By LARRY "HUFFY" HOFFMAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 4, 2001
Kingfish is the hot species and will remain a primary target well into May. We fished south of the Egmont Shipping Channel last weekend and caught all the 10-pound kingfish we wanted on live, slow-trolled threadfins and blue runners. Just about any shipwreck, reef or hard-bottom area that is holding bait will have kingfish on it. The morning bite has produced most of the bigger kings. Areas holding good numbers are the Clearwater hard bottom, Rube Allen, Betty Rose and the Egmont Channel markers.
In addition to kingfish on the wrecks, we watched numerous permit that were tailing on the surface and could not resist giving them a few offerings. Using a small pass crab as bait, we boated a 35-pound permit on one live bait hook tied to 15-pound line. Permit are schooling and are an easy target for a free-lined live shrimp or crab. Permit are strong fighters and take patience to catch. Unlike amberjack, however, permit will not take you into structure, so there is no need to "horse" the fish to the boat.
Grouper fishing still is excellent in 50 to 70 feet of water. If you are having trouble getting keepers to bite, try downsizing leaders to 30 pounds.
- Larry "Huffy" Hoffman charters the Enterprise out of Kingfish Wharf, Treasure Island. Call (727) 709-9396.