Tips for Smoker Kingfish
By Capt. Blake Gardner
Large kingfish, thirty pounders and up, are called smokers. They earned this name from the screaming sound of the reel while the line is taking off at top speeds and literally smoking the drag. A lot of research and preparation is required before you ever hit the water going after that big smoker. The fishing in front of storms has always proven to be extremely productive. If you don’t mind getting wet, the days before a slow moving, rain making storm can be some of the best fishing you could ever hope to find. The fish are already wet and don’t seem to mind a bit! This is where the experts in the fishing industry can benefit you greatly. They know the conditions and have an understanding of the storm patterns and how the different species of fish move and thrive in these conditions. They understand the vessel and captain limitations to keep the excursion a safe one.
Here are a few tips that will help you hook into a big one:
The right bait is key. Large baits such as blue runner, Spanish mackerel, ribbonfish, or XL pigfish work best. It is very difficult to grab a forty pound plus kingfish’s attention with normal size bait. Big baits equal big fish.
Choose a light wire (thirty-forty pound), small 4x strong #4 or #6 treble hooks and very small barrel swivels. 300-400 yards of twenty-thirty pound mono with six to eight feet of thirty pound fluorocarbon is the norm for the big kings. Smoker sized kingfish rarely eat a bait without having a very close look at it first. If the tackle is too heavy, bites will go down tremendously or you may not get them at all. The more stealthy and natural the presentation, the more you will find yourself atop the leader board.
Structure, structure, structure. Also, watch for temperature breaks and bait congregation. There are a lot of public numbers in the Big Bend area that are proven smoker kingfish hangouts so don’t rule those spots out just because there may be a couple of other boats fishing around you.
An absolute essential item if targeting smokers. For starters, set one at one-third of the depth and one at two-thirds of the depth and then adjust as a bite pattern is observed. Also, watch your bottom machine for bait pods and adjust your downriggers accordingly.
A common mistake many anglers make is trolling too fast. Idle speed is all you need. You want to be going as slow as possible while still being able to maintain your heading. Pulling baits too fast will result in washed out (dead) baits and zero hook-ups. Pay attention to the trolling heading, depth, line setbacks (distance from the boat) and downrigger depths on your hookups and keep the same patterns for additional hookups.
Big smoker kingfish can be one of the most exciting fish to target in the Gulf. They can easily skyrocket 10 feet out of the water with a three pound blue runner hanging out of both sides of their razor sharp jaws. They are also capable of making blistering 300-yard runs that are sure to get your blood pumping like none other! Follow these tips on your next outing and your hookups with these speedy giants will go up tremendously.
Captain Blake Gardner
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