What's hot: Spring fishing conditions are moving into summer weather patterns. The water temperature is climbing into the high 70s, and the spring migration of kingfish will move out of our area by next month. Grouper fishing and mangrove snapper fishing continue to be excellent. Garner Koons fished the Pipeline last week and caught a lot of amberjack up to 50 pounds, eight gag grouper, several mangrove snapper and some large scamp. Drew Gessert fished 50 miles out of Clearwater Pass and found good numbers of blackfin tuna. Fishermen willing to take the time have been able to chum up blackfins. Plenty of large kingfish will remain around our coast into June. Last week's King of the Beach Kingfish tournament produced a 49-pounder caught in the Egmont Channel.
Tactics: Big live baits slow-trolled are your best bet to catch that 30-plus-pound kingfish. Year after year, the Egmont Channel produces big kingfish. The Sunshine Skyway bridge has a lot of structure and bait is always good. Use high-speed retrieval reels with 20-pound fishing line. No. 1 live bait hook with a No. 4 treble trailer on No. 4 wire works best. Let the fish run. Use 1-pound drag settings; once the big king has made its run, follow the fish with the boat and try to fight it from the vertical position to prevent line wear.
Larry "Huffy'' Hoffman charters out of John's Pass, Treasure Island and can be reached at [email protected].com or (727) 709-9396.