© St. Petersburg Times, published December 1, 2002
Big fish this time of year means amberjack and blackfin tuna. Springs and shipwrecks are holding good numbers of jacks. The biggest challenge is ensuring you have plenty of live, large bait.
Egmont Channel markers 3 and 4 were holding blue runners, pinfish and Spanish sardines. Experience has proven big jacks like big baits and can't refuse a large blue runner.
Tackle should be in the 50- to 60-pound class. Hooks, 5/0 and 6/0, tied to 6-foot leaders are adequate to catch 50-pound jacks.
Fishing Wednesday over a spring in 120 feet of water produced amberjacks up to 35 pounds. They were picky feeders, though, requiring us to downsize leaders to 40-pound fluorocarbon to entice the bigger jacks to bite.
Shrimp boats are showing up southwest of Egmont Channel for their fall action. Live Spanish sardines free-lined off the transom of the shrimpers will produce great tuna action. A No. 3 live-bait hook on 30-pound tackle can land a tuna up to 30 pounds.
To get the tuna feeding, cut frozen Spanish sardines into 1-inch chunks and throw a handful near the shrimp boat. The chumming will start a feeding frenzy if blackfin are in the area. Fish near each shrimper for about 30 minutes. Move to another boat if you haven't caught a tuna.
With gulf waters cooling fast, if you still feel compelled to catch good numbers of kings, try fishing 8 to 10 miles south of Egmont Channel where surface temperatures are in the mid 70s.
-- Larry "Huffy" Hoffman charters out of John's Pass, Treasure Island. Call (727) 709-9396.