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KINGS AMONG LURKING BITERS

Kingfish provided plenty of action throughout 2008's hot summer months when they were supposed to have left our area. It appears we may experience this same pattern this year.

We have been able to target them at the west end of the shipping channel, offshore wrecks, the midwater artificial reefs and on the Gulfstream gas pipeline in the 80- to 90-foot depths. We have used either spoons or plugs trolled behind planers, or cigar minnows and Spanish sardines caught on site with Sabiki rigs, then slow trolled with stinger rigs.

Mixed in with these small kingfish schools have been Spanish mackerel, bonito and barracuda, which have been willing to strike the same offerings intended for the kingfish.

Red grouper, lane snapper and a few yellowtail snapper have shown up a little late on the hard-bottom areas in 90- to 100-foot depths.

Always put out a stinger-rigged flatline baited with either a live or frozen sardine while bottom fishing to catch the pelagic fish, such as kingfish, mackerel, bonito or even mahi-mahi. They will be attracted to the activity and chum line produced when the grouper and snapper expel their stomach contents on the way up from the depths. Be on the alert for schools of small "chicken" dolphin to show up underneath the boat. Keep them interested by cutting small slivers of sardine to use as chum, then entice them to bite using the same size sliver on a thin-wire 2/0 long-shanked gold hook without any weight. These small dolphin have small stomachs, so using large pieces of chum will quickly fill them up, turning off the bite.

Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.

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