Our summerlike conditions have turned the kingfish migration on full speed. Kingfish are being caught at all the traditional spots _ Egmont Channel, shipwrecks in 40 to 50 feet of water, Clearwater hard bottom and Sand Key. Blue and glow Kingfish spoons with 40 feet of 60-pound leaders trolled behind No.
2 and No.
3 planners have been producing good catches. Spanish mackerel have been feeding over reefs and shipwrecks. Use steel leaders and small hooks to catch these feisty 3- to 5-pound fighters.
If you still are looking for the big pull that will make your drag sing, cobia is the ticket. We have been catching cobia up to 70 pounds on offshore shipwrecks and in springs. There are fair numbers at the Skyway Bridge, near range markers and near the Egmont Channel markers.
Live bait is the key for these big bruisers. I like to free-line a live threadfin, pinfish or big pilchard hooked through the nose. Grouper rods with 40- to 50-pound test line, tied to a sharp No. 3 or No. 4 long shank live bait hook, will get the job done. If the tide is strong, you may have to put enough weight on your line to get it to the bottom. Drift past the Egmont Channel marker half a dozen times. If you do not get a hook-up, move to the next marker. On shipwrecks and springs, we anchor upwind and uptide so the stern is 50 to 60 feet from the shipwreck. We hook our baits behind the dorsal fin so they will swim toward the bottom.
Cobia are known for their strength, so take your time and make sure you have tired these bruisers out before you try and gaff them. Early morning has been our best bite.
_ Larry "Huffy" Hoffman charters the Enterprise out of Kingfish Wharf, Treasure Island. Call (813) 430-3474.