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Red Tide, Baits and Smoker Kings

The Kingfish bite is red hot,  the 2018 Fall tournament season is upon us and we have a 600 pound gorilla in the room with us, right over there in the corner: Red Tide.

Red Tide has been the topic of particular interest and concern on Florida’s southeast, southwest and west coasts for the past couple of months.  Algae blooms have wreaked havoc with our fisheries, killing species indiscriminately (bait & sport alike) and stinking the joint up something fierce. People from all walks of life are engaged and focusing on the causes & solutions to addressing the scourge that is algae blooms.

Red Tide and The King of the Beach

As we approach the 2018 Fall King of the Beach, the most asked question is: How is Red Tide effecting the tournament? Well, the tournament is unaffected. There are no changes to dates, operating rules or regulations. The Captains meeting and team check-in is Thursday November 8th and it’s lines in, early Saturday November 10, 2018 with the weigh-in and awards scheduled for later that same day. See the King of the Beach tournament pages for all of the pertinent information.

As to the Red Tide, conditions (inshore, nearshore and offshore) in our area were improving into the past week. We’ve since heard reports of a moderate reversal and worsening of conditions to the south over the past few days. While the worst seems to be behind us, the situation is fluid with the bloom(s) ebbing and surging in unpredictable patterns. And, while we cannot predict with any certainty the conditions on tournament fishing day, we do have two cold fronts ahead of us over the next two weeks. With this, we are anticipating improving conditions as we approach tournament time. To stay current on Red Tide across Florida, check out the FWC Red Tide Status pages.

So, the 25th Annual Fall King of the Beach King Mackerel Tournament is a go. 500+ teams will be fishing. Lot’s and lots of cash and prizes will be awarded after the weigh-in.

Still, there is Red Tide. to consider. We’ve reached out to several local bright lights to offer you advise on how to get the right mindset and prep for the conditions you may encounter. Check out the King of the Beach Fishing Report from Captain Ryan Harrington for a real time update on what the conditions are (and have been) like and how you might best approach the King this year.

And, we have asked some of the leading bait gurus in the area, both artificial and frozen their thoughts on bait alternatives for Kingfish.  Here is what they recommend.

Top Frozen Baits for Tournament Fishing

The first tip Capt. Bobby Aylesworth of BAITMASTERS suggests, and this is of use all of the time, CHUM CHUM CHUM! So whether you are using live bait, dead bait or even artificial, chum attracts the fish.

Second suggestion is there are several frozen baits that troll well.  Ballyhoo, cigar minnows, large squid, split tail silver mullet and ribbonfish are the preferred types.  Rigging them with leader wire and treble hooks is easy. They hold up well at trolling speeds and they smell like food. BAITMASTERS offers pre-rigged ballyhoo and mullet for the novice at rigging these type of baits.

There are products to use in conjunction with dead baits helps attract and get the King and Spanish Mackerel eating.  Soak the dead baits in a bucket with some anise oil. Drip Baitmasters Menhaden oil over the transom with a dripper bag. Harden the baits with BAITMASTERS Brine Brew the best brining mixture on the market. Oh and always …..CHUM CHUM CHUM!

Catch Kingfish and beat red tide

Capt. Bobby did send me a picture of the Snook off the back of his dock and says there will be plenty of live bait around in November.

Top Artificial Baits for Tournament Fishing

We spoke with Capt. Eric Bachnik owner of Mirr-O-lure and asked him what he would use at the King of the Beach. Here are his top suggestions.

His first suggestion is a larger lipped deep diving plug. The Big Game Series Deep 25’+ 111MR Trolling lure, made by Mirr-O-lure is a fantastic choice. The natural color versions are best for King Mackerel.  Eric says that these are great for Wahoo and Tuna as well.  He recommends using a deep diver plug and a medium runner lure at the same time to cover all the water column depths.   His favorite one is the 113MR suggesting the natural colors again (18MAC & 24MAC).

Next suggestion is a planer and spoon combo.  Capt. Eric  likes the 3.5 Drone Spoon and #3 Planer.  Spoons perform better when attached to a planer, even a 10 to 12 ounce sinker can be used to keep the spoon deeper in the water.  Faster trolling speeds produce better results, 5-7 mph is optimal. Looking on how to rig a planer spoon combo – click here.

Lastly, if you are using frozen Ballyhoo, Capt Eric suggest using an Ilander Skirt with it.  It can hide the leader wire a bit and make the bait look bigger and more eye catching to a big King.

There you go. A host of winning strategies and tactics to work though the conditions of the day and come out a winner at the KING.

What are your special hacks & tactics for beating Red Tide winning the KING this Fall? Let us know. Tight lines, Captain.

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