We now have a summertime kingfish season. In the past we’ve basically given up on kingfish at the end of May because the feeling was they had migrated to the northern gulf to spawn, not returning until mid-October. We’ve targeted kingfish this year in several ways. Trolling spoons and plugs behind Nos. 2 and 3 planers at the usual seasonal kingfish haunts such as artificial reefs, the end of the shipping channel and the wrecks in 60-90 feet of water have consistently produced. Trolling along the natural gas pipeline between the mitigation areas has resulted in kingfish, Spanish mackerel and some catch-and-release amberjack. When bottom fishing, deploying two stinger-rigged flatlines is imperative. One is baited with a frozen Spanish sardine, the other with a live sardine or hardtail. The dead sardine sinks in the water column and often is attacked by pelagics that have been drawn to the area by the bottom-fishing activity and chum line produced by bottom fish expelling their stomach contents. Slow trolling live baits caught on site before pulling anchor or putting out the planers and trolling hardware at 6 knots has yielded a number of unexpected species. Mahimahi, blackfin tuna, Spanish and king mackerel and barracuda have ended up in the fish box by employing this new-to-us method.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.