Kingfish Tournament Starts in Clearwater, Florida, April 12, 2012

Are you looking to get your fish on for the week of April 12, 2012? If so, you may want to consider heading to Clearwater, Florida. The Rotary Club of Clearwater is holding its Annual Kingfish Tournament. It promises to deliver a lot of excitement and an eye-popping prize purse. Here are the details:

Kingfish Tournament Basics

The festivities are slated to start the evening of April 12, 2012 with a kingfish tournament gala and pre-tournament meeting at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater. The kingfish tournament itself will take place on April 14, 2012. The tournament boats are expected to launch at 7 a.m., that day, from either Johns Pass or Clearwater Pass. Weigh-in is anticipated to take place between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. at the Clearwater Harbor Marina at Coachman Park. Up for grabs is a 1st place prize purse of $5,000. Now that will buy a lot of bait! The cost of tournament entry is $250 per boat prior to April 12, 2012. Those that opt to enter the kingfish tournament at the last minute will need to pay $25 more. A kingfish tournament entry form may be found on the Rotary Club of Clearwater's website.

There are several things that I find favorable with the kingfish tournament other than the fishing. For starters, the proceeds raised during the event go towards assorted charities. It also offers a $1,000 consolation prize to the person in last place. In my book, both of those things are really nice gestures. Furthermore, children are allowed to participate in the tournament as well.

About the Venue

The Clearwater Harbor Marina at Coachman Park offers visiting anglers over 100 boat slips that range in size from 30 to 50 feet. Overnight slip rates for out-of-town visitors are $10.50 per foot and include the use of onsite amenities. Onsite amenities include the use of select utilities, a bathhouse, laundry room and around the clock security. Due to the popularity of the kingfish tournament, advance reservations are strongly suggested. A plethora of dining and shopping options are available within walking distance of the marina.

Fishing Suggestions

Air temperatures in Clearwater have been in the 80s during the day and in the 60s in the evenings. At present, the weather forecast for the day of the kingfish tournament is favorable. A waning crescent moon, clear conditions and air temperatures in the mid 80s are expected. If you plan on targeting surface kingfish, I'd recommend that you consider using double baits. A few good options to consider are cigar minnows and double pogies. In my experience, the kingfish seem to find them irresistible. When using double baits, I like to hook the bigger of the two bait fish to the primary nose hook. It seems to help keep the terminal tackle from getting fouled up. Dead baiting with frozen ribbon fish and Spanish sardines is another option. When it comes to live bait, I'd recommend that you think about goggle eyes, blue runners and jumbo shrimp. Targeting live-bait schools is also a superlative idea.

Killeen Gonzalez enjoys fishing with her family and has traveled extensively.

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Updated Friday, Apr 6, 2012