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Friday, May 25, 2018
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Kingfish of a lifetime perfect birthday gift

GO FISHING is a look at the area fishing scene through the eyes of local charter boat captains and fishing guides. Today: Frank Sargeant.

Anglers fishing the King of the Beach kingfish/mackerel tournament out of Madeira Beach had tough going last weekend with the nasty weather, and the top fish caught by captain Chad Bixler went only 39.98 pounds, a nice fish but no lunker in the kingfish world.

But Monday morning after the bad weather passed, captain Dave Mistretta and angler Diane Marteliz of Tampa — celebrating her birthday with a trip her husband bought for her — hooked the kingfish of a lifetime. Fishing in about 60 feet of water with live blue runners, Mistretta put her on a 66.8-pound kingfish, one of the largest ever reported in Bay area waters. No kingfish that large had been weighed in a King of the Beach Tournament, much less aboard the Jaws Too; www.jawstoo.com.

Harry Thomas’ Yellowbird took top honors in the Spanish mackerel division with a whopper 6.36-pound Spanish. Bottom line is that both big kings and big Spanish are here, and it will be prime-time fishing so long as the bait stays close.

Captain Ray Markham reports good action inside on trout, keeper reds and snook, and said this bite should get even better with the full moon tides this week. Markham likes DOA CAL jigs in 1⁄4- to 1⁄8-ounce sizes, trailing 4 to 5 inch shad tails in pearl or white; www.captainraymarkham.com.

Markham also said cobia are hanging on near-shore channel markers and range markers inside Tampa and Sarasota bays. Big feather jigs, a jumbo DOA Shrimp, or crab or eel imitations are good offerings, but a frisky pinfish or live crab will rarely be turned down. He said some tripletails are still on the stone crab buoys and will hit a DOA Shrimp or TerrorEyz or a small live shrimp free-lined to them. Tarpon are reported around the Skyway, Markham said.

This is also the beginning of the frenetic tarpon season at Boca Grande, with dozens and sometimes hundreds of boats jamming the big pass to pursue the thousands of tarpon that mass there into early July.

The snook season on the west coast is now closed through August, but catch and release action will be excellent around outside passes from Anclote Key into the Everglades as the fish gather to spawn.

Tribune correspondent Frank Sargeant can be reached at [email protected]

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