Daily fishing report

Published March 14, 2005

They may be running a little late, but they're coming. Persistent cold fronts and chilly water temperature have slowed the migration of kingfish from the Florida Keys. The inevitable warming will draw them to our area soon.

Last weekend's Southern Kingfish Association tournament in Marco Island, 165 miles south, was won with a 67.13-pounder. Two others at 60-plus pounds rounded out the top three.

Until our water temperature nears 70, focus your attention south. As their migration progresses, many kingfish will hug the coast and follow bait schools within 3 miles of the beach. The masses of spring kings, often schoolie size, congregate over hard-bottom areas in 40 to 60 feet. Others will swing wide of our coast then into Egmont ships channel and Clearwater hard bottom. A few will filter their way into Tampa Bay in their never-ending search for food.

Tournament anglers will concentrate on quality, not quantity. They'll troll monster baits. Ladyfish, mullet, bluerunners, shad and mackerel work nicely. They spend hours working a ledge, deep-water pass or bait school inside 20 feet waiting for a monster. Recreational anglers want nonstop screaming drags and don't care about size. Whitebait, greenbacks, Spanish sardines and cigar minnows work well. Mix it up if you can. Ravenous kingfish often eat anything in sight but some days they are finicky.

--Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.