The Tampa Bay Times

With easterly winds, an abundance of bait and water temperatures flirting with the seventies, it’s no surprise there’s been some kingfish mixed in with the mackerel within a couple miles of the beach.  East winds act as a vacuum along our shoreline.  It allows the water to clear and draws the bait schools in from offshore.  Opportunistic macks and kings follow them in to take advantage.  As of now the kingfishing has been hit or miss.  May go one day and get a few bites, may go the next and not.  It’s early….  and only going to get better.  For live baiters, few details while kingfishing are more important than the gathering and caring for your baits.  Treat em’ well and they’ll pay you back.  A healthy, frisky bait will out perform a beat up lethargic one 10 out of 10 times.  Don’t let your cast netted baits flop around on the deck.  I like to clear our nets into a 20 gallon plastic tub of water then immediately transfer them into the live well.  Jiggled baits on gold hook rigs may take a bit longer to gather but will be less stressed, only catching a few at a time.  Using a de-hooker to flip them straight into the well rather than your hands prevents loss of scales and protective slime.  When ladyfishing for bait, use the de-hooker – never a rag and your hands to squeeze the life out of them while getting your hook out.  If caging baits for a day or two, don’t forget to feed them.  While some may not eat in captivity, bluerunners, ladyfish and pinfish will.  Pieces of shrimp or fresh cut bait will keep em’ happy and healthy.

Captain Jay Mastry 

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