© St. Petersburg Times, published May 5, 2002
There might be fewer now than two weeks ago, but plenty of kingfish have ignored the warm water and refused to leave. Healthy amounts of bait have helped extend our spring run.
We caught kingfish all week working bait pods drawn to the buoys in the ship channel.
A barge anchored 1 1/2 miles outside the Whistler was a fish haven. There for weeks in 58 feet while working on the underwater pipeline, this super structure was lit up at night and attracted an enormous amount of bait.
Kingfish and mackerel weren't the only opportunists. Several sailfish were hooked in the area, and Wednesday, Paul Rogers on Getaway had 10 blackfin tuna along with his limit of kings. Amberjack, cobia, barracuda and an occasional bonita kept drags screaming.
The barge moved, but predators remain. Thursday, after a few kingfish, Katie Carr realized she had hooked something. After the first hour, we couldn't see what inhaled her slow-trolled sardine. Forty-five minutes later, her 48-pound amberjack confirmed why we don't recommend amberjack fishing with 20-pound test and a toothpick for a rod.
Toothy kings will be at the buoys in the ship channel that hold the most bait and many artificial reefs. The silver ones will be as far up the bay as the Courtney Campbell Causeway. The Skyway Bridge will be a good bet, and anglers on Redington Long Pier prove they're along our Gulf Beaches.
-- Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.