Good news! The kingfish are in our coastal waters in force and some very nice reports have been turned in.
Marco angler Marc Heidings took Steve Aldrovandi of Boston offshore fishing. Steve caught the largest smoker king of the day, along with some tiny tuna also called bonito. They were using live bait at some of the offshore wrecks from eight to 30 miles from shore.
Doug Kuether took Steven Stier and Josh Potter offshore fishing. They also found and caught the kings at every wreck they fished — along with some grouper and bonito. Their kings were hitting live bluerunners.
Just a few days before the trip, Potter and Kuether fished the same areas and bagged some nice size cobia, black grouper, lane and mangrove snapper.
Many anglers like to troll live blueurnners very slowly, keeping the runner near the surface. Of course, while very productive for kings it can also attract a good number of barracuda. They often beat the kings to the runner or nail the hooked king, leaving the angler half a fish.
Barracuda are not the only predators that will steal part of your kingfish catch. Other species including shark, cobia, amberjack and, believe it or not, dolphin, also called porpoise, will do the same thing.
Steven Stier had a dolphin grab one of his kings on his last trip with Kuether and Potter. It nearly stripped all the line from the reel before biting off a tasty morsel of kingfish. I only had about two spins of line left when it quit, he said. I guess half a fish is better than nothing, he concluded.
Several other methods are used for kingfish and Spanish mackerel including trolling ballyhoo, needlefish, deep running lures, spoons and heavy jigs. While you do not see many anglers using outriggers in our coastal waters, there are some that do.
Outriggers allow you to set baits or lures away from the boat. They can be set for a given depth and rigged with a quick release that lets the line break away from the weighted outrigger. This allows you to fight the fish.
There are also deep running planners that are mounted on the gunnel of the boat. They have a meter that allows you to set the break away bait at any depth you desire. The wise angler will have several rods out, set at different depths with different types of bait, until they hook up with the fish.
Your local marinas and tackle shops can help you decide what proper set up is best for your boat.
Now the bad news. The weather forecast is not looking very good as I prepare this article. Rain, cooler temperatures and some brisk winds will end up to putting a hold on the offshore activity. It should bounce back by the time you read this article unless another front comes behind it.
The lighter side would be it blows through, warms up and calms down. If that plays out and the water temperature doesn’t drop too much, it’s a good bet the kings will stay in our area.
The near and offshore wrecks, towers and locations with a hard bottom and some profile should be producing cobia and amberjack. Live bait including bluerunner, pinfish, grunt, ladyfish and jack will top the list. The deeper you go the better your chances.
Our inland, passes and outer shoreline will continue to be a haven for the incoming sheepshead and black drum as they are here in force to spawn. Other species include redfish, snook, pompano, tarpon, and mangrove snapper. Add some nice size trout that will be released in December and you have a menu for exciting fishing.
Last week I included some information about the federal proposal to ban fishing in half of Dry Torugas National Park. I have not heard if they went with it but will update you when I find out.
Marco Island realtor Wright Taylor and Terry Metzger of Cypress Cycle reports there is a movement to change the Florida recreation saltwater fishing license that could require all Florida residents to purchase one regardless of whether they’re fishing from the shoreline or are 65 years of age. Non-residents already have to obtain one.
Why change the rules for Florida fishing licenses you ask? As you may already know, there has been and still is a federal sales tax on sporting goods. The money collected is funneled into the states with the amount each state gets determined by the number of fishing licenses issued there. Florida would get a larger cut of the tax dollars if they sell more licenses.
There is more to learn about this, so I will continue on the subject next week.
Have a great week!
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Red Stier produces and hosts the Anglers Outlook TV show at 7 a.m. Saturday, Comcast channel 8. The show is replayed Mondays at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast channel 35. Questions or comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or 172 Trinidad St., Naples, FL 34113.