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Captain’s Corner: Kingfish temporarily heading offshore as cold fronts move in

Jay Mastry, Times Correspondent
Published: October 24, 2017 Updated: October 24, 2017 at 10:18 PM

Kingfish had just begun showing up in better numbers ahead of this cold front. On Saturday we caught more than a dozen kings and about 20 large mackerel by slow-trolling greenbacks and whitebait around bait pods within a couple of miles of the beach off St. Petersburg. Westerly winds associated with passing fronts will temporarily muddy nearshore waters and scatter the bait. Kingfish will push offshore seeking clearer conditions. Often after a return to an easterly wind pattern, nearshore waters will cleanse in three or four days. Bait schools will gang back up, and the kings will be drawn back in. We exclusively use stinger rigs for bigger baits while kingfishing to avoid the "short strikes" kings are known for. Some of the larger kings we’ve caught have been on the 12-pound spinning tackle, whitebait and single-hook rigs intended for mackerel. We’ve been gathering a well full of whitebait for mackerel and "chummers," then jiggling up large greenbacks for kingfish baits. Slow trolling has made it easier to run down the kings when we get them on the light spinning gear. Others have done well anchored and chumming. You’ll want to have an anchor ball so you can throw and go when the big one comes along.

Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.