By RANDY ROCHELLE
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 21, 2001
Small kingfish have been holding in 50 to 70 feet of water. On a recent trip north of the Whistler Buoy, over some ledges, we ran into a large school of small kingfish ranging from 6 to 12 pounds. Slow trolling two live Spanish sardines on the surface produced one fish after another. While these smaller fish are fun to catch they won't do much good in a tournament. The smaller kings tend to run in schools while the larger fish are normally loners.
If you're going to be in a kingfish tournament, try fishing close to the beach in 15 to 30 feet. Try areas like the Blind Pass, Sand Key or Clearwater hard bottoms. These spots are easily found, just look for the crowd of boats outside the passes. These areas are known for holding large kings and a lot of tournaments have been won within a mile of the beach. Use bigger baits like a big blue runner, ladyfish or mullet to entice the bigger fish. If the water along the beaches is dirty, head out until you find cleaner water.
The bigger fish have been scattered from south of the shipping channel to Tarpon Springs.
- Randy Rochelle runs Islander Charters in St. Petersburg. Call (727) 528-1213.