By JAY MASTRY, Times Correspondent
Published November 2, 2005
While the majority of local kingfish tournaments are won by anglers using live bait, Karen Wotring proved it's not a requirement.
With conditions tough and suitable live bait hard to find, Wotring and crew of the Mother Ocean improvised and won the Southern Kingfish Association-sanctioned event at Holiday Inn Harborside last weekend. The winning 27.44-pounder hit a dead ballyhoo while drifting off of Clearwater.
Whether drifting or trolling dead bait, the object is to make your offering appear alive. Some anglers will fish the bait bare but its tendency to spin when trolled makes it difficult. Some fishermen including Wotring dress up the bait with a skirt before letting it out. This technique helps hide the hook and the flowing strands may make a stiff bait appear to be moving. Some rig theirs with a specially designed lead head that keeps trolled baits tracking true.
Kingfish that had been working their way inshore last week headed back out a bit after the water temperature dropped following last week's cold front.
Despite having caught smoker kings in 20 feet off of Clearwater and Blind Pass last week, return trips over the weekend were unproductive.
Conditions are favorable, however, for two of the most popular kingfish tournaments scheduled for the next two weekends. Easterly winds have allowed nearshore waters to clear and this week's warming trend will raise the water temperature to the 70s.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.