The Tampa Bay Times

By Ed Walker

While checking out grouper spots offshore last week we stumbled upon an area with lots of birds, crashing fish, and millions of minnows. While not unusual to see in closer to shore, it was the first I have ever seen it in that spot. Most of the breaking fish were Spanish mackerel and ladyfish. Our party for the day loved the opportunity to cast and catch a fish every cast so they were busy firing jigs at the mackerel.  After a while it occurred to me that with so many mackerel and ladyfish there might be a big kingfish lurking. We rigged a wire rig with a double stinger on a kingfish rod and put a live mackerel on it.

Within 5 minutes we saw a big flash behind the boat and the reel started screaming. Big king! After a brief chase a solid 30 pounder hit the deck.

Shortly thereafter we moved the grouper rods out of the way and went into full kingfish mode. A couple guys would cast for mackerel, when they got one we would quickly put it on the hook and drop it out the stern. We slow trolled one about 50 feet behind the boat and another at 100 feet back. We ended up catching 3 kings in the 25 to 30 pound range and lost one much bigger. The guys were thrilled to have run into this unexpected bonus. Such is the way things go in the fall. There are a lot of migratory things moving around our area and you never know what you may run into. For this reason, it’s a good idea to bring gear for just about everything when you leave the dock.