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Try This Out For Kingfish

Try This Out For Kingfish Try This Out For Kingfish
By Jim Hammond

Here is how you can live bait fish for your share of these fish and the equipment that, I CONSIDER A MUST to venture into the ocean.

Directional equipment: Some sort of direction finder, a GPS, Loran or GPS. To find your way around in the ocean and be able to find the wrecks you have to have some sort of machine that will show you where you are and where you are going. Since the U. S. Military has removed selective availability from their GPS signals, you can use a $99.00 hand held GPS to find your way around in the ocean.

Before you head to the ocean for the first time with your new GPS, test out it's ability to perform. Go into the river and save some waypoints such as channel markers. After you have saved these in your new machine, go several miles away from the stored waypoints and see if the unit will take you back to the marker. If you have plugged in the correct numbers in the machine and it will not take you back within 50 feet of the marker, then you need to take that one back and buy another style.

Now that you have your new unit and you are sure that it works, you will need to purchase some sort of map, like the Jacksonville Offshore Club Map. This map will have all of the coordinates for these reefs and it is a map with compass headings to and from the reefs. The reason that I like a map, as opposed to just a book with numbers in it, is, if your direction unit goes down you will be able to see where you are and you will have a compass heading back to the inlet.

You must have a compass. One mounted to the boat, not a hand held model.

Lets spend some more of that money that you have worked all week to earn. You are now going to need some sort of fish finder. Don't be cheap and buy a $99 unit, most of them have such poor resolution that they are good for only one thing, showing the depth. I have had a Lowrance X-15 for about a year and this is a great unit. It is water proof and Jim proof, shows a great picture, has GPS capability with plotting and navigation features.

Safety equipment: Okay, we have our new directional unit, our map that list all of the placements, we are almost ready, or are we. Now for the safety equipment. Be sure that your bilge pump works, or better yet, install a second, much larger pump, wired to a separate switch. Next to your boat being on fire, sinking is the next worse thing that can happen to you.

Have you checked your fire extinguisher lately? Take this out of the hole or compartment where it has been stored and check it, or better yet go to S.A.F.E. located at 5863 W. Beaver St. in Jacksonville or call them at 695-4200 and maybe they will come to your boat and give it a safety inspection. These people have been in the fire extinguisher business for a long time and they are experts in putting out fires. Having your family in the boat that is on fire and you do not have the proper fire extinguisher to put out the fire is just plain dumb. Most of the time a quality extinguisher can be purchased for under $100.00, this is a small price to pay for the protection that it will provide. Call the guys at S.A.F.E. and have them fix you up, protect your family and yourself, don't be cheap, when it comes to being able to put out a fire on your boat. It is not like you can run outdoors and watch it burn from your yard, you will have to get in the water, with the sharks and it's a long swim back to the dock.

I am sure that you have all of your life jackets, throw cushion, flares and so on but if you are not sure, check them.

Here is a pretty nice kingfish that could not resist a live bait. From left to right, Houston Stephens, Paul Clark.

Rods and reels: Now that you have the boat ready, lets talk about the rods, reels, line and rigs. I like a very soft tip rod about 7 to 8 feet in length, a reel that has level wind with a 3.8 to 1 or better retrieval rate and will hold at least 300 yards of 20 pound test monofilament. Here is one of the rigs that I use. Shakespeare Ugly Stik Tiger Rod BWC 2200 7' ML with a Shakespeare Tidewater TW 30 LA Reel, TW 50 LA Reel or the new Tidewater TWMA30L. All of these reels will hold at least 300 yards of 20 pound test and the rods will be some of the finest that you have ever fished.

Terminal tackle: Live bait rigs consist of 20 to 30 pound coffee colored wire, a small barrel swivel, a couple of Daichii 2 to 4x, #4 treble hooks and if you like, some sort of skirt. If you have not been able to tie your own rigs, then you can purchase them from several tackle shops here locally such as Rick's Bait and Tackle on Beach Blvd. or Thrifty Bait and Tackle on Cassat Ave. Even if you might think you can tie one of these and you are a novice, go and buy one or two so you can see exactly how there are tied.

Catching bait: You can spend all day running up and down the beach trying to find poggies or you can purchase some of the new Daiichi Blood Red Sabiki rigs and go to the area that you intend on fishing and jig up all that you want. Catching the bait on Sabiki rigs is very simple once you have found the school. Tie on the rig to a rod and reel, like a big spinning outfit, send it down to the bottom and start moving the rig in an up and down jigging motion. When a fish gets on, wind the rig back to the boat and in the live well with him and back down for more. Bring more that one Daiichi Sabiki rig, as big fish will sometimes eat the small fish before you get him up and you will lose the entire rig. Once you have about 50 to 100 baits you are ready to King fish.

Keeping Your Bait Alive: Live wells are somthing that a lot of anglers take for granted, until all of thier bait is dead. I have for been for years using a Keep Alive system in all of the boats that I have owned or rigged for other people. This is by far the best live well system on the market and can be purchased as a stand alone system or an add on to your current live well. You can go to and find out about these great systems.

Trolling: Get the boat going about 1/2 to 1 mile per hour and start sending the baits out behind the boat. If you have down riggers, send at least one down on each of these to different depths. I like one down about 3/4 of the way to the bottom and the other about 1/3 of the way to the bottom. The other three or four baits should be staggered at different distances behind the boat.

If the baits are being drug on their sides then you are going too fast. They need to be swimming. You can slow the boat by dragging a 5 gallon bucket or spending some more money and purchasing a sea anchor.

Fish On: When you get a fish on, it is a good idea to get all of the other baits OUT OF THE WATER. Until you get a crew that works like a team, this is the best way to insure that the fish on, makes it's way to the box. While fighting the fish remember, the hooks are not very big and do not get a good bite in the fishes mouth, so be gentle with the amount of drag that you apply to the reel. You do not want to lose your fish because your drag was too tight. Keep steady pressure on the fish as you angle him. When he gets along side of the boat, put the gaff under the fish and with one motion come up with the gaff and in the boat with the fish.

Safety: This can be a dangerous way to fish if you are careless. The hooks are very sharp and will penetrate your flesh very easily, the fish have razor sharp teeth and watch the gaff as you swing it around the boat. When you gaff a fish, go straight to the box with him, don't let him flop around on the floor. After you put the fish in the box shut the lid and take the rig off of the fishing line. DO NOT try to get your rig out of his mouth while he is still alive. You will end up with a hook in you or you will get bit. Wait until he is dead, then the rig will come out easily.

Afternoon thunderstorms: If you have never been in the ocean when an afternoon thunder storm comes through, then good for you. For those of us that have, we can appreciate being back to the dock after the encounter with this dangerous situation. My rule of thumb for small boats or novice offshore anglers is: Get an early start and be back to the dock by 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon. If you follow this rule, your chances of having to deal with one of these violent squalls will be greatly reduced. If by chance you do get caught in one of these white knuckle rides, keep the boat pointed into the waves and DO NOT panic. If you have a seaworthy boat and you are a good skipper, you should be able to ride it out. Remember, the ocean can be a great deal of fun or she can swallow you up like you never existed. If you are going to venture into the ocean, do it with respect for her.

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