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The key to catching giant kingfish in the past few weeks has been to locate bait pods that are dancing on the water surface about 5 miles west of Clearwater Pass.

Acres of threadfin herring and Spanish sardines have moved in at this depth and are futilely trying to outswim these hungry smokers to no avail. The big kings resemble a pack of wolves, traveling in groups of four or five while circling the schools of bait. Then, without notice, they're attacking at speeds of 30-plus mph, grabbing mouthfuls at a time.

I have been slow-trolling circles around these schools of baitfish and consistently producing big fish for weeks. Jigging up fresh baits from the schools and changing them frequently further enhanced the bite. Small hooks, light-wire leader and smaller-test fishing line were needed to fool these keen-eye fish because the water was so clear.

Some kings hit the scales at close to 40 pounds, which made a profitable showing during the most recent tournament weigh-in at John's Pass. The Jaws Too fishing team won $13,000 for a 38-pounder.

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