The recent winds and cold conditions may have actually been a blessing in disguise for anglers, possibly extending the spring season for another week or two.
There are some reports of 20 to 50 snook being caught in the same day. They have returned to the flats and are responding to chum in an aggressive manner.
Live greenbacks are the bait of choice. The time and effort it takes to obtain nice bait is usually justified. A huge batch is not always necessary, but having enough to live chum is a bonus.
The most effective artificial lures for snook are any of the jerk-style baits or the classic shad-shaped soft-plastic jigs. Although usually considered a redfish lure, a gold spoon will fool a hungry "linesider" as well.
For those going offshore, kingfish can be found near the beaches and reefs. The water temperature dropped several degrees, which should hold the kings here for a while longer.
You do not have to go far to find the kings. Often they cruise the beaches in depths of 15 to 30 feet. There's also the option to stay inside Egmont Key. There have been many tournament-winning kingfish caught inside of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
Live bait is always a good bet. Large kings cannot pass up a freaked-out baitfish. Free-lined baits often get launched out of the water in the mouth of skyrocketing kings.
A common method for obtaining baitfish, such as blue runners, is using a Sabiki rig. These multihook rigs are effective and a favorite with kids. Warning: Never tie these rigs on before an outing. The small gold hooks snag everything from shirt sleeves to human skin.
Bait can be jigged up at the Egmont channel markers or the anchor chains of the freighters in the "parking lot." Deploy a chum block while you're anchored and the fish will come to you.
If you are grouper fishing, try a flat line while bottom digging. Don't be surprised if you get regular action from kingfish between grouper bites.
Dave Walker can be reached at (813) 310-6531, via e-mail at captdavewalk
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.snookfish.com.