kings probably bypassed that area and headed straight for us."

Turner suggests dragging spoons or slow-trolling live baits off the beaches or along the length of the shipping channel into Tampa Bay. "You're going to be able to hook lots of Spanish and king mackerel, bonito, and even some keeper grouper," he said.

With the arrival of cooler weather after the tropical storm, back-bay water temperatures have dropped into the magical 70s. The storm drenched back bays with fresh water, stirred up the bottom and scattered fish, but everything should be settling down this weekend.

Massive schools of hulking, oceangoing redfish are showing up at creek mouths and around oyster beds. Small gold spoons, topwalker plugs and lighter weight jigs all will get their attention. The last of the outgoing, first of the incoming and top of the high tide should be peak redfish and snook periods.

You might want to spend this balmy fall weekend drifting the flats for trout. They are showing in good numbers and should be unable to resist the now-popular jerkbaits, jigs or spoons. In addition, there are playful ladyfish and jacks everywhere, which should give you some invigorating fish-pulls.

ESPN's renowned bass professor, Doug Hannon, thinks Josephine's wet and wild weather has created tough freshwater conditions that will last for several days. "Most lakes now have increased water levels, and that tends to scatter the fish," Hannon said, "so you have to look for bass in other places. Start by working the deeper waters near points, around submerged humps, brush piles or other structures."

For this weekend, Hannon recommends noisy spinnerbaits, crankbaits and rubber worms, "but I'd switch from silver to gold patterns because of all that murky water."

_ Mel Berman hosts The Captain Mel Show Saturday from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on WFLA-AM 970. If you have a big day, call the Fish Fone at (813) 893-8124 or send e-mail to