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The action heats up before it gets cold

Reports of smoker kings were dampened for a few days this week by a powerful cold front. Before the front, the big kings were unusually active, but dirty water and high winds prevented them from locating prey afterward. I believe big predators are somehow aware of weather changes and will eat as much as possible before they occur. This is great for everybody but the baitfish.

Before the front struck, my parties averaged 10 kingfish by slow-trolling a variety of live baits over and around artificial reefs. Most were in the 15- to 20-pound range, accompanied by a few bruisers that were 30 pounds and more. Also mixed in were bonita and jumbo Spanish mackerel.

Capt. Ron Keene of Redington Shores was in search of kings last weekend when a 35-pound smoker snatched his blue runner as it was slow-trolled over a rocky structure in 40 feet of water. The beast peeled 300 yards of 15-pound line off the reel before it was gaffed and brought home for dinner. Keene also attributed this big catch to a feeding frenzy hours before a cold front.

Using scaled sardines, the parties of Capt. Tom Kane, aboard the T-Kat, caught more than 20 kings and bonita before the front arrived.

Even landlubbers can fish for smoker kings by simply strolling to the end of Redington Long Pier and tossing out a live bait. Owner Ernie Torok reported that at least three smokers were pulled over the railings just days before the front.

These reports indicate you should make yourself available for fishing a few hours hours before a cold front hits. Weather changes are pretty much a weekly occurrence this time of year, and I can assure you the big ones will be on the prowl.

A string of kingfish tournaments begins this weekend in our area Plan on seeing more boats than usual _ from all over the southeast _ on the water today as they prepare for the first of many big-money tournaments.

_ Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (813) 595-3276.