What's hot: King mackerel is always the hot topic at this time of year. With tournaments every weekend for two months, the question is not where are the fish, but where are the big fish this week (and where will they be next week). During spring, some believe massive schools of king mackerel migrate from their fall haunts in South Florida and the Keys to the north with larger females (30 pounds and heavier) leading the way. There is some truth to this theory with consistent catches well before smaller kings arrive. Others believe there are many schools in the gulf and some migrate west to east to the bait-rich shallows near the coast. There are many catches in the offshore waters during summer that support this theory.
Keys: Kings usually start showing themselves when water temperatures reach 68-70 degrees (and in big numbers when they reach the mid 70s). If bait is scarce, so will kingfish. On the beach, look for threadfin herring on the surface or Spanish mackerel feeding on smaller fry baits. Offshore, sardines and cigar minnows will, in most cases, have a few kings nearby.
Tip: When tournament fishing, remember fish 35-40 pounds are 14-18 years old. So they have migrated many times, a little smarter each time. Lighter wire and smaller tackle might trick them.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.