This week, cobia, kingfish and sharks began moving to many of our favorite fishing holes.
Where's the bait? Normally, Spanish sardines, blue runners and cigar minnows settle on many of the reefs along our coastline. We managed to fill the live wells adequately, but it has been a chore compared to other springs. All month new batches of migratory fish will move through. Without the food source readily available, they'll attack most any bait on a hook. After such a long journey, their appetites are huge. For now, we will have short visits from these predators. They are simply trying to find the bait, too. If they don't find it here, they will move on. The bait will eventually arrive en masse, allowing these bigger fish to stick around longer.
Kingfish: We started catching kingfish this week in 70 feet of water. For the most part, these fish are the regular schoolie size of 5 to 10 pounds. Tossing a live threadfin herring off the back of the boat produced numerous attacks. One of my clients got quite a thrill early this week while fishing for grouper. Jimmy Verner dropped a live pinfish toward the bottom. Instead, a 30-pound kingfish grabbed it. A 60-pound test line with drags locked down tight is normal to prevent grouper from swimming into the rocks. In this case, the king had a circle hook in the corner of the jaw, so it could not bite through the monofilament leader. It took everything Verner had to stop the giant mackerel from reaching its high-speed run. After 100 feet of locked drag, the exhausted king was boatside. In most cases like this, the king wins by snapping the line, reaching 30 mph in seconds. The traditional method of king fishing is a light drag, wire leader and lots of line on the reel. This allows the kingfish to take its run, then tire.
Sharks: Big bull sharks have shown around the boat a few times this week. They cruise through the lines once the action with other fish gets intense. These brawny sharks can often ruin a great bite from other species. Either throwing a baited hook into its path or leaving the area are your options. We often opt to catch the big sharks because they put up a great fight. Large spinner sharks have also started migrating our way. These sharks not only fight hard, but they often jump out of the water in hopes of tossing the hook. It's quite a sight to see a 150-pound shark spin out of the water. Any chunk of fish that is in the area will get their attention, since that's the real reason why they found you.
Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 439-2628 or see www.jawstoo.com.