Monday, April 23, 2018
Outdoors

Boats to flood our waters chasing kingfish

Offshore: The kingfish are here, and the stage is set for two of the largest and most popular kingfish tournaments of the season on back-to-back weekends.

The Old Salt Fishing Foundation hosts its King of the Beach event, which is likely to draw nearly 300 boats.

This event offers a variety of opportunities to win big money and prizes. Along with a 25-place leaderboard, there are divisions for the ladies and juniors.

There is a Single Engine Division that allows all entrants to compete with the big boys, and there is a $5,000 cash prize for finishing in 25th place.

Next weekend it will be the Southern Kingfish Association-sanctioned Suncoast Kingfish Classic out of Gators on John's Pass. In its 17th year, this event offers a $10,000 first-place prize and is the oldest and largest tournament in Division 6 of the SKA.

The results from the recent SKA event in Clearwater proves there are plenty of monster kingfish around right now.

The top three fish were more than 40 pounds, including team Native's top prize-winning 48.25-pound king. Sumorada rounded out the 10-place leaderboard with an impressive 35.31-pounder.

There were kings caught from within a mile of the beach out to the Middle Grounds. There were others caught in varied depths from Clearwater to Boca Grande and well south of there.

There were at least a couple caught inside the Skyway Bridge and several were landed in the Egmont Shipping Channel.

We managed to land a couple of kings near the 90-foot hole on the north end of Egmont Key, but we discovered many more tarpon and sharks than kingfish.

Kingfishing has been fairly consistent from midway out in the shipping channel to the Whistler Buoy. One day it is productive at Markers 9 and 10, then the next it is better at Markers 3 and 4.

A good bet is to start inside and work out. The buoys holding the most bait are likely holding the largest concentration of kingfish.

Inshore: Mastry's Bait and Tackle reports in St. Petersburg outstanding trout and redfish activity from customers working the flats around Pinellas Point and the Clam Bar.

Mackerel have shown up in increasing numbers along many of the flats and also the range markers in the bay.

Bottom fishing the edges of the shipping channel has remained hot for mangrove snapper, grouper, and even black sea bass inside the bay.

There have been bites reported on every drop using shrimp along the rocky edges near the Skyway Bridge.

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

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