By DOUG HEMMER
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 26, 2001
The kingfish are starting to spread along the gulf coast. Water temperatures are in the low 70s in most parts and kings have a large area of comfortable water to roam. There are reports of smokers as far south as Boca Grande, north of Tarpon Springs and way out in the middle grounds. This scenario can make finding fish difficult. Be prepared to fish more than one area. Make sure you have the bait and equipment to work the different depths.
The winds that blew before last week's big kingfish tournament changed my patterns from catching big fish to finding small ones. Rough seas kept us from traveling to new grounds. We decided to keep fishing the area that had small fish, but switch all the rods to real big baits.
Blue runners were run on down riggers and flat lines. The trolling speed was changed from slow to fast and finally just drifting. After a few hours without a hit we went to Spanish sardines rigged with purple and black skirts. Six kings hit the sardines. Changing tactics worked.
Our six fish weighed 50 pounds. No trophies or money, but we got the fish to bite and the team had a good time.
- Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.