Time flies when you are having fun is an old saying. I must be having too much fun because it is hard to believe that the start of kingfish season (Columbus Day, October 10) is only six weeks away. Each spring and fall we spend some time preparing for the season. Reels are respooled to their capacity in anticipation of that first long run of a smoker king. Drags which should have been backed off are checked by tying the line to a stationary object and walking away to check for smoothness. If a sticking, jerky drag is found now is the time to have that reel serviced, not when tackle stores are overwhelmed by fisherman who waited until the last minute. Guides can be checked by running a piece of nylon stocking thru each guide. If the nylon hangs up that is a sure sign that there is a crack or burr in the guide that will wear on the line and quickly weaken it. Bilge and bait well pumps should be checked for operation and each wire connection should be carefully looked at for signs of corrosion, usually indicated by some greenish material. It only takes a short time to replace a butt connector with a shrink fit new one, Flare kits are dated and should be looked at to see if they are current. EPIRBS are also dated and should be checked for expiration dates. Charter and commercial boats are required to have a Type I life jacket for each person onboard, while recreational boats are only required to have a Type II. A Type I has much more flotation material and is designed to keep an unconscious person’s head out of the water and are highly recommended for everyone
Before the high winds and rough seas kept us in port last week both bottom fishing and trolling had been getting better each day. Our primary targets have been Lane snapper, red grouper and white grunts in the 80 to 90 foot depths, fishing with frozen sardines, squid and live sardines caught with sabiki rigs on the way out when a school of them is spotted. On several days mahi mahi have shown up while bottom fishing. Whenever they are spotted, we immediately take a frozen sardine and start chumming with small slivers cut with a pair of scissors so as not to feed them and fill them up. Next out comes a light spinning rod always kept at the ready with a large sabiki cut down to 3 hooks and baited with the same sized slivers as the chum. An addition to our mahi arsenal is another light rod with a locally manufactured yellow pompano jig which the mahi find irresistible.