September has arrived offshore Fort Pierce and the bigger kingfish will be arriving on their journey to the south. Kingfish are a great fish to target for some good rod bending action and blistering runs. These fish will be found from just off the beach around the bait schools to the 80- to 90-foot depths in our Treasure Coast waters.
There are many methods to catching kingfish. These fish will hit live trolled baits as well as shiny trolled lures and big lipped diving lures. The preferred method of most kingfish anglers is live bait trolling. Kingfish will eat a large variety of live baits such as greenies, pilchards, sardines and big blue runners, which can all be found in our local waters. After obtaining some live baits, go to your favorite area with structure or ledges or find the bait schools off the beach and slow troll the live bait around the edges.
In the morning look for bait schools of pilchards and greenies off the beach. For the first couple of hours in the morning, kingfish, big and small, lurk around these schools of bait. As the day goes on, most of the kingfish will move to deeper waters. Anywhere out to 80 feet will be a good area to find kingfish.
Kingfish are very toothy fish so you will want to have your baits rigged with a wire leader and a “stinger rig.” For a stinger rig, you will attach your main hook in the nose of your live bait with another short piece of wire from the main hook to a treble hook in the mid-section or near the tail of your bait. Kingfish hardly ever eat the whole bait on the first strike so two hooks on the bait will increase your chances for a hookup. This being said, a light drag is essential because a lot of times a kingfish will get foul hooked and a light drag with steady pressure will keep from pulling the hook out.
If you are running out of live bait, don’t have live bait or would prefer a faster trolling speed, kingfish will hit shiny spoons like the drone spoon and big lipped lures. I would still recommend using a wire leader on lures. As with any lure or live bait trolling for kingfish, cover the water column from the surface to down deep by using a down rigger, if available, or a planer.
Big kingfish put up a great fight, are a great trophy and are tasty smoked or smoked and made into fish smack. Smaller kingfish put up a good fight but are the better size for grilling or broiling. If you look online you can find a lot of different recipes for various ways of cooking this fish.
Bend your rods and catch them up!