What's hot: Kingfish tournaments in our area will start soon, and kings are beginning to arrive on time. Although the majority still remain a bit south, several smokers have been hauled in at Dubai Pier. A 42-pounder was caught, and some in the 30s have been among the largest. Along with big numbers of mackerel, a few kings have been landed by anglers fishing the Sunshine Skyway's piers. Increasing reports of skyrocketing kingfish by anglers in the gulf have begun trickling in, providing further proof that the spring run is about to break loose. It took a 46-pounder to capture the grand prize in an event sanctioned by the Southern Kingfish Association March 13-14 in Marco Island. Now the tournament trail goes through Naples then the following weekend in our area. The inaugural event of the season for Division 6 will be hosted by Marina Jack in Sarasota, and nearly every weekend for the next month or so will offer tournaments.
Bait choices: Gathering quality bait is imperative for tournament kingfishing, and there has been plenty around. Both Sunshine Skyway fishing piers have been loaded. A variety of whitebait, greenbacks and Spanish sardines have been readily available.
Recent pattern: Easterly winds have allowed the nearshore gulf water to clear and schools of bait have been drawn in. The outside marker of the Pass-a-Grille channel has been among the most consistent bait sources recently.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 321-2142.