Catching Kingfish and Tarpon: The Balloon Theory
We were going to call this article BalloonKingFish, but thought better. But this article is about kingfish. More specifically, it's about using a cool product from one of our supporters called Balloon Fisher King.
Its Kingfish (and Tarpon) time in the Gulf of Mexico, and knowing how schools of these predators behave combined with a package of the company's clips and environmentally friendly floats will not only put you near the fish, but teach you a secret that will pull the biggest fish out of the water. Kingfish are tasty if done right, but you're going to release 98% of the fish you catch. You might as well have to lift the big ones.
How Kingfish Schools Behave
This behavior isn't unique to Kingfish; you'll find that if you watch closely (or from the sky, better yet) most open-water predators move in large flat oval shapes. Schooling fish swimming close together – mostly against the tides – pull a lot of oxygen-rich water through their gill plates. The action of the fish in the water even increases the amount of available oxygen. Fish swimming inside that school can breathe easier and deeper than they could if the lozenge-shaped shape the schools adopt was wider. We could talk a lot about fish structure, oxygen content in the water, how keeping a hooked tuna out of the school makes it far more likely you'll get to actually land it – and much more, but let's get back to the shape of schooling kingfish, jack crevalle, bluefish, ladyfish, Spanish mackerel, and some schools of (young, mostly) tuna.
We talk a lot about the same subjects. One of them is where the fish are. Open-water predators have mouths that point forward; their lower jaw is the same length as their upper jaw. They're meant to look forward and they do not hang around docks, oyster bars, sea walls. You will catch them anywhere, for sure (especially Spanish or ladyfish), but the feeding schools are out in open water. How do you find them? Birds. Predators are chasing bait schools, bait schools run away to the surface, where they splash around as the beasts below eat them. Above them are another creature the bait are not happy to see: birds. When you see birds diving on open water there are predators underneath them (usually; there are no rules). Look for birds. Look for stuff splashing around on the surface, and if you have good electronics, look underneath you in the water columns, but always look for birds. They're the best visual bet.
If you see birds diving on the surface and splashing right now, it's either Spanish mackerel or their big cousins the King Mackerel or Kingfish. Before you see them feeding, they were moving around in pods, with scouts ahead and slightly outside the school. The schooling actually creates higher oxygen levels in the lozenge-shaped congregation of predators then in the surrounding oceans.
The Shape of the Schools
Let's think about this in stages. Stage One is a school of hungry Kingfish moving around with little to do. Even sex isn't a regular thing, which mating rituals and practices (call them what you will, but fish do something in October differently than they do in July or March). What's regular is the feed. Some fish will kill stuff just for the heck of it and empty the water of baitfish (bluefish come to mind, and schooled jacks, too). Generally though, they are looking for food.
The way they look for it is interesting. It is going to have an impact on those balloon clips we are talking about (we wrote a story about them once, so we're not gonna spend too much time explaining how they work; this article is to teach you a way they will help you pull the biggest fish out of the water where the schools are found).
Once they find bait, they begin to surround it. Some fish stay circling the outside of the school – but still in the lozenge.
Once the school surrounds the bait schools they begin to feed. Some stay outside to contain the school of baitfish while others run inside the tight ball of bait feeding. When they're done they take the role of guardian to keep the ball tight, and the process continues until the fish aren't hungry. Like we said, some fish like bluefish will kill everything. They will actually eat, vomit, eat again, puke again, and kill all the baits. It is almost like a frenzy that they cannot stop until there's nothing left to kill. If they're chewing, puking, and chewing again, it's not like they're loading up with protein in between chews.
So where does the Balloon Fisher King float-rig come in? Easy.
First: Watch for birds up high, looking down. Often, they're looking for the predators underneath them to find bait and drive it up. Try getting up wind, putting out a balloon, and letting it drift towards the spot directly underneath the high fliers. It takes some practice, but you can often drift and keep live baits far out while tossing spoons and floating free-lined baits closer to your deck.
