The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 28 - April 24, 2013

reel time

King has a passion for local waters

Reel time

Rusty chinnis | submitted
Harrison King holds a big trout he landed on a fly while
fishing Sarasota Bay.

One of the pleasures of fishing the Gulf coast is the opportunity to learn from the experience of guides that spends their days on local waters. There is no substitute for the knowledge they gain watching and understanding the habits of local gamefish through the vagaries of weather, tide cycles and seasons. Harrison King is one of those guides that have a passion for local waters and the fish that swim them.

King has been a Montana fly fishing guide since age19. Guiding is the only business he has ever known, and he loves experiencing the excitement of a client who is catching a fish, whether it’s a trout or a tarpon. He grew up fishing the Chesapeake Bay for rock fish (stripers) and red drum (redfish).

He was introduced to local waters when he first vacationed here with his family at age 6 by fishing the area with Captain Warren Girle. Later when he developed an interest in fly fishing he sought out Captain Rick Grassett as a mentor.

Although King can fish every style of tackle, his first love is fly fishing. Putting his fly anglers in position to see the fish they’re pursuing is paramount. According to King it’s another kind of fishing, much more challenging but ultimately more rewarding.

For fly fishing King’s 16-foot Ranger flats boat, with a draft of just over four inches is the perfect platform for hunting redfish, snook, trout and other species in shallow water. When he guides fly anglers, King advises his clients to use fly tackle ranging from seven to nine weight, preferring the lighter tackle when conditions allow, but recommending a move to the nine weight when the wind is up. He uses a lot of shrimp flies that he ties, but his favorite fly is the chartreuse Clouser because, he says, it will catch any fish in the bay.

While he enjoys guiding fly anglers, he also takes spin anglers into the same waters with artificial lures. When rigging spinning tackle, he uses light outfits spooled with 15-pound Power Pro braided line. His favorite artificial lure is a 3-inch Gulp Shrimp on a jig head. For both fly and spin fishing King has been using 20-pound fluorocarbon leaders (down from the traditional 30) because the water has been clear over the inshore flats and the fish have been spooky.

To fish bottom species over offshore reefs and wrecks or to take anglers tarpon fishing off area beaches from May through mid-July, King has a 26-foot Andros. With its high bow and deeper draft, the Andros remains steady in the sometimes choppier waters of the Gulf.

While King prefers artificial lures and flies, he does what it takes to put his clients on fish. The redfish have been hard to fool of late, so he has been chumming with live shiners whenever it’s necessary to get a bite. He has been catching lots of reds and snook over area flats and reports the fishing for big gator trout has been especially good.

In the nearshore Gulf, he has been running the crab trap lines, finding a few nice sized tripletail while being on the lookout for cobia, which he expects to show up at any time. Other offshore action has included Spanish and king mackerel just off the beaches and passes and great flounder fishing around nearshore reefs. King works with two local shops on Anna Maria Island and can be booked for a trip by calling either Anna Maria Island Outfitters (941-254-4996) or Keyes Marina.

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