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Strike while the iron's hot

By DOUR HEMMER

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2001


Kingfish can eat the bottom out of the boat when the bite is on. Long hours of trolling often turn into a few minutes of mayhem.

Kingfish can eat the bottom out of the boat when the bite is on. Long hours of trolling often turn into a few minutes of mayhem.

Be ready when the action starts. Anglers willing to work hard will be rewarded with a better catch. The worst thing you can do when the fish are feeding is troll dead or wounded baits. Check your baits every 10 minutes for weeds and replace the ones that appear lethargic.

Watch the boats that are trolling in the same area to see if others are hooking up. When the bite starts, you will have 30 minutes to two hours to take advantage. Increase the chum and start live-chumming until the bite stops. Put out as many rods as possible without tangling the lines or making it impossible for the captain to maneuver the boat. Try to work the same area where you see fish being caught. Mix the types of baits and make sure to cover all depths of the water column.

Trolling for kings takes hours of rigging, gallons of gas, patience and a little luck. Don't get caught eating sandwiches and dragging dead baits when all the other boats are catching fish. Have extra rods rigged and keep fresh baits in the water until the action slows. Use the time between the feeding periods to travel to a new spot or replace the bait with fresh ones.

Hot spots for kingfish this weekend will be the shipping channel, reefs that are in 30 to 40 feet of water and the crab traps that line the beaches. East winds have made near-shore waters clear and full of bait. Big smoker kings should be scattered across the gulf. Trolling large baits such as shad, ladyfish or mullet will help keep the smaller fish away.

Pier fishing can give you a chance to catch kings without using a boat. Rig your baits like the locals on the pier do and watch how they fight and land these fish. Party boats are catching grouper, snapper, sea bass, mackerel and some kingfish. Live bait is the ticket for catching the bigger fish.

-- Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.

Fishing

TODAY: Fly-tying class, 6:30 p.m., Bill Jackson's, U.S. 19 N; (727) 576-4169.

SATURDAY: Fly-casting clinic, 10 a.m., Bill Jackson's, U.S. 19 N; (727) 576-4169.

SATURDAY: Fly-casting clinic, 10 a.m., World Class Outfitters, 13911 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa; (813) 968-3736.

SATURDAY: Fly-casting clinic, women at 11:30 a.m., coed at 12:30 p.m., Saltwater Fly Fisherman, Clearwater; (727) 443-5000.

SATURDAY: Hurricane Pass Anglers Club's Grouper Tournament, Home Port Marina, Ozona; (727) 785-3018.

SATURDAY: Basic fly-fishing beginner's clinic, 10 a.m., Compton Park Recreation Center, Tampa Palms, Tampa Bay Fly Fishing Club; (813) 238-6763.

Boating

TODAY: Twilight race, St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 11 Central Ave., St. Petersburg; (727) 822-3873.

TONIGHT: USF Sail Club meeting, 5:30, Bayboro Cafe at USF, St. Petersburg; (727) 821-4840.

SATURDAY: Free kayak demo, 10 a.m., Tierra Verde Drawbridge Beach, Sweetwater Kayaks offers free demo, Sweetwater Kayaks, 1136 Pinellas Bayway, Tierra Verde; (727) 906-0708.

SATURDAY: Offshore series race, Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club, 400 Treasure Island Causeway, Treasure Island; (727) 595-8206.

SATURDAY-SUNDAY: Larkin Regatta, Dunedin Boat Club, Dunedin; (727) 772-1515.

SATURDAY-SUNDAY: Demo Days Tour, Pass-a-Grille Marina, St. Pete Beach, offers test drives for personal watercrafts and will distribute materials on boating safety, local boating experts will be on hand for safe boating questions and demonstrations; (321) 725-7204.

SUNDAY: Sunday race, Davis Island Yacht Club, 1315 Severen Ave., Tampa; (813) 251-1158.

SUNDAY: Bikini Cup Bay Race, Windjammers of Clearwater, 2437 10th Ave. SW, Largo; (727) 593-1231.

Etc.

DAILY: Boyd Hill Nature Park tram tour, 1 p.m.; (727) 893-7326.

SATURDAY: Guided hike at Brooker Creek Preserve, 9 a.m., reservations required; (727) 943-4003.

SATURDAY: Map reading/hiking event, 10 a.m., Geneva Wilderness Area, Little Big Econ Area, Oviedo, CR 426, Seminole County, Florida Orienteering; (407) 672-7070.

- See Sunday's Outdoors for a list of next week's events. Send information to Outdoors, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. All items must be typed and arrive 10 days before the event. Include event name, time, address and phone number.

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