Light tackle, and patience to play the fish out are often the key to catching Kingfish. Kingfish have a semi soft mouth, which is deceiving, due to the fact that it is filled with razor sharp teeth. So sharp in fact, that they even cut through wire sometimes, but if you be patient, and play out the fish, you will most likely have much better success. Your conventional tackle should be spooled with 12 to 30 pound-test line. A rod with a flexible tip can be forgiving when Kingfish strikes, because they are traveling fast. You see, Kingfish or Slimeys, as we affectionately call, them are Slashers. This being the case, you must prepare your rigs for their vicious attack. Multiple hooks are more often than not the answer whether you use live bait, dead bait or artificial.
Kings like a variety of different live baits including pilchards, cigar minnows, Speedo’s, pinfish, blue runners and goggle eyes. All of these baits can be rigged with the dreaded Ha-Ha rig. A single hook with a treble hook trailer. There are a number of variations to this rig, all have to be adjusted to Slimeys vision and ferocity of their attack. So keep your wire light, number three to number five wire is sufficient.
Kingfish also love dead bait slow trolling, drifting, or jigging all are popular methods. Just a tip - each ballyhoo should be butterflied or de-boned. This should be numero uno on the bait-preparation list for all three types of dead-bait fishing. Also dead cigar minnows plain or with jig heads can be deadly for all three methods. Dont forget that ballyhoo and cigar minnow fillets drifted in a chum slick can also produce.
Artificials, like feather jigs are very popular with white, yellow, and chartreuse, being very popular colors here in the Florida Keys. They can be from one ounce up to six ounces, and tipped with shrimp ballyhoo or cigar minnow. Also the long slender cigar type plugs or crank baits thrown in a feeding school can be a "hang on to your rod experience."
Good luck and go get 'em!
Captain Ron Brack.
Latest regulations on Kingfish size limits can be found HERE.
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