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Sunday, Nov 23, 2014

Variety abounds for South Shore anglers


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One afternoon I was sitting at Shell Point Marina watching some fishermen clean their catch. A fellow there asked, "What kind of fish are they?"

The question reminded me of how fortunate we are to fish the South Shore of Tampa Bay. Just what types of salt water fish can you catch in our waters?

If you fish for good eats, here's a partial list.

In the trout family you can catch speckled, sand and silver trout. Sheepshead are a common catch that eats well along with grunt, mangrove snapper and flounder. A bit larger are the two varieties of grouper, gag and red, also found in our local waters. Folks travel here to fish for them and many long for a local grouper sandwich.

We also have king and Spanish mackerel, an occasional hog snapper near the Sunshine Skyway, pompano, black sea bass, cobia, redfish and tripletail. Snook used to be called soapfish, but with the skin removed they also eat well. Only thing is snook are more of a sport fish. Few sportsmen actually keep one in the slot to eat.

As for sport fish we have bluefish, black drum, goliath grouper, jack cravelle, tarpon and bonito. Bet you can think of other fish, I missed like ladyfish, which are oh so much fun to catch.

I made up a catchable class. You might call some a good reason to cut the line. We catch mullet, shad, rays of all kinds and shark. Just think of the blacktip, hammerhead, bull and bonnethead sharks that are so common in our waters. Don't forget our puffers, robins, angels and various ugly things called "yuck." Many catch catfish, both salt-water and sailcats. They are a joy for children learning to fish. Just use caution handling them.

In our waters we also have a variety of aquarium species and some fresh-water species that stray into our brackish waters. Talapia would be just one example of that.

NOAA and the National Weather Service came out with a notice on lightning deaths and fishermen. Fishermen are now No. 1 on the lightening death list for leisure activities. The golfers have gotten the message, but it's easier for them to get off the course. Fishermen take expensive trips out on the water, hold "lightning" rods in their hands and often have a macho attitude. We might be our own worst enemy!

It's said, "When thunder roars, go indoors." That's not easy for fishermen to do. Just don't make fishing the last thing you do.

Our South Shore waters offer quite a variety for anglers. So get out there and.

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 fishhwk@tampabay.rr.com.

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