With water temperatures in the 70s and an abundance of bait around, it’s not surprise that increasing reports of scattered kingfish are trickling in. There have been some caught off Clearwater, some others in the area just north of the ships channel known as the “anchorage,” and a few at the outer markers of the channel. The bait supply seems to be the common denominator in these areas. While it might be premature to start targeting them, it’s not too early to get ready. I like to begin stockpiling gold hook rigs, hooks and trebles a box or two at a time. It tends to ease the pain of the expense all at once. I’ve already begun respooling reels and twisting wire because all indications point to an early spring run of kingfish. Mangrove snapper and sheepshead have continued to cooperate along the ships channel. If strictly focused on the mangos, whitebait might be the preferred choice. We’ve been opting to use live shrimp to get in on nonstop action from both species. Pinching shrimp in half is all that’s necessary and will further your bait supply. There’s not a better time for preventative maintenance. Don’t wait until it breaks. How old are your batteries? I’m changing mine and my bilge pumps, bait-well pumps and water pump. With kingfish and tarpon season just around the corner, I don’t want to be down when they get here.
Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.