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There are several ways to fish for kingfish. Trolling spoons, plugs and ballyhoo work. Slow trolling large live bait also is an excellent way to catch the bigger smoker kings.

But the way I think is the most fun and exciting is to use medium spinning tackle and live bait. Spinners with 12- to 15-pound line work great. You can cast small to medium live bait easily.

Start before sunrise by catching a live well full of whitebait. Next, head offshore to some good hard bottom or reef. This is where networking with others is helpful in locating fish. Anchor and hang a block of frozen chum over the side. While waiting for this to work, slice some sardines thin and toss them over. Now start to chum with a few live bait. If there are any kings in the area, you will see them crash the frightened bait on the surface. Occasionally one will skyrocket into the air as it strikes.

Use a 12-inch wire leader, 29 pounds, and a long shank 1/0 hook with no barb. By not using treble hooks with stinger rigs, you don't do much damage. Kings caught this way are usually 5- to 10-pound schoolies, but you can catch huge numbers. Plunge the fish headfirst into the water when you release it. Try to limit your catch to a reasonable number and move on to a different variety.

_ Capt. Wendell Akins charters the Drifter out of Crystal Beach (Palm Harbor). Call (727) 785-3018, or e-mail at