I recently watched some boaters and fishermen on the Alafia River and noticed one fisherman anchored and fishing. It looked like he was catching something, and then some jet skis blasted close by him. One hit something along an island, out of the channel. That jet ski stopped right there. Bet the fisherman stopped catching also.
I sometimes sit under the tiki bar at Shell Point Marina near the mouth of the Little Manatee. Recently I watched two jet skis clip along and crash into that oyster bar on the north side of the marked channel. The poor guy on one jumped off barefoot to push the boat, right onto those oyster shells. The pain got to him, put him on his knees, which meant he probably cut himself some more.
If you go boating, remember that a jet ski is a boat. You should know where the channel markers are and what they mean.
“Red on right on return” is easily remembered. Keep the red marker to your right when returning in the channel. If there’s only one color showing, then shoreline is the other color. Staying between the markers and the shore should keep you in deeper, safer water.
I also watched another guy in what looked like a new boat. He launched, loaded the family and slammed it right into the same oyster bar. Never did he even head toward the channel. My take is he was clueless on what it all means. You would never have someone drive on our highways without knowing what red lights, lane markers and signs mean, would you?
Here is something else. There are new regulations on lionfish. Essentially they mean you should kill them when you get a chance. Some are showing up at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge area, and they are really common offshore. Lionfish are quite destructive to our game fish. If you catch one, keep it or dispose of it. Handled carefully, I am told they are good eating. They’re not for me, though.
A friend caught a “load” of pompano one night along a point outside one of our local rivers. His location is a secret but his methods are not – small jigs dragged along the bottom and tipped with shrimp pieces or squid. The other secret is to drag the jig along the bottom.
Small jacks look a bit like pompano. They’re not the same. Pompano are great white meat on the table. Jacks are like bloody liver. I spoke with a guy who was proudly showing off his catch and told him it was jacks and not pompano. His reply was that they make good soup. There’s no accounting for taste.
Gag grouper are now legal to harvest. Bay and offshore structures hold lots of them – 22 inches is the minimum. Anything above that is fair game and great eating.
Catch ‘em up!
Larry Malinoski, aka the FishHawk, is one of three Ruskin-based fishing guides and charter captains who share this column. He can be reached at (813) 469-7251 or firstname.lastname@example.org.