Menhaden Oil


Chumming is another very important aspect when it comes to catching kingfish. There are many ways to chum and a lot of different types of chum. A kingfish can't bite what it can't see. That's why establishing a scent trail for kings to follow plays such a key role in attracting them up to your baits. Sometimes, chumming must stimulate slumberous fish; other times, it simply redirects feeding interest your way. Chumming styles vary with personal preference, but these proven methods will put you in the hunt.


Possibly the most offensive substance in the chumming industry is menhaden or "pogy" oils. This seems to grab the kings attention and brings them up to your baits. Standard dispersion method is through an IV-style dripper bag filled with oil and set for a drop about every 5 to 10 seconds. Other spreading methods include hanging an oiled-soaked sponge off the stern, spraying directly onto the water with a garden mister and scooping dry dog food laden with oil.


Frozen Chum Blocks

They look like bricks and smell like something died under them, but chum blocks are a must-have for the majority of kingfish anglers. Quality varies by producer, but high-end chum blocks contain a measured blend of fish bodies, with added doses of fat, blood, and fish oils. In a pinch, the poor mans chum block can be made at home by mixing together some dry and moist cat food with dry oats and menhaden oil. There are many of chum blocks on the market and you can pick up some at your local tackle stores. Whatever the ingredients, hang a frozen chum block in a mesh bag to to a mid-ship cleat. The block should hang just below the water's surface, so wave action washes away melting chum bits to form a visible and odoriferous trail.

Live Chumming

 As I stated earlier in this article it is essential to get enough bait to fish for the day. With this comes extra bait for what I like to call live chumming. Live chumming is an awesome way to control the kingfish bite when fishing around other eager anglers and tournament competitors. First put out your chum and your baits, then start live chumming. Toss whatever live bait you have overboard and toward your hooked baits. Best live chum baits: threadfin herring, greenies, sardines, speedo's, pilchards, tinker mackerel, and goggle-eyes. I toss a few livies very couple of minutes until I get the kingfish "sky-rocketing" all around our boat! There is nothing cooler then to watch a skying king right close to your boat, or the eye-boggling on lookers of the surrounding fisherman. This technique is sweet and will produce the bite with a quickness at times.


Chumming Tactical Tips

When it comes down to chumming there is no option if you want to catch an abundance and quality sized kingfish;



A little creativity and ingenuity will maximize your efforts to stimulate a kingfish bite. For starters, you can spread chopped baitfish and freshly ground chum a little farther from your boat by tossing it from a homemade launcher made from a mop handle with a 2-liter plastic bottle attached to the tip. Cut off the bottle's bottom, load the chum, and give it a two handed heave. (Live baits can be tossed like this as well).


When anchor fishing you can cover different depths by staggering your chum line. Put one bag on top tied to a side cleat, as well as tieing another chum bag onto the anchor line about 20 feet from the chain. Then tie a third chum bag onto a down rigger ball or weight and drop it down half way (this works well when slow trolling for kingfish too). You can also use the wire mesh chum cages they sell at your local tackle shops.

Then there's always my favorite technique; chum bombing! That's a Captain Laddie Martin special right out of SheepsHead bay according to his ex-first mate and my fishing partner, Howie Tuman. Howie fished with the legend Captain Laddie Martin aboard the "ROCKET II" from 1959-1965. On every fishing trip that Howie goes offshore with me, he always reminds me how Captain Laddie would scream out...




"Bombing Them" is a make-it or break-it tactic used by my crew at the end of the fishing day. When it's coming down to the wire and desperation has set in you have to do something, even if it's wrong! Intended to stimulate a sudden burst of feeding, chum bombs are commonly deployed by clock watching tournament fisherman as a last minute strategy, but if you have enough chum there's no rule that says you can't start off your day fishing "bombing them".


One final consideration: With steady chumming and target bombing, don't waste your time and effort trolling or moving out of the area that you just saturated with chum. If you work hard to establish a good chum slick, but just make one presentation with your baits, yours is a largely wasted effort. Rather, make broad circles or figure-8's to pull your baits through your chum line for maximum exposure in the seeded water. If your drifting, there's nothing wrong with moving back up into your chum line, because the kings might be farther back working in your already established slick.


Good luck with these king fish catching tactics.

Bent rods and sreamin' drags!

