© St. Petersburg Times, published March 17, 2002
The start of kingfish season requires some work to produce banner catches.
As the fish begin to migrate from South Florida, you'll find each day different. Thousands of the giant macks will travel together great distances before settling in.
The first few pushes of fish don't stay in our area long, maybe a couple days, before traveling farther up the coast. If you find them during one of their short pit stops, action can be extraordinary. Hungry from traveling, kings will devour anything.
The most productive method for locating schools of kings is trolling. Immediately after the first strike mark the spot with a GPS plotter, then circle around. The accuracy of the GPS will allow the boat to track back over the school.
If you really want an unforgettable show, break out the scaled sardines. Slinging handfuls of these behind the boat will start the kings jumping out of the water in all directions as they gobble the frantic baits. As fast as your baited hooks hit the water, they'll be hit.
This is a good time to try ultra-light rods. The nickname "smoker" was given to the kingfish for its speedy runs and capability to melt a reel's drag. Reels must have at least 300 yards of line and drags must be smooth to withstand the runs.
The hardest thing early in the season is locating kings. The past two years I have found them in 30-40 feet. After a few weeks the migration will be in full swing, and fish will settle in more areas.
-- Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 595-3276, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.