Game Fishing > Bottom Saltwater Fish types > Kingfish fishing

Kingfish fishing

Kingfish fishingThe kingfish is perhaps the gamest for its size of bottom feeders that inhabit salt water. All anglers have the the best opinion of it. Its gamy qualities, its beauty of color and form, as well as its excellent flavor, caused the loyal citizens of New York in Colonial days to call this species the kingfish.

In former times when they were much more abundant in New York Bay, the kingfish and small striped bass were the crowning glory of old-time anglers. The kingfish is also known as the hake on the coast of New Jersey and Delaware, as the tomcod on the coast of Connecticut, the barb, and black mullet in the Chesapeake, the sea mink in North Carolina, and sometimes also in the South as the whiting.

It appears quite early in the spring with the weakfish, and is found a good deal in company with it; like that fish it seems to prefer a light mixture of fresh water, as is shown by its keeping in the mouth of rivers and running farther up during the dry season. It takes the bait quite readily, though it is not caught in anything like the same number in a given time as the weakfish, thirty or forty at a single tide being considered a splendid catch for one boat.

They bite readily at hard or soft clams or small pieces of fish and are taken most successfully on the early flood tide. They may be captured on or near oyster beds, especially when the oysters are being taken up. Its mouth though small is hard and leathery, and when once hooked it is sure to be fast; however much it fights it rarely gets off.

In taking the bait they have a variety of ways in going for it, sometimes with just a nibble that is hardly felt; at others they rush at it with the greatest fury, racing off with long runs from right to left, sometimes going at a clipping pace right around the boat; in this way the gamy fighter keeps it up till safely landed, when the angler will be surprised at the determined resistance a fish of but two pounds can and does make.

Though I have never seen it, it is said at times to break water if the line is held taut, playing exactly like the small-mouth bass, with rushes to the bottom, and pulling and tugging in angry jerks. The proper tackle for so bold a fish is a light pliant rod and multiplying reel, a strong line of linen, measuring at least fifty yards, a swivel sinker with a three-foot leader. There should be two hooks, sprout or Aberdeen preferred, size No. 1 to 3.

The best bait is shedder crabs or sand worms; also shrimps, blood worms, and clams are effective. In August, the kingfish can be caught along the south side of Long Island, off the Jersey coast, at Atlantic City, Long Branch, and Barnegat Inlet. Farther South they are yet more numerous. In size, this fish varies from one to six pounds; the average being two.

In surf fishing, the best time is the first of the flood tide; in this situation, with plenty of room, the kingfish is seen at its best, swiftly swimming long distances near the bottom; after a very long run, it stops to jigger and shake, finally breaking water fifty to one hundred yards from the rod, if sufficient line is given it; and one will wonder after landing a fish which has taken half an hour to kill, that it weighs scarcely three pounds. The angler is sure of one point in his favor, for certainly no bottom-loving fish plays such a game for the angler's real delight. The cook, as well as the epicure, will be fully assured of another, that no fish that swims the sea makes a better dish.