Kings aim to please, but other options are present.

By LARRY HOFFMAN Times Correspondent
Published May 11, 2007

Our spring kingfish run has been the strongest in many years. The bottom fishing for grunts, grouper and snappers is also excellent.

Avoiding the Red Tide is the key to good summer and fall fishing. The last two years of Red Tide made nearshore fishing difficult. Most of the area 3 to 10 miles offshore is recovering and starting to produce fish again.

Bottom fishing on and near the Pipeline is excellent, with good catches of mangrove snapper, American red snapper and scamp reported. Both red snapper and mangrove snapper respond to chumming. Small pieces of cut sardines chummed off the transom of your boat will bring the snapper to the surface. Using medium tackle you can actually target the fish you want to catch. We have had American reds and mangrove snapper feeding at the surface in 130 feet of water. It is quite a sight to see 30 to 50 fish competing for your baits. This chumming technique also works for amberjack. Start your chumming using cut sardines, then start releasing small live baits such as pilchards and small pinfish. The amberjack will come to the surface and you will be able to cast your live baits to them. Forty-pound amberjack busting on the surface is exciting.

Kingfish are still in the area with another push of fresh kingfish this past week. The Egmont Channel markers 1, 2, 3 and 4 are holding kings and live baits in and around the channel markers. Spanish sardines have proved to be the best bait. The kings have not been large - 10 to 16 pounds - but there have been plenty of them. The Betty Rose, Rube Allyn, 10 Fathom Wreck and the Shrimp Barge are holding bait and kingfish.

The Shrimp Barge, in 55 feet of water south of the Egmont Channel, has been hit and miss with permit tailing over the wreck. Light spinning tackle with a live pass crab or a jumbo shrimp hooked directly to the fishing line will entice strikes. The permit have been 15 to 25 pounds.

Blackfin tuna have arrived offshore but the shrimp boat fleet has been small. If you are fortunate to find shrimp boat, live Spanish sardines free-lined off the transom of your boat is the best approach to catch the tuna.

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