Warm Waters Bring Blackfin Tuna and Kingfish

March 12, 2020

As the weather and waters get warmer, blackfin tuna and kingfish fishing in Sarasota, FL becomes easier to do closer to shore. In 2019, these species started showing up close to the shore in April, delighting fishers along the Florida coast. In fact, April is a popular month for kingfish fishing tournaments, where fish as big as 50 pounds have been caught.

The warmer water brings bait schools closer to the shore, and where there is bait, kingfish and blackfin tuna follow. That means that people are able to catch these varieties fairly close to the shore in relatively shallow water.

Blackfin tuna

Blackfin tuna fishing in Sarasota, FL has two peak seasons: April through July and September through November. In the spring, the fish are moving up north past the Florida coasts, making it the perfect time to catch them as they migrate.

Typically, blackfin tuna is best caught with live chumming (sardines are readily available and make great blackfin bait). Early morning and the evening hours are the best time to take a charter out for blackfin, and if you catch them, they are sushi-grade.

Blackfin tend to be strong fighters, so you can expect a longer fight time as they attempt to swim downward to escape. We recommend light wire circle hooks and 30-pound leaders for the best chance of success.


Kingfish is actually the largest variety of mackerel in Florida, commonly reaching 20 pounds—but they can grow up to six feet long and 100 pounds. They can be found almost year-round in Florida, since the water doesn’t get too much colder than 68 degrees Fahrenheit, their preferred temperature.

In the spring, kingfish also start migrating north, much like the blackfin tuna, and migrate back in the fall months. Kingfish prefer to swim near shipwrecks, reefs and oil rigs, because that’s where the bait fish (sardines and herring) that they prey upon live. Another way to find them is to look for birds diving and catching fish on the surface—it’s likely that the kingfish corralled the bait fish near the surface and are picking them off from underneath.

Kingfish can be caught by trolling, live baiting and deep jigging, so the equipment you use will depend on which method you’re employing. You’ll need high line capacity, since kingfish like to swim away after striking. At least 500 feet of line is preferable.

Whatever you catch, try eating it grilled or poached—it’s a slightly oily fish that makes a nice alternative to salmon.

Kingfish and blackfin tuna fishing trips in Sarasota, FL

Ready for blackfin tuna and kingfish fishing in Sarasota, FL? There’s no better way to experience the warm water fishing season than with a Charter Boat Shark trip. We’ll take you out on one of our twin 41-foot fishing boats, equipped with state-of-the-art fish-finding equipment and everything you’ll need to score your big catch. We have 60 years of experience and employ Coast Guard-licensed captains to ensure your safety. Call us today to schedule your fishing trip.

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