Indian Rocks, Winds 5-10, water temps lower 70's, bait - threads, blue runners, pinfish, 1 mid/upper 20's Mack - perhaps a bit more.
A 4:15 wake up call would get me out of bed in time to check work (IT), pass out some general directions, slam down some eggs, load up, and get from Lithia to Indian Rocks around 6:15. Mental note - the Gandy is a longer haul than Howard Franklin. I pulled in at 6:15 and found some kayaks unloading at the agreed upon launch site. Some quick intros, some quick recon and we were on the preped to hit the water at sun up. A fellow angler gave me a brief layout of the land and where the hard bottom was. The SUP was of particular interest as I've been eyeballing these newer devices and was interested to see how it fished in the conditions.
Being a bear of little mind I figured I would observe and do as the Romans do, but with the earlier info and seeing the crab traps just outside the swim buoys I had a simple game plan. Stay near the crab pots, troll, and see who was hooking up and how. As we paddled out a fellow angler with a fish finder/gps noted in the first 25-50 yards that we were in bait. I spent no more than 10 minutes pulling in threadfins and blue runners and with about 8 in the bucket, I pushed out passed the swim buoys and messed around for about 5-10 minutes just getting situated. Of particular note was the absence of a rod holder in the front and being blown around a bit more than I wanted. I dropped anchor but quickly saw the huge benefits of peddle power being able to keep you stable without too much work. Regardless I was seeing a variety of lines going off with many folks pulling in what appeared to be smaller sharks.
This shark decided to head my way - hence the closer photo.
I settled into my game plan of sit, fish, observe, move. Eventually I saw that the bait was busting down the beach about 1/4 mile between a variety of crab pots and so I moved south. After about 20 min off my starboard side I heard a fellow angler calling out on the radio "I'm on". I watched him being towed and you could see he was a) using big gear, b) probably glad he had it as he was moving out pretty quickly.
Off the port I saw the organizer of the trip peddling pretty hard to catch up to him for photos and assistance. Another angler pulled in as well. With 2 folks there I figured things were well under control and having another photographer would just be too much. I kept my distance but squeezed off a couple shots (mental note - offshore fishing is wetter than inshore - clean the lens before each shot).
For the record the King weighed in at 31 pounds.
I wasn't getting too much action and was about to switch to from wire mono, but opted instead to cut off the stinger rig and swivel and tie directly to the leader. Sometimes less is more. Eventually I managed to get on a medium sized mack and not having a cooler that I traded out for a photo.
I towed the mack on the stringer for a bit, but frankly I wasn't too keen on that - I had visions of the men in grey showing up boatside, and given my propensities with them (another set of stories for another day) I put the stringer on a quick release Velcro tie. It wasn't exactly a beast and the Cabo 50 made quick work of him but at least the skunk was off the boat. However, the anti-reverse - well...on it's own it decided to reverse. Fortunately it was only about 5 turns so it wasn't a mess. This rig will be off for repair/maintenance - I like the 50, but I've got a 60 in the bullpen itching to be testing out on the Silver King.
At noon I and a variety of other anglers called it a day. Yeah...more water on the lens.
Talking with several of the King vets I gained a bunch of insight on terrain, rigging, equipment and in general good knowledge. Overall a very good day; the only downside would be how I felt somewhat vulnerable in the kayak - not to mother nature - but to powerboaters who insist on heading straight at you. My favorite was the pontoon boat who could not have been 10 yards off the buoys; at 100 yards I could not see a head looking over the helm so I started waving my makeshift flag. Rather than changing course they must have figured I was in distress and decided it would be good for me to see their large wake.
Perhaps they hailed from Dade County and wanted to meet up with a fellow Banana Republican. Or perhaps they were just newbies or a variety of other choice adjectives...
On a final note several people thought I was nuts to go near offshore fishing for Kings in a kayak. I'm not exactly sure why they feel that way; with a variety of people out there and proper safety precautions I didn't feel any more uncomfortable than when I go out in the stinkpot solo. Now, going solo nearshore in a kayak - I'm not so sure I would do that. Mainly because of the powerboaters. I told my wife - it's like biking, you're more likely to get hit solo than in a group.
Regardless a great intro to near offshore fishing for sure. Looking for some poon action in the kayak and I've got the sit-on-top ready to go.