So far, the cold-water upwelling that has plagued the near shore anglers for the past three years has not occurred. That means fish are inhabiting their normal wrecks and artificial reefs up and down the Atlantic.
On a fourth of July trip, my son, Tom, had a good mixed bag. Preparing for a kingfish tournament next weekend, he headed out to see where the kings are holding. He ended up catching about ten kingfish to twenty pounds. Some were caught over the near shore wrecks, but more importantly the largest ones were caught on the beach.
On the beach is a relative description. Fish can be anywhere from just behind the breakers to maybe a mile off the sand to be considered fitting this description. That is a good thing for kingfish anglers.
Kings come to the beach to spawn, and as long as the water stays warm, they will remain for up to a month or more. During this time, people walking the beach can see big smoker kings that skyrocket straight into the air ten feet or more.
This means that next weeks big kingfish tournament out of St Augustine will find the majority of anglers fishing the beach. Some big kings should show up at the weigh-in. Hopefully the biggest will be Toms!
Along with finding his kings, he found bait and plenty of it. Cigar minnows and schools of Spanish sardines were on every wreck and live bottom he fished. He had no problem running out of live bait.
Unfortunately, along with summer, warm water and bait comes the barracudas. Schools of large cudas circled under and around the bait pods. When Tom anchored over one piece of bottom the cudas did their normal routine of schooling directly under the boat. We think they have learned over the years that boats mean fish, and as soon as you bring a good fish up from the bottom, they attack with a vengeance! Tom caught three and a half legal red snapper, and as he put it, more half an amberjack than he could count. He also brought two nice cobia back, and broke off several fish that he could not turn more than likely big grouper.
Had he bottom fished all day, he would have done even better. But he was looking for kings and he found them.
If you were thinking about visiting the coast to take a shot at some offshore fishing, now is the time. The fish are on and the water is warm. Get out there and get some while you can!