Captain's Corner

By Larry Hoffman
Published January 25, 2007

What's biting: Warmer-than-usual weather is keeping the kingfish in our area. The south county reef, the Betty Rose wreck and the Egmont Channel markers are producing nice catches. On our last trip offshore we landed a half-dozen kingfish on flat lines while bottom fishing. Two topped 24 pounds, making great runs of a couple of hundred yards. Grouper fishing is good to excellent. Capts. Garner Koons and Mike Hubbard have been having good luck with gag grouper and mangrove snapper in 45 feet. This past week, in two stops, they boated a half-dozen gags, two at 30 inches long.

Tactics/tackle: While grouper fishing, deploy flat lines with live bait off your transom. Traditional kingfish gear works; live bait hooks with steel leaders and stinger rigs work for us. Flat lines work best on strong tides that keep your live bait away from your boat. Small balloons tied to your line can keep bait at the desired depths. Live bait has been easy to get using good hook rigs. Large schools of pinfish have been located in 55 feet. The Egmont Channel markers are holding good number of small blue runners.

Tips: To attract kingfish to your anchored boat, take the time to cut up frozen sardines and get a chum slick going.

Larry "Huffy" Hoffman charters out of John's Pass, Treasure Island. Call 727 709-9396 or e-mail him at huffyl@tampabay.rr.com.