It Takes A Girl To Catch A Kingfish (by: Jacquelyn Kouns)
Kingfish. . . The game angler’s wet dream. His streamlined, bluish silver body shimmers and reflects all the colors of the sea as he methodically preys upon the anglers bait, expertly stalking it and awaiting his perfect moment to strike. His creator designed him with care, grace and an ultimately profound knowledge of physics. The kingfish is made for these Atlantic waters, a perfect ocean specimen. With razor sharp teeth and a lightening fast strike, he is quite the predator, this king of all the mackerel. His only flaw is the jagged lateral scar that cuts from gill to tail along each side of his otherwise perfect body and looks as though he came out on the wrong end of a switchblade knife encounter. Beware, the kingfish will seduce you in all of his glory.
My husband and his friend John soon learned they were powerless in resisting his temptations. . . Unfortunately, they also learned they were quite inept at capturing more than one of these magnificent creatures at any given time. And so begins my story of the girl (played by me above center) and the kingfish (played by the four dead fellows you see there).
I eventually grew weary of my husband Jay and his friend John’s quarterly fishing excursions. You see, off they would go at 6:00am only to return at 8:00pm either empty-handed and half-lit or with only one kingfish catch (and yes half-lit). If I couldn’t go fishing with them and was left to entertain myself while they had a great Saturday, I at least wanted to enjoy the benefits of what their fishing had reaped. The kingfish is not renowned as one of the better tasting saltwater occupants. It’s flesh has a grayish hue, the larger the catch the darker gray the meat is. However, if submerged in buttermilk then deep-fried, the kingfish can be quite a treat.
Finally, after yet another fruitless fishing experiment between Jay and John, I decided to taunt them into taking me on the next trek. I spent a few weeks bragging about my exceptional fishing ability. I repeatedly guaranteed them that without me their hopes of quarantining an abundance of kingfish would forever be doomed. In all reality, I knew nothing of king fishing. What I did know is this. . . One, there is a science to everything and Two, the boys could not accept that there is more to fishing than simple dumb luck. I was also certain that my constant gloating would assure me a spot on that boat as my husband is very competitive and can never refuse a challenge.
Follow me now on our little ocean adventure. Learn the science of king fishing, while being entertained. Then go out, catch one or perhaps four and you too will have a fish tale to tell.
We begin our day at 7:00am fully prepared. The cooler is filled to the brim with Budweiser and a few sandwiches. The bait holds are slowly thawing the pre-rigged frozen ballyhoo purchased from Walmart. We decide to submerge John’s 21 foot Seafox named Start Me Up from the Black Pearl boat launch in Fort Pierce, Florida. It takes John some time cautiously backing the truck and trailer down the slimy boat slip. Once Start Me Up is released from the trailer, John goes to park while Jay carefully drops the Evenrude motor halfway into the murky and extremely shallow water, turns on the ignition, then ties off at the dock. John and I hop on board. The guys inform me that we must travel about three quarters of a mile in a no wake zone due to shallow waters and manatee protection. It is going to take about an hour to get out to the inlet and into the ocean.
I really don’t mind the slow journey. As we get increasingly further from the Black Pearl, the water turns from murky brown to a pristine sea foam green casually spotted and marbleized here and there with hues of navy and deep amaranthine and is as flat as glass. The Garmin Fish Finder/GPS tells us that the water temperature is 86° . How I long to just jump in and bathe in it’s clear saltiness, but I must stay focused after all this is a story of king fishing. The air is thankfully a warm 88° and dry. I enjoy the view of the high-rises, restaurants and marinas that speckle the coastline. We soon engage in a wishful, yet enjoyable conversation about which of the overly lavish yachts and condos we are going to purchase when we either win the lottery or become famous. Before we know it the time passes and our beautiful glassy water sours into a dark one to two foot moderate chop. We are exiting the inlet and entering the ocean. Mother Kingfish keep an eye on your sons for this girl is coming to catch them.
The morning is still pleasant, but due to the chop the Seafox is rapidly bouncing up and down like a bobblehead on a dashboard. It’s only 8:30am, yet time to crack open the first beer. I do not endorse DWI boating, but I must admit alcohol helps you gain your sea legs quicker. We head south along the Hutchison Island coastline for approximately eight miles and catch an interesting view of the nuclear power plant. From here I am advised that we will navigate east, keeping a close eye on the Garmin, until we come to a shelf in which the water depth suddenly drops to 55 feet.
Two hours later and slightly buzzed, we reach our destination. John brings the boat to a halt while Jay retrieves the fishing rods from their holsters above the steering manifold. The rods are equipped with 50lb test camouflage monofilament line wrapped snuggly around Penn Senator 6.0 reels. I’m left in charge of unwinding the wire leaders attached to the ballyhoo, then securing the baits to the swivel clips at the end of each line. Once the rods are baited, Jay takes two rods and affixes each of them to the outriggers located at port and starboard. John takes the remaining two rods and sets them in the holders at the stern. The guys have definitely come with all of the logical equipment. I wonder what part of the science they are missing on their normal fishing endeavors.
We troll along with the bait in tow until lunch time, patiently awaiting a bite. Just as it begins to appear that the only thing we are going to catch today is tomorrow’s hangover, It Happens! One of the lines begins to buzz and the rod bends like it has been hit by a freight train instead of a fish. Jay jumps to attention, determined to reel in the first catch. I can see that this is a monster fish by the way Jay is struggling, the muscles in his arms are so taught it looks as though the surrounding skin is going to give way. Moments later an impressive kingfish propels itself out of the water and. . . spit’s the hook, stripping the bait clean and laughing at us upon his decent back into the ocean blue. Although the first kingfish has outsmarted us, we each gain a new confidence that today’s escapade will be promising.
John insists that we circle the area, convinced that we have hit a school. This is when I discover the piece of science or should I say technology that guys have been ignoring all along. . .
John simply turns the Seafox around. Start Me Up wanders aimlessly across the briny deep. Every wave looks like the last and there are no markers to tell us where we were when the bait got chomped. All the while, a perfectly good GPS is given the cold shoulder. I ask John why he is not checking the Garmin to determine what path we have taken so far and why we are we fishing like cavemen with this piece of technology aboard. He bows his head, averts his eyes from me, then sheepishly admits that he has no idea how to use this expensive piece of fishing equipment. I tell him that the GPS is Windows based and is just like using his computer at home. To which he responds that his home computer is even more foreign to him than the Garmin. My husband is also technologically challenged. Fortunately, for the two, I am a bit of a computer geek.
After much debate with John, and many assurances that I will not break the equipment, I quickly fumble through the GPS’s screens and locate the tracker. I am promptly promoted to captain of the Seafox and begin shouting out directions. We soon come across the kingfish school and spend the next two hours accurately circling and reeling them in. The day is plentiful, we reeled in the four nice sized kingfish (pictured here), a few that were to small to keep and a rogue barracuda. It turns out the guys had missed a piece of the science and they did need a girl to show them the light after all.
The secret to catching this beautiful fish. . . Head out to where the water is 68° or warmer and 45 - 65 feet deep, take along some pre-rigged bait and know how to use the equipment you have purchased.
One more thing, check the weather report before you depart. Coming back to the inlet we were caught in a terrifying storm with swells eight to ten feet, but that’s another story for another day.
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