What's hot: Kingfish have shown up in increasing numbers, and for the next several weeks look for fall migration to get even better. Kings were caught recently within a mile from shore in Manatee County. Over the weekend, a few were found off St. Pete Beach and a couple were caught in only 15 to 18 feet between the Don CeSar and Blind Pass, many schoolie size and mixed in the abundant mackerel schools that have invaded gulf beaches from Clearwater to Longboat Key.
Tips: Offering relatively small baits such as greenbacks or whitebait will invite strikes from both species. Larger baits, including ladyfish, shad, bluerunners or juvenile mackerel, are preferred if strictly targeting kings but will greatly reduce the amount of action. The ratio, at least in this early going, has been about a dozen macks for every kingfish bite. Even in this recent pattern of breezy conditions, easterly winds have protected the nearshore gulf waters. Clarity has remained good and schools of bait have been drawn to the beach, many just outside the swim buoys.
Added bonus: While I like to gather at least some bait in the dark to ensure taking advantage of a first light bite, supplementing our bait supply while fishing has been productive. With the amount of quality bait available, fresh baits may be readily cast-netted or jiggled on gold hook rigs while trolling.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 321-2142.