What's hot: Cold fronts coming closer together and water temperatures in the low 70s can mean only that kingfish are plentiful just offshore. Trolling hardware, slow-trolling live bait, and anchoring and chumming the fish to you are the ways to catch a line-screaming kingfish without going far offshore. Most inshore county reefs hold plenty of bait and plenty of kings, all within 10 miles of shore, some as close as 2 miles. Most cold fronts come in with strong winds and a day of rain, so watching the weather closely is a good safety precaution.
Techniques: When trolling hardware (spoons and plugs), trolling speed should be 5 to 7 knots. When trolling free-lined live baits, keep the nose of the boat in the wind or tide, going in and out of gear to keep your lines straight and tight. If anchoring is preferred, drop a chum bag and free-line live bait out of and in the chum line. Preferred baits can be mackerel, ladyfish, blue runners and large threadfin herring.
Tips: Use a light drag. Kingfish have soft skin, and fighting them too hard will rip out the hooks. Most kingfish have two long, fast runs. Be aware of their very sharp teeth.
Jackie Otto can be reached at Betts Fishing Center, at [email protected] or at (727) 518-7637.