The Tampa Bay Times

Last weekends high winds and rough seas has rearranged the playing field a bit.  Near shore gulf waters have muddied, bait has scattered and so have the kings and mackerel.  Better weather the early part of this week has helped get us back in the game.  Following a hard blow the ships channel has long been a personal favorite “go to spot” when looking for where the fish have regrouped.  We’ll often cut into the channel around Markers 9 and 10, check the conditions and then head west.  More often than not, between there and the Whistler, waters will clear and bait will have ganged up on some of the many buoys that line the “ditch”.  It’s always a worthy starting point.  Next weekend – the “Old Salts” will host the granddaddy kingfish event of em’ all.  Anglers will come from all over to try and capture the coveted crown of the “King of the Beach” tournament.  Overall first place is guaranteed sixty grand and opportunities to win a bunch more.  It’s a family affair.  There’s a ladies and youth division, plus every kid that weighs a fish wins a prize.  There’s a batch of other ways to win cash and prizes.  They have divisions for mackerel, single engines, out-of-towners and a lengthy leaderboard.  Big fish go where big fish have been before.  We’re going where we’ve caught 40 pounders.  A twenty pounder ain’t going to cut it.  A thirty pounder will get you on the board but not likely the big, big money.  We’re going to be dragging ladyfish and blue runners.  A few mullet and bluefish will be welcomed and a mackerel jiggled up and let back on a double stinger rig would be fit for a king.