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Captain's corner

By JAY MASTRY

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 19, 2000


If you're willing and able to get there, kingfish continue to dominate the offshore action. Even in less than desirable conditions, bait has held at the Whistler Buoy in the Egmont Shipping Channel, and so have the kings there to devour them.

Thursday, Scott Sadorf and his party battled the elements and more than a dozen kingfish while slow trolling Spanish sardines and blue runners they caught near the buoy.

Though nearshore waters have muddied during recent cold fronts, look for the smokers to return to the beaches when the bait does and the water clears.

Now is a good time to bottom fish those rocky formations or reefs you may know in the bays. I fished some rubble and a sunken boat in only 9 feet of water Thursday in Boca Ciega Bay. We managed to yank a couple keeper grouper out and released a bunch of shorts while waiting for the seas to calm.

Others have done well in Tampa Bay, often in 15 feet or less. If the area you are working is large enough, a slow-trolled, deep-diving plug works well. Otherwise, anchor and fish them straight up and down with either live or dead bait.

Resist the temptation to overfish those "honey holes", as they aren't likely to recover as quickly as an offshore ledge or wreck.

Some of my most memorable kingfish trips have been on Thanksgiving Day, and weather permitting this year should be no exception. Get out early and be back in time to filet ... err, carve the turkey.

-- Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.

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