© St. Petersburg Times, published November 3, 2002
King mackerel season is in full swing, with fish as heavy as 45 pounds being caught within sight of our beaches.
This is the time of year that you are almost guaranteed a limit of toothy, hard-fighting, drag-smoking fish. The Clearwater hard bottom, Rube Allyn, Betty Rose, Tramp Steamer and Egmont channel are holding huge schools of kingfish.
Techniques vary, but if you want to catch the biggest kingfish of your life, use live bait with light tackle along the beach. Tournament fisherman have known for years to check with the Redington Beach Pier, Skyway piers and other nearshore fishing areas to see if big fish are on the beach.
The best kingfish angler on our coast, Capt. Gene Turner, told me 11 years ago that big female kings normally are caught less than a mile from the beach. After fishing 80 kingfish tournaments, I can say Turner was right. The big females roam the beaches like great white sharks looking for food.
A kingfish eats any big bait, including mullet, ladyfish, blue runners and Spanish mackerel.
Concentrate your efforts with live bait within a mile of the beach, and you will have your best opportunity to catch a big kingfish.
-- Larry "Huffy" Hoffman charters out of John's Pass, Treasure Island. Call (727) 709-9396.