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Kingfish are the talk of the town

By LARRY HOFFMAN
© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 16, 2001

The hot topic this week was the big kingfish caught during the past two weeks in the tournaments sponsored by Treasure Island Charities. Unfortunately, our team was unable to get the 30-pounder needed to get on the board.

Most of the big kingfish were taken from the Clearwater hard bottom. A few were taken off the Rube Allen.

Kingfishing near the beach traditionally produces the biggest fish. But live bait has been located in 50 to 60 feet of water. On Monday, we caught plenty of kingfish in 50 feet.

We watched a boat tangle with two kings that weighed more than 30 pounds in 55 feet just northwest of the Egmont Channel.

Our best baits were live shad and big blue runners. Spanish sardines and pilchards are producing kingfish that are 10 to 15 pounds. We use light tackle -- 15-pound test line, 30-pound wire and Nos. 1 and 6 live-bait hooks.

While slow-trolling for kings, you should use frozen chum blocks, which help attract them. You can expect to find kingfish this weekend at the Betty Rose, Egmont Channel, Clearwater hard bottom and the Tramp Steamer. Spanish mackerel are abundant along the beaches and have been feeding on small glass minnows. A small spoon or small white bait should produce all the macks you want, especially early in the morning and late in the day.

Grouper fishing in 35 to 55 feet has been excellent. Just about any ledge or hard bottom area holding bait is holding gag grouper. Most of the grouper have been chewing early and at the tide changes. Live pinfish or grunts are producing some of the biggest fish.

Redington Long Pier fishermen are catching kingfish, cobia, mackerel, flounder and trout. Our winds have been out of the east for more than three weeks, making the fishing conditions along our beaches excellent.

-- Larry "Huffy" Hoffman charters out of John's Pass, Treasure Island. Call (727) 709-9396.

Fishing

(All phone numbers begin with 727 unless noted)

TODAY-SATURDAY: Old Salt Fishing Club Fall King of the Beach Kingfish Tournament, Crabby Bill's, Indian Rocks Beach, 319-0568. SATURDAY: Shallow Water Fishing Expo, Tampa Convention Center, Tampa, (561) 562-5069 or castlow.com. UPCOMING: Kingfish Turkey Tournament, Nov. 23-24, Billy's Stonecrab and Seafood, Tierra Verde, 542-3900.

Seminars

SATURDAY: Fly-casting, World Class Outfitters, (813) 968-3736

SATURDAY: Fly-casting, Saltwater Fly Fisherman, Clearwater, 443-5000.

Boating

TODAY-SUNDAY: St. Petersburg Boat Show, Bayfront Center Yacht Basin, St. Petersburg, 821-7653. TONIGHT: USF Sail Club meeting, Bayboro Campus, 821-4840. SATURDAY: Safe-boating course, Clearwater, 462-6368.

SATURDAY: Gobbler Regatta, Dunedin Boat Club, 772-1515.

SATURDAY: Fall Bay Race/Manufacturer's Challenge, St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 822-3873. SATURDAY-SUNDAY: Snipe State Championships, St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 822-3873.

Etc.

SATURDAY-SUNDAY: Overnight canoe/camping trip, Waccasassa Bay Preserve, must provide own canoe, Suncoast Sierra Club, 938-4093. -- 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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