By DOUG HEMMER
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 13, 2001
The kingfish run is heating up. Twenty-pounders are being caught in Tampa Bay. Most of the regular kingfish spots have fish.
Some spots might produce one day and not the next. It is best to plan on more than one stop. Take along hardware in case the bite is slow, and troll a few deep-runnng plugs for grouper. Kingfish also will hit the deep plugs. When a king hits the plug, switch back to live bait.
On the reefs, permit are feeding on crabs and live shrimp. They are easy to see when the sun is high and the gulf is calm. Cast the bait up-current and free-line it back toward the fish. Kings and barracuda are hanging in the same area as the permit.
Snook are getting close to beach areas. The best action has been on the Tampa Bay side of the Sunshine Skyway bridge, but that area was slow on my last trip. My next trip will target areas on the gulf side of the bridge. Sardines, shrimp and pinfish are working great. We use shrimp around the docks, pinfish near the bridges and sardines everywhere else. Catching redfish can be difficult when there are too many boats in the same vicinity. The sound of engines and trolling motors spook the reds. Try setting up on a point near the congested area and wait for the reds to come to you.
Large trout are hanging with the reds and will hit a corked, white bait. Some of the trout weigh more than 6 pounds. If you let the big females go, they will restock your spot for future trips.
Pier fishing is at its best this time of year. The water temperature is perfect for tarpon, kingfish, snook, reds and mackerel. Potter Pier is a hot spot for mackerel. Redington Pier is known for kings and tarpon. The piers at the Skyway are good when the bait gets thick. Most of the fish will be near the structure, so fish under the pier. Local knowledge helps when it comes to bait and techniques. I ask the regulars for tips every time I fish on a pier.
Have rods rigged for all types of fishing. This is the one month of the year where all the species of fish that visit our area are here at the same time.
-- Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.