On hold: High winds and small craft advisories the past few days have put a temporary hold on what has been a promising start to the fall kingfish run. We left them chewing on our last trip before the blow. A 33-pounder was our largest — along with a half-dozen others and some full-grown mackerel — while slow trolling a mile and a half off the beach at Sand Key. Reports of better-than-average kingfish action have increased from the outer markers of the Egmont shipping channel. Take along a bunch of rigs if you go. Particularly at Markers 1 and 2, a menacing pack of marauding sharks has helped itself to many hooked kings.
What's ahead: Though this cold front has kicked up the seas and muddied the nearshore gulf waters, it might be just what we needed to push the next wave of kings our way. Easterly and diminishing winds forecast for the rest of this week will allow inshore waters to clear right on time for the biggest kingfish event of the year, the Old Salt King of the Beach tournament on Saturday.
Tips: Typically each passing cold front reshuffles the deck. Bait schools that had been consistent in certain areas will scatter and need a few days to regroup. Kingfish schools, too, will break up and head offshore during inclement weather but will quickly return when the bait does and conditions improve. Bait will seek the security of heavy structures as they gang back up after a front, making bridges a best bet to fill the live well.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 321-2142