What's hot: It appears it'll be a great summer for kingfish. We've found them in several areas instead of being incidental catches while bottom fishing. The 10 Fathom curve (60 feet), with its ledges, jumbled rock areas and wrecks, holds the majority of the bait and kings.
Tactics: Many fish we caught have been stragglers from huge bait piles of Spanish sardines, hardtails and blue runners. Catching the bait with Sabiki rigs using a 3- or 4-ounce sinker is relatively easy. Presenting them is more complex. Downriggers can be used with a clip near the weight near the bottom. A 2- to 4-ounce trolling weight can be used at mid depth. A nose-hooked bait can be deployed on the surface. A stinger rig should be used no matter the depth. Initial light drag settings should be employed to prevent breakoffs.
Tips: Slow troll around bait piles with lines far enough out that they pass through the bait. Bait piles might not be visible from the surface, so watch the depth finder.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.