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A Little Work Gives a Big Payoff

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On: Fri, Apr 18, 2014 at 11:04AM | By: Captain Sergio Atanes

Eddie Mecuransky

Being a guide is a rewarding experience, watching the smile on a young child catching his first fish or the look on their parent’s face struggling to land the one big fish of the day. It’s all in a day’s work for us guides.

Being the captain of the vessel we have responsibilities; the young kids and their parents expect us to lead them to treasure (the fish), but we must first know where to go and what to do. Here is where a little work gives a big payoff.

You can’t fish the same grounds day after day, because, sooner or later, you are going to deplete the stock from that area, so invest a little time learning your area—I call it spending some T & M (Time on the water and Money for gas)—and exploring new areas. Here are some ideas to make you a better angler.

Find old charts of Tampa Bay at yard sales and you will quickly see they have a wealth of information. Did you know that Tampa Bay had over 23 wrecks between the Skyway Bridge and downtown Tampa? The old charts can lead you somewhat close to them, and if you are lucky enough to find one you hit the jackpot. I found six of them over the years; some were lost as silt settled over them and they slowly sank into the ground.

Ledges in Tampa Bay you ask; yes, I say, and some really nice ones at that. During spring and start of summer they produce some real nice Grouper, Grunts, and Sea Bass. When winter sets in, the same ledges hold large Sheepshead and resident Gag Grouper and even some Red Grouper.

There are several fish havens around the St. Pete pier that are no longer on modern charts but the old charts still show them and with a little T & M you might just find them. They are some of my favorite spots for catching Sharks during the summer months and even some nice Grouper.

When looking for good hunting grounds in Tampa Bay, I would suggest the use of deep running plugs. There are several good brands on the market that can dive from 15 to 25 ft. according to your speed. Pick a spot from your chart and troll an area of hard bottom, and using your tracking on your GPS, run a north to south pattern. When you get a strike, mark the spot with a buoy or an anti-freeze bottle filled with expanding foam, and with a heavy enough weight to hold it in place. Then go back and drift the area with live pinfish, sardines or cut bait. When you get the first strike, it’s time to anchor and start catching. Oh, did I forget to mention you just found a new spot to fish.

Ballast Point rings a bell. Many years ago most sea-going ships could not enter what is now known as Hillsborough Bay without dropping their ballast overboard. I will admit the fishing is not as good as when I fished years ago, but certain times of the year large Trout and Sheepshead call Ballast Point rocks their home.
Tight lines!

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