A batch of kingfish has settled along our coastline, and there will be more as water temperatures gradually dip into their comfort zone. In spite of howling winds, the easterly flow has allowed the waters within a couple of miles of the beach to remain fishable. East winds have provided protection for the nearshore gulf waters, keeping them relatively clean and drawing huge schools of bait within a mile of shore. We caught kingfish all week in 18-22 feet, slow trolling full-grown greenbacks between Pass-a-Grille and Blind Pass. Focusing on the bait schools has been most productive. Diving birds often give away the school's location, and your bottom recorder will reveal their whereabouts. Working the bait pods provides the opportunity to supplement your bait supply. Fresh-caught bait jiggled on gold hook rigs while you're trolling is a bonus. Large mackerel are mixed in with the kings and provide drag-screaming action between king bites. They're chewing the same big baits the kings are and with only a two-fish limit per person on the kings, it's a plus being able to keep a few extra fish if you elect to. Though we've been trolling, I've observed others wearing them out while anchored and chumming. I like anchoring and chumming on days of strong tidal flow. This week's full moon is going to provide that. Chum slicks are extended and fly-lined baits are held higher in the water column where the kings and mackerel play.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.