The Tampa Bay Times
By Ed Walker
Although Spanish mackerel have moved back into the bay area, kingfish have been notoriously absent. Typically, these two migratory species appear at around the same time but it is not entirely unusual for the Spanish to show up first. Charter and commercial boats fishing out of Key West are still reporting big numbers of kingfish down there so the fish seem to be in no big hurry to head north. As water temperatures continue to rise however, expect the kings to show up any day. Once the conditions get right, large numbers of fish can move great distances in a matter of days.
Since it is a northerly migration in the spring, expect to see the fish show up in the southern end of the bay area first. Sarasota, Bradenton, and Anna Maria should have great kingfish action soon. After that they should begin to settle in along the coast from Tampa Bay to Tarpon Springs.
One interesting fact about spring kingfish is that while there is often great fishing around bait pods and areas of hardbottom, some of the very biggest schools will often settle into an area of minimal bottom and little or no bait. When the water is clear you can actually look down and see hundreds of kingfish slowly moving by. These are apparently just migrating masses but if you locate them you can catch kings until your arms hurt. The fish in such schools are usually smaller, with the average being 8-12 lbs, but what they lack in size they make up for in sheer volume.