Huge schools of king mackerel have arrived early. Unusually warm weather seems to have brought them to town. There have been numerous reports of swarming kings outside 50 feet of water from Clearwater south. From Tarpon Springs north we have not seen as many, but that could change in a day or two as the fish slowly migrate north. For the most part, the fish are small; 8 to 15 pounds has been the average. These are often referred to as “schoolies” because they swim together in big groups. Check high-relief wrecks and where birds are diving offshore. Also try trolling a few drone spoons on Nos. 3 and 4 planers at 5 mph. This will allow you to cover ground while prospecting a large area for subsurface activity. When casting into a school of kings, avoid using lures or rigs with treble hooks, especially multiple trebles. The release survival rate drops rapidly the longer you keep kings out of the water, and having to remove multiple hooks from a fragile mackerel mouth can result in severe damage or death.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at email@example.com.