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Gear up for mackerel, toothy kings

November 20, 2010

If you have not experienced the fall migration and feeding frenzy of seemingly millions of ravenous Spanish mackerel with lots of bluefish, trout, sharks and kingfish mixed in, you are missing out on some fun and easy fishing.

Gather up the crew and head to the passes. Look for fish inside, in and outside the passes as well as along the beaches on the outside. If not there, head offshore a bit or head to a near shore reef. As long as the bait schools hang around the bite will continue.

This is the time of year to target not only Spanish macs, but also kingfish. Slow trolling live baits, such as a choice blue runner near flocks of birds, bait pods, or near shore or deeper reefs may result in a screaming drag as one of these big toothy sprinters inhales your live bait.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Speaking of drags, set yours fairly loose for a good sized king as a tight drag usually means a pulled hook with these speedsters. Please watch your fingers as these razor sharp teeth can cut you badly. Handle large kings with a gaff and gloves for safety.

Anchoring at a reef and chumming not only will bring lots of Spanish macs to the boat but draw the bigger kings as well. Cast for the Spanish with a variety of lures and flies for lots of action, but be sure to put out a couple of large live baits for a monster kingfish. Don't forget the bottom fish as well while casting the macs.

Grouper are close to shore this time of year so anchoring at a reef and dropping down shrimp, cut baits, or even frozen baits will catch grouper as well as snapper and whatever else might be down below and can keep the whole crew busy catching fish from the bottom to the surface.

Some of the best king fishing in December takes place off Naples Bay. Big fish gather there every year in 40-60 feet offshore. Look for birds and bait pods and cast or troll live baits around the action.

Again, for a jumbo king slow troll a big live blue runner or troll a couple of large plugs such as a Mann's Stretch 25, large Yozuri's, or any good sized plug over the reefs or on the edges of bait pods and hang on.

Trolling a large Yozuri plug paid off big time for me last season with a 43-pound king attacking my bait a mere three miles off the beaches of Sarasota. Again, tight drags mean lost or pulled kingfish, let them run.

To cast for Spanish macs I use braided line on a light spinning rod. Tie your main line to a 30-inch fluorocarbon leader of 30-40 pound test then add a 3-6-inch piece of light wire. This past week I opted for longer wire as I kept getting bitten off by some bigger fish. Not good for the fish or my wallet.

Do not use snaps, swivels or other hardware up your line as small Spanish will bite that as well and sever your line.

Adding wire to mono is easy once you master the Albright Special Knot. Go online and type it in and plenty of sites will show you how. While there, learn the simple Haywire Twist for attaching the lure to your wire leader.

Capt. Roy Bennett of HotOneII Charters had another good grouper trip last Monday. He went off Redfish Pass to 70- and 85-foot depths. Capt. Roy and two friends, Jack Zinke and Bill Schwartz, caught more than 50 red grouper with 14 keepers to 27-inches mixed in. After keeping their six they proceeded to throw other red grouper up to 24-inch back.

Unfortunately, they could not find any gags out there although there were a lot of flying fish and mackerel schools around. They used pinfish and porgy strips for bait along with octopus.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.



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