Hi Mr. Johnson,
I like to start trolling an assortment of hardware. I would troll from one point - like the Cleawater hard bottom - to any one of the local wrecks reefs, etc. I watch my sounder for shows of bait or fish. If I see something on the sounder I work it thoroughly. Also, on the way out I would keep my eyes open for bait pods, mackerel and other fish feeding frenzy. Birds diving or any water activity.
If I see these type of things, I head over to the outside edges of it and troll those edges. Very rarely do I run through the center of the activity, only as a last ditch effort in case the kingfish are hanging well below the activity. I would troll 3 rigs with different lures, with different colors at different depths.
Here is a example:
- Lure 1 - Port side of vessel would be a Manns Stretch 25 color Silver/Blue -- The Manns Stretch would be deep in about 20 feet of water
- Lure 2 - Starboard side of vessel would be a Kingfish spoon color chrome/copper -- The Kingfish Spoon in about 10 feet of water on a downrigger, planner or trolling weight.
- Lure 3 - Center stern in the prop wash - Bomber Shallow Diver (Green and white my personal favorite, but other colors work for sure) -- The Bomber would be in or about the surface to 2 feet under in my prop wash.
I would start trolling these at about 5 knots and go up if I don't get strikes.
If I get a strike or catch a kingfish. I mark the spot and then anchor up and start chumming with cut up threadfins and scaled sardines (which I would catch in my cast net before I head out). I cut them up with cutting shears. Fresh cut whitebaits are bloody, oily and shiny. Kingfish can not resist. While I am doing this I put out an assortment of flat lines on stinger rigs and long shank hooks.
One live threadfin free lined stinger rig, a bluerunner freelined stinger rig and a pinfish or scaled sardine on a balloon with a long shank hook.
You can also use a frozen chum block instead of the live cut whitebait or both. Both is the best!!
If I get no strikes or fish I continue to troll to the wreck, reef, etc... When I get to the wreck/reef I troll a Z pattern from one end of the wreck/reef to the other until I get a kingfish. If not, I troll the opposite Z pattern back, so now I covered the whole wreck/reef. If they are there you will get a strike. If you get a strike or a fish I anchor up again.
If I troll live bait it is completely different. I troll blue runners, mullet, ladyfish and legal size Spanish mackerel. The Spanish mackerel is by far the producer of the biggest kings. When trolling live bait you are at 2 knots or less. More like less, you actually bump troll. You pop your boat in gear and then out just barley creeping along. If you don't you can drown your bait and make the presentation look unreal.
You can also drift with the live bait. Use your engine down and off to control the drift. Again, if I hookup, I anchor. I love catching kingfish on light tackle with single long shank hooks with scaled sardines as my bait of choice. I use about 40 lb fluorocarbon and go up to 60 if I keep getting cut off. I use wire as my last resort. My wire and my stinger rigs consist of a 1/0 single hook for the front and a #4 treble hook for the back hook. I use coffee colored #4 single strand wire and the haywire twist to attach the hooks, swivels. I make my own rigs and have them at all different lengths for the size of my bait. You can buy the rigs pre-made at any one of the local tackle shops.
Remember: Kingfish bite well on top at daybreak, then go down in the water column some as the sun gets up high. The biggest error I see most anglers make in kingfish fishing is they have their drags way too tight. Good luck and let us know how you do.