The fall kingfish season has been less than stellar for me. Normally I would expect good numbers of schoolie fish (6-10 pounds) to be in our area at this time of year savagely attacking schools of Spanish sardines, hardtails and blue runners. Several trips to the nearshore and midwater artificial reefs have resulted in a fish or two, but nothing consistent. The ray of hope for trollers has been the abundance of larger-than-average Spanish mackerel at all of the usual spots that should be harboring kingfish. Small spoons trolled behind No. 1 planers and many types of hard-bodied plugs are producing the best results. Barracuda have been numerous and have been quick to attack a hooked mackerel, leaving a set of lips on the spoon. We've found a great use for our kingfish tackle. The light sensitive rods with 20-pound class conventional reels have proved to be great to fish for sharks near any pass emptying into the gulf. We like to think of the monster sharks depicted in movies and TV, but the reality is most sharks we're catching are relatively small (10-40 pounds) and provide great sport on the light kingfish tackle. The 6/0 to 10/0 circle hooks and a 2-foot wire leader are all that's needed. A good chum slick augmented by chunked fish with some baits placed on the bottom and some suspended from balloons will produce action, especially on an outgoing tide.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.