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Tips include catching record kingfish on the coast and amberjack at 90 feet, and using chum bags for black fin tuna.
By LARRY HOFFMAN
Published May 22, 2007
What's hot: Offshore anglers have seen record catches of kingfish along our coast. They are still being caught as far south as Boca Grande. The water temperature at 60 feet is still in the mid 70s, and there is all the live bait you could want. We fished Egmont Channel Markers 3 and 4 last week and caught more than 25 kingfish, including 20-pounders. Moving offshore, we caught a half-dozen amberjack in 90 feet. They were not huge, in the mid 20 pounds, but fed aggressively on live blue runners. Grouper and mangrove snapper are good over small ledges and hard-bottom areas in 84-130 feet. Our best catches of grouper have been with dead frozen sardines.
Tackle: When fishing multiple species, tackle is key. Use live bait for kingfish with 30-pound wire leaders and 15-pound test line with high-speed retrieval reels. Seven-foot rods with soft tips work for kings. For amberjack and grouper, we use 50- to 60-pound class tackle. Stout 6-foot rods with a smooth drag system are essential. Snapper requires 30-pound class tackle with locked-down drags to get the fish off the bottom. Double-hook rigs with green glow beads work for us.
Tips: If offshore, fish from an anchored boat. Place a chum bag out to attract kings, tuna and dolphin. We have been rewarded with black fin tuna. When tuna show up, start chunking to keep them in the area.
Larry "Huffy" Hoffman charters out of John's Pass, Treasure Island. Call (727) 709-9396 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.