Dewey Stringer called and wanted me to go offshore with him the coming Saturday to check out his new boat; a twenty-three foot, deep vee, cuddy cabin, with a two hundred horsepower, outboard motor. Without being coerced, I accepted the invitation!
Our plan was to head east out of the jetties to a new rig, five miles past the Heald Banks and fish in about eighty feet of water. Dewey said he had heard that some big kingfish were in the area. He was right!
His new boat ran fine for the one-hour trip to the new rig. The rig was about a hundred foot square and trolling around it, we found the water to be between 80 and 90 foot deep. We were the only boat so we tied up and the current drifted the boat and our cigar minnow baits in an easterly direction.
We caught several average size kings, fifteen to twenty pounds, and then, I had a hard, jolting strike and the fish took off to my left, north. The run was powerful, more than any other king I’d hooked before and soon the fish has “spooled” my twenty pound line, and I’m down to three turns and could see where the end was tied to the spool.
Dewey untied us from the rig and as he started the engine, we were drifting east and the fish was heading north. He headed toward the fish, allowing me to get back some line and the fish then headed west, circling the rig. I knew he was going to “cut me off” on the rig so Dewey sped up and the fish headed north back toward us. As we say in Texas, “This was a goat rodeo!”
I’m thinking, this is some fish, who knows what variety? Dewey says, “He’s been on for twenty minutes. What do you think it is?” I had no idea, but finally I started working the big fish back slowly toward the boat. Noticing we’d drifted almost a mile from the rig, I “rasseled” the big fish up to the boat. “What a king!” we both exclaimed!
Dewey only had one gaff and no flying gaff, so we decided that he would gaff it toward its head and I’ll, while holding the new rod high to keep the line tight, grab it at the junction of its body and tail. We coordinated our efforts; hauled the fish into the boat, applied the coup-de-grace with a short billy club, and heaved it into Dewey’s big cooler. Except the head and tail extended outside of the sixty, inch cooler!
Exclaiming, “This fish is longer than I am. It must weigh sixty-five or seventy-five pounds.” Dewey confirmed my comments and then, trying to fit it into the cooler, and not thinking, we cut off the king’s tail and head and tossed them overboard. Now it fitted!
After the excitement, as we relaxed, our estimate was that the king, did indeed, weigh between sixty-five and seventy-five pounds, maybe a new State record! We had no camera and took no pictures, however, we ate it! Kings, with their firm meat, are very tasty fried, broiled, boiled in crab boil, grilled or cooked in a fish soup/stew. To remove the fishy taste, all traces of the bloodline, on each side of the fish, must be removed!
This fish may have been the third state record that I have eaten. That may be a state record too!