Second: This is the good one. When those schools have those small baits balled up and are eating away, try floating a balloon outside the school. Not where the birds are feeding on the chomped and fleeing baits. Try floating it where the fish that are feeding on the Kingfish in the school are feeding. They're feeding on the schools of smaller (then them) fish that drove the bait schools into tight balls. Float a balloon outside a feeding school of 12 pound kings and you might well find a 40-lb. fish on the other end of a screaming reel.
Good Products with Good Purpose from Balloon Fisher King
We're very supportive of this product and with good reason. Of course we're a business. Of course people pay us to work with us and to gain from the trust we've gotten from the many thousands of people that read articles like this.
Using a bobber – one made out of the great farm-grown rubber works floating live baits in front of roving schools of ocean predators, and it works even better floating live baits on the outside of the feeding schools you can find if you find diving birds. The fish are big beasts eating the schoolies. Float a balloon and you'll see why we thought of calling the article BalloonFisherKingFish. It will work for you.
Tarpon Fishing With Balloons
We fish for tarpon in the Gulf of Mexico. In early spring the fish seem to arrive from SEO'ed water, and when they do they begin an eternal dance that they dance every single year and have danced since the dawn of fishing time. The dance is called a daisy chain. And fishing with balloons on the beaches when this mating activity begins will make catching the exciting silver kings much easier.
When the fish arrive, they swim the beaches. When they do, they form pods of between a few fish and a dozen or even more. They seem to follow each other for a short distance, and then begin to swim in loops. They circle and circle, mating while they do. Then a few fish break out of the circle, and the rest follow.
The first fish to break the circle and form the line again will hit a bait. While fish will sometimes grab a bait while they are in the circle, the first fish out will eat more frequently then they will inside the daisy circle. Put your boat in the right place and deploy the balloon so the wind will blow that balloon into the place where the fish come out of that circle. Do this, and the chances of a strike, fight, landing and release go way up. You can cast baits there, you can throw a popping cork as far as you can, but a balloon will quietly drift into that line of tarpon and just sit there waiting.
Introducing the Night Fisher for Night Balloon Fishing
Balloon Fisher King has introduced Night Fisher, a first-of-its-kind fishing tackle item for nighttime balloon fishing. Night Fisher provides an all-in-one kit that includes balloon clips that attach and remove a balloon to a fishing line in just seconds and provides adjustable, precise, bait-depth control, along with glow sticks and bright colored balloons for improved bait spotting and strike monitoring when fishing at night or during early morning hours.
Many anglers fish at night when certain species feed more actively, so the bite can significantly improve utilizing live or dead bait suspension at desired depths during night or pre-dawn hours. Anglers can now add Night Fisher to their arsenal when night fishing for saltwater fish species such as shark, swordfish, tuna, tarpon, striped bass and snook, along with freshwater species like catfish, largemouth bass or striper and hybrid bass.Night Fisher is available in 2 new Pro Pack sizes. The Pro Pack with 11" balloons includes 5 balloon clips, ten (10) 11" balloons and ten (10) 3" glow sticks. The Pro Pack with 5" balloons includes 5 balloon clips, 10 5" balloons and 10 1.5" glow sticks. Night Fisher is also available in 11" and 5" Refill Packs which include 10 balloons and 10 glow sticks. The 5" balloons are recommended for bait size 2 lbs. and under, while the 11" balloons are recommended for bait size 2 lbs. and up.
The Balloon Clips can be used for freshwater and saltwater and are rated for a line diameter of 20-lb. monofilament and higher or 30 lb. braided line and higher. Balloon Fisher King also uses only high quality, 100% natural latex, biodegradable balloons. Once activated, the glow sticks will last from 6 to 8 hours. The glow stick tube ingredients are also non-toxic.
About Balloon Fisher King
Balloon Fisher King and Night Fisher products are manufactured and marketed by MZL Creations, Inc. which is dedicated to creating environmentally friendly products that provide convenience and efficiency to fishing with balloons. The Balloon Fisher King Balloon Clip is patent-pending. Balloon Fisher King is 100% Made in the USA. For more information please visit the Balloon Fisher King Website.