The Tampa Bay Times

By Ed Walker

For years now I have spent time during the late summer months in Key West. I have had the opportunity to fish with many of the top guides and skilled local anglers. These innovative fishermen have developed different techniques than we use here, some of which can be applied to fishing situations in the Tampa Bay area.

By far the biggest difference between the two regions is the use of chum. Nobody goes reef fishing in The Keys without at least a few blocks of frozen chum. Most bring a case every day. You can buy it at any grocery store or gas station. Why? Because it works wonders. I am not sure why it has not caught on in the Suncoast area. Out of Tarpon Springs we now carry 50 pounds of chum every time we go offshore. It not only brings in the snapper and grouper but many other species such as cobia, tuna, and kingfish you may not have seen without a long scent trail behind your boat.

Another is that they use far less braided line in Key West. When dropping in very deep water or some tarpon fishing situations they still use it, but seldom on the reef or the flats. The reason being its visibility. The fish can see it. Not only do you get less bites with braid on the reef, you can shut down a good snapper bite. When a hooked fish drags a length of opaque braid back and forth through the school of fish the others quickly wise up to it.

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