The Tampa Bay Times

Dave Zalewski 460-9893

We always like to say that October 14 (Columbus Day) kicks off the start of our fall kingfish run. There are a few large ones around right now especially on the mid water artificial reefs, offshore wrecks and some portions of the natural gas pipeline. The major push has not started yet probably because of warmer than usual water temperatures in the gulf. Shorter days and a cold front or two will kick off what should be a banner season. We are encountering large schools of baitfish very close to shore and on hard bottom areas within a few miles. The strong easterly winds have forced the baitfish to seek shelter provided by the land mass. Spanish mackerel, bonita, bluefish, blue runners and ladyfish can all be found feeding voraciously on the glass minnows, threadfins and Spanish sardines found mixed together in these bait pods. Feeding on these predators are the apex predator, sharks. Now is the time to try catch and release shark fishing in the close in waters near any of the passes entering into the gulf. All it takes is a little bit of patience in setting up a chum line and waiting for the shark to come to you. Using two frozen blocks of chum, one in a cage and lowered to the bottom, and one tied off from the boat on the surface, along with generous chunks of sardines and threadfins along with pieces of any small fish caught on sabikis that will be brought into the chum slick. Ready made shark rigs can be purchased from any of our local tackle shops along with the chum, Many of these sharks are in the 20 to 50 pound range and a 4/0 size reel with a full spool of 50 pound test will provide a memorable battle. We deploy three lines while shark fishing, two suspended from balloons, one of which is about 3 feet down, one half way to the bottom and one directly on the bottom baited with a bait that is 10 to 12 inches long.