A few years ago I tied two kayaks on the bow of my boat and took their owners out to try and catch large grouper. It turned into a failure for a variety of reasons. Today, kayak fishermen are doing much better.
Russ Caipen has been using a kayak to get off the shorelines and catch larger fish. He was successful last week and landed a huge kingfish just off the beach. That fish hit, fought on the surface and towed him around for a while. Good thing those fish fight near the surface since a hard downward pull could be problematic.
As I write this, a group of kayakers recently came back from a Hubbard's Marine offshore trip. They loaded their "yaks" onboard and were hauled offshore to 100 feet of water. A smaller boat tagged along to rescue anyone having trouble. These guys landed a dozen or so 30- to 35-inch amberjacks, which pull down like grouper. That could present a problem but dozens of jacks have been landed by kayak along with large mangrove snapper and giant sharks. The season is closed to fishing in June and July.
Many kayak and canoe people regularly fish along South Shore for snook, trout and redfish. It's possible to expand your horizons and actually catch giant offshore fish if you do it right.
Speaking of "doing it right," the South Shore Anglers just had an eventful charity tournament based out of Shell Point Marina. I saw the fish they brought in and enjoyed the great rapport Steve Hoffman, club president, had with all the fishermen. For local fishing fun and education, check out this group.
American red snapper are now legal in the Gulf of Mexico until July 27. Florida just extended its season in state waters until July 14. Get them while you can but remember, amberjack and grey triggerfish are now closed. Gag grouper doesn't open until July 1 so keep releasing those gags. GulfCouncil.org is a good source for keeping up with these changing regulations.
I found a good fishing application for my smartphone. It's called Fish Rules. It confirms your location and gives you up-to-date regulations on the fish you select along with limits, sizes and a picture of the fish. Everything seems to be updated and correct, so I recommend it.
Lots of improvements have been done at the Cockroach Bay launch site. The improvements were sorely needed. Check it out and see if it's a fit for you and your boat.
Now get out there and. catch 'em up!
Larry Malinoski, aka the FishHawk, is one of three Ruskin-based fishing guides and charter captains who share this column. He can be reached at (813) 469-7251 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Russ Caipen of St. Petersburg used a remote camera to record this large kingfish he recently caught from a small kayak just off the beach.