What's ahead: When water temperatures rise into the high 60s and low 70s, the spring kingfish run should be here. Expect the shipping channel to show the first signs of life, as this usually holds the mackerel's favorite foods. Baits such as blue runners, cigar minnows and Spanish sardines should start showing themselves around the markers when the cold fronts spread out a bit.
Tackle: When heading out for kingfish, use No. 8 Sabiki rigs to secure a live well full of cigar minnows. These baits usually are found on hard-bottom areas near large structure. They swim through the entire water column on their way to the bottom for security. Because kingfish are so temperature sensitive, they may be at 10 or 60 feet, but your bait should pass in front of them.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.