Tips For Your Next Bluewater Excursion
Like many Gulf of Mexico anglers, some of my earliest blue water memories are pursuing kingfish. They are prolific, aggressive and for me were the first species to literally empty an Ambassadeur 6000. They are undoubtedly a true king for light offshore fishing. Like most angling, the techniques and gear for pursuing kingfish have evolved dramatically since my early days. Although tethering a cigar minnow on two hooks and piano wire is still deadly effective, there are some other strategies that just might make your next kingfish expedition this summer a little more exciting.
Look to the top
There may be no more explosive or exciting strike on a topwater than when a kingfish comes out of the water with a large plug coming out of both sides of its mouth. For even the most-seasoned angler, it is a startling experience, and topwaters are commonly effective when kingfish are actively feeding over near-surface structure and behind culling shrimp boats. Although wind and wave conditions do not always make topwaters a first-pick bait, they should always be in the regular rotation. As you are selecting a topwater, think about big action and loud volume from that bait so it attracts a lot of surface attention. I prefer large chuggers in a natural bait patterns or in chrome and the same colors apply to large walking baits and floater/diver plugs. Remember, these baits can be effective throughout the day but can be particularly effective just after first light.
When the bite gets tricky and particularly later in the day, a natural bait like a large pinfish or ribbonfish tipped with mylar skirt (I like chartreuse) can be incredibly effective to get a elusive bite.
“I find a bright skirt in chartreuse or red and white can be very effective. Try to bring a variety of colors, and experiment and see what colors and depths they want,” said tournament veteran Dr. Greg Stunz. “Also, a small egg sinker hidden in the skirt in the front of the bait can make all the difference. When they are not in an all-out feed, getting your bait down a few feet can really matter in getting a bite.”
Don’t Get Too Chummy
Don’t go crazy with the amount of chum you put in the water. It can be very tempting to, but it can be an unnecessary attractant that can overload your fishing grounds with sharks. Kingfish are very responsive to chumming, and a small amount of fish scent can get them into a feeding frenzy when done around structure.
“Toss a few small chunks of sardines, or better yet, thaw your bait in a bucket with a little water, and dump some with drippings from the water. It’s mainly the scent we’re after,” said Stunz. “It won’t take long for kings to show up with double and triple hook-ups being common.”