John Richardson of Oaktown, Ind., shows off a large mangrove snapper he caught recently near sunrise on a fishing trip out of John’s Pass.
Kingfish and Spanish mackerel have made their spring arrival to our area. Over the next couple of months they will be reliable targets.
With each passing cold front that’s quickly followed by warming weather, we should see the numbers of these highly migratory fish increase.
Being prepared for the arrival of kingfish will give you the confidence needed to hopefully cash in on this great gamefish. Since kingfish can often weigh 20 pounds or more, chances are the rods and reels needed to catch them have been sitting unused somewhere in your collection. Rod guides should be checked for nicks that could weaken and eventually cut the line. Reels should be re-spooled and drags greased if needed.
Live bait kingfish rigs typically consist of 18 inches of 38-pound coffee colored piano wire for the lead. Connect that to a 2/0 live bait hook and a short piece of wire (approximately 4 inches long) with a size 6 treble hook for a trailer. Make several of these rigs, as they will work great for the majority of baitfish that you’ll be using to catch the kingfish. These baits include threadfin herring, Spanish sardines, blue runners, cigar minnows and big pilchards. Also be sure to make some larger rigs in case that’s all that’s available for you that day. These larger rigs can have a couple of trailer hooks in order to cover the bait and help to ensure that the fish will get hooked.
A variety of artificial lures will catch kingfish, from shallow diving plugs to silver and gold spoons. Most of them are best trolled behind a planer, which will allow the lure to be trolled deeper. Planers come in four sizes and the number on the planer depicts the depth it will dive. For example, a number 3 planer dives 30 feet when trolled with approximately 100 feet of line out. Note, this is the most common planer to be used around the many artificial reefs as well as the shipping channel, two great areas to target kingfish in the spring.