Use Live Bait

Fishing for King Mackerel

Well, I have been fishing for kings for many years now and I have tried numerous different baits and techniques to catch those "smokers".

I'll first discuss live-baiting:


I have found that live cigar minnows, mullet, Spanish sardines, pogies, menhaden, greenies, bluerunners, goggle-eyes, tinker mackerel, and pinfish seem to all work if your in search of catching big kings. As many old timers say, "When the baits at home, look for the kings".

Obviously, when it comes to live baiting, you have to use what you can catch. I have slow trolled live goggle-eye through a school of kingfish and didn't even get a knockdown, meanwhile all the other boats around us are hooking using smaller baits like greenies or sardines. So my advise to you is to get an assortment of both live and dead baits and try them all.

Productive offshore structures for these baitfish are the livebottom ledges in water over 60 feet. You can sometimes see large schools of cigar minnows or Spanish sardines schooling and dimpling the surface over these ledges. Just as often, however, the baitfish will hold deep just off the bottom or suspend in mid-depths over the live bottom. A sensitive depth recorder can locate these schools for you. Sabiki rigs have become popular and do an excellent job catching almost all species of baitfish.

Pier Rat Tip: Bring extra sabiki's because toothy critters like barracudas may cut you off on your way up to the boat with a stringer full of bait.



Dead drifting baits work well too. My all time favorite king mackerel bait is a rigged dead cutlassfish, also known as ribbonfish or silver eels. These baits are deadly to catching the bigger kings. It's like tossing a piece of candy to a small child, when that bait hits the depth that the kings are cruising get ready because your about to get bent! These can be caught from piers with shrimp or bought at your favorite offshore tackle store. These eels are nasty looking with razor sharp pointed teeth but they make great kingfish baits. I take a case of them with me when I'm fishing in the Dry Tortugas on the South Florida FishFinder. We always catch the smoker kings on them. I either drift them down with a small weighted jig head, or I slow troll them in tournaments using a downrigger.

We also like to fish dead sardines. I rig them on double or triple hook rigs, each hook threaded through the others eye. We get more bites using monofilament leader (80-100 pound test) but you can't let the king swallow the bait or it's bye-bye kingfish! I drift them free baiting back in the chum slick or with a small lead weight to get them down. The kingfish when turned on can't seem to resist a nice tasty Spanish sardine.



Now when it comes to fishing for king mackerel your tackle choice is extremely important. I'll try to match the rod, reel, line test, hook, and wire to the size of the bait I'm fishing at that time. For example; the smaller the bait, the lighter the rod and reel, wire and of course the smaller the hook. Drag pressure is also very important when playing out a big kingfish. I've seen many a kingfish get right up to the boat, turn and burn, and the hooks pull due to the angler having too heavy a drag pressure. When it comes to big kingfish take it from the "Pier Rat"; kingfish, like many lean, slender fish, arn't fazed by side pressure, but you can tire them by pulling from above.

I usually fish a double hook rig in my live baits. Kingfish like to chop the bait in half, usually taking off the tail. For this I use a "ha-ha rig" (as it's called in the Florida Keys), a second hook dangling near the tail or hooked in the anal fin or underneath near the tail of the bait. If your fishing tournaments the second hook must be inserted somewhere in the bait for it to be a legal catch. Larger fish tend to engulf the bait in one explosive bite. I also sometimes use a "stinger rig", which is a treble hook in place of the second single hook. However, this is not legal in most offshore tournaments.


As for my brand name hooks, I like to use a circle type owner or gamagatzu. These hooks are deadly sharp and tend to set right in the corner of the kings mouth. When striking a kingfish I like to just lock over and let the rod tip do all the work. I've seen too many fisherman getting way too excited when they get the bite. They pull so hard they do what I call a "Hatteras hook set" and usually end up pulling the hook right out of the king. Also, a striking kingfish which isn't hooked on the first pass will usually bite off your live bait right behind the head. If you get a strike and don't connect, don't reel in. Instead, give your rodtip a couple of sharp twitches. In many cases the kingfish will strike again despite the mangled bait, and get hooked. Another technique I like to use is dropping back and allow the mutilated bait to drift down and possibly entice the king to come back and finish the job

In closing, when playing out a kingfish; remember to have your drag loose. Kingfish may put up a moderate fight until they see the boat! At this stage of the game, it's best to loosen the drag on your reel, or a burst of speed against so short of line may part the mono and break the line.