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Captain’s Corner: Trolling for kings unusually productive for this time of year

By Dave Zalewski, Times Correspondent

In most years, we tend to forget about trolling and devote our trips solely to bottom fishing after Thanksgiving. This year has proved to be an exception. Kingfish have been available from 100 yards from shore at the mouths of passes all the way to 60-foot depths. The larger, solitary fish have been hugging the shoreline in search of Spanish mackerel, sardines and blue runners. Trolling these baits as slow as you can with a stinger rig sized to the bait may produce a smoker. It takes a lot of patience to target these large fish, and we prefer to fish farther offshore in search of 8- to 12-pound "schoolies," which are ravaging large bait schools that have not left the area. The mid water artificial reefs and wrecks in 40 to 60 feet are great places to start, but we have found the best fishing about a mile from structure on hard bottom areas holding bait. Troll a No. 1 planer with a No. 1 spoon along with a No. 2 planer with a large spoon to quickly reveal if there are feeding kings in the area. Once located, use the MOB key on the GPS to return to the strike zone. Switching to light spinning or bait casting tackle and trolling stinger-rigged live baits caught on site with a sabiki to match the hatch will produce more sport than sticking with the planers.

Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.