The major fall migration of smoker kings has arrived! Numerous fish in the 30-pound range were caught this week. In fact, Kevin Farner and Dan Hays boated a nice 37-pound kingfish in Egmont Channel. The kingfish run should go into December.
Live bait is a must in catching big kingfish. Blue runners, shad, pilgards, thread fin herring, Spanish sardines and cigar minnows are abundant at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, Egmont Channel Whistler, John's Pass, sea buoys and most structures. Anywhere you find schools of baitfish, chances are you can catch kingfish. Getting live bait is the most important part of the day, and using gold hook rigs seems to work the best in deeper water. Bring four frozen chum bags, reels equipped with 20-pound line, and No.
2 live bait hooks with classic stinger rigs. We use No.
3 and No.
5 wire to tie our rigs. The following areas are holding kings: the Rube Allen, Egmont Channel, Betty Rose and Clearwater hard bottom.
My best results are slow trolling live bait. I place a frozen chum bag in the water to help attract the kingfish. We run two baits down on riggers and four baits on the surface. Commit to one area for at least two hours. Kingfish normally have a morning bite and an afternoon bite. So be patient, and the reward may be that 50-pound king of the beach.
_ Larry "Huffy" Hoffman charters the Enterprise out of Kingfish Wharf, Treasure Island. Call (813) 430-3474.