The fall king mackerel run is still going strong. The fish have seemed to come in waves; one week there are numerous fish more than 30 pounds, and a week or two later no one can find any more than 20. It also seems the fish are not moving south all the time. When the weather cools, they move to the south a bit, but when it warms, they quickly return. Most years this pattern remains in the bay area until at least Thanksgiving, but if it stays warm, they might stay until mid December. One thing different this fall is the aggregating habits of the baitfish the kings feed on. Many areas have seemed light on threadfin herring, sardines and cigar minnows. But since early October, there have been huge biomasses of bait just south of Johnís Pass, near the mouth of Clearwater Pass and, more recently, west of Tarpon Springs. These gatherings are sometimes an acre or two wide and 20 feet deep. When you find the forage fish like this, the kings and mackerel have been stacked up around the perimeter. Slow trolling live baits has produced fast-paced action with screaming drags and skyrocket-ing kingfish.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at [email protected]