The Spanish Mackerel are here as well as the Kingfish. Since they are pelagic fish, which means they roam the open ocean, they are always on the move. So you could catch a bunch today and they are gone by tomorrow. They will stay in the general area as long as the water temps, oxygen levels, forage and clean water are available.
It’s very important to know that they come through in waves, so a big school will come from the south through the Skyway area where you are currently fishing, stay a few days then move out. Soon behind them another school will migrate through. This will continue until the water temperatures get close to 80 degrees. When the water temps stay over 80 degrees, most of the Spanish Mackerel and Kingfish will have pushed north or moved west to deeper, cooler and more stable water. March 17th — Saint Patrick’s Day — is usually what most anglers use to mark the start of the mackerel run.
Rigging for Kings
To rig for Kingfish from the Skyway Fishing Pier, the first thing you will need is a reel capable of holding 400 yards of line. Either a spinning reel or a conventional reel will work. Monofiliment would be my first choice of line because of the stretch it has. But that would make the fishing reel big and heavy. So from a fishing pier, my choice would be braided line. It’s thinner and you’ll be able to have a large capacity of line on a smaller fishing reel. But because braided line has no stretch, you will have to use a softer-tip fishing rod and keep your drag lighter. Shakespeare Ugly Sticks make some really good pier Kingfish rods. They are very reasonably priced.
For terminal tackle, I would have some Sabiki Rigs to catch scaled sardines and threadfins to use as bait. I would have some wire leader and 40-to-60 pound fluorocarbon. I would have some 3/0 to 6/0 long shank hooks, and also some floats and some split shots.
I would free-line a scaled sardine on 3/0 long shank hook with the 50 lb. fluorocarbon leader, and free-line another large live bait like a blue runner or ladyfish on a stinger rig.
One of the most important things I would do is cast net or Sabiki a lot of scaled sardines and threadfins. I would cut them into pieces and consistently chum with them. This will bring a lot of Kingfish to you. You could also use a frozen chum block. I suggest using both.
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