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Sunday, Sep 24, 2017
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Clearing water should make fishing easier

GO FISHING is a look at the area fishing scene through the eyes of local charter boat captains and fishing guides. Today: Frank Sargeant. Captain "Red Ed" Brennan of Homosassa reports lots of scallops there, with the mother lode mostly north of St. Martin's Keys and around Crystal River at depths of 6 to 7 feet over eel grass beds. He said opening day saw cloudy water off Homosassa, but clearing farther north and several of his parties took home 10-gallon limits of the tasty shellfish; www.homosassaredfish.com. Lots of fresh water pouring out of Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor slowed fishing last weekend, but waters are clearing now and fish pushed out by the flush should gradually come back inside — Spanish mackerel, in particular, run away from fresh water. Tarpon, on the other hand, don't mind brackish water at all, and we're into the backwater tarpon season; anywhere in Old Tampa Bay or Hillsborough Bay where there's 8 to 12 feet of water and good bait populations is good prospecting from now through the end of the summer. Tarpon often laze on the surface at this time of year with just the tips of their fins showing. These fish will take live sardines or threads. Fishing cut shad on bottom can also connect — fish around "muds" created by feeding. You'll catch a lot of catfish, but also some big tarpon.
Trout is mostly a deep water proposition from now through September — find grass or coral bottom in 8 feet or more and drift as you cast a jig or swimbait ahead of the boat. The red snapper season has been extended by six days because the tropical storm kept most anglers off the water and will now run through July 16. Snapper have been abundant this year, mostly at depths of 80 feet and more. The waters around the gas pipeline are a good place to start searching bottom. In fresh water, anglers at Okeechobee and Kissimmee are doing well on topwater bass for the first hour of daylight; after that, it's a matter of flipping heavy weeds or probing offshore hydrilla with plastic worms or "ripped" crankbaits. The remaining runoff from the storm will also create some opportunities at creek mouths and connecting canals.

Tribune correspondent Frank Sargeant can be reached at franksargeant@charter.net

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