Light line remember? Light line and leaders draw more strikes, are easier to maneuver and generally perform better than heavy ocean gear. Given the light line and small hooks, the drags on the Penn reels are set rather light. The idea is to allow light line and drag to prevent the small treble hooks from pulling on a big fish. Many very large kingfish have been lost because too much pressure was applied via the drag or the rod action.
Large kings take a long time to fight to the boat. The light drag often means chasing the fish down with the boat to recoup line more often than not several times. This is where the center console boats come into play. The angler fighting the fish will move to the bow of the boat, allowing the captain to maneuver the boat wherever the kingfish runs. Many times a boat in the distance can be seen with a lone figure standing on the bow. Hooked up, is the term that follows that sighting!
You may notice that multiple people are aboard a kingfish tournament boat. Each person has a job, and they act as a team. The captain drives and maneuvers the boat, never actually fighting a fish. One person is usually in charge of the bait either catching it or placing it. In our case, Tim was the bait person, a master at it! One person is usually in charge of fighting the fish, and another in charge of gaffing the fish. On a four man team, this gives everyone a responsibility. If any one of them fails, the team fails.
As soon as a fish strikes a bait, everyone moves into high gear and performs a specific job. The fighter, in our case Billy, takes the rod and heads to the bow of the boat. The captain, Jim, turns the boat, slowly at first, to put the fish on the bow. As that takes place, the other two team members are quickly cranking in the other lines and winding up the downriggers to clear the water.
At that point, depending on the size of the fish, it becomes a battle from the bow of the boat, following the hooked fish and waiting for him to tire. Remember, thats twenty pound line and small treble hooks you cannot horse a hooked kingfish.
Once at the boat, the fish is gaffed and quickly placed in a specially designed ice bag. These ice bags help prevent weight loss by keeping the fish cold and wet. Big fish can loose as much as a pound or more before being weighed if they are not handled properly.
We did catch one small kingfish on this trip too small for any tournament purpose. But as a team, the Sea-N-Double was able to hone their skills and eliminate water where they did not find kingfish. Their plan for tournament day was to head far offshore, perhaps fifty miles, to deeper water. The winds were forecast to lay down some from their twenty knots, allowing them to make that run in less than three hours.
The Sea-N-Double was set for tournament day. Barring any change in wind forecast they stood a good chance of weighing a good fish. What I learned on this trip was some pretty basic information that you can use to enter a kingfish tournament on your own.
Ive seen kingfish tournaments won in boats as small as fifteen feet in length. Two years ago, a seventeen foot Carolina Skiff with an entire family aboard won a major tournament. You can do the same in good weather. Just follow these basic tips!