The Spring Run

Winter was loosening its grip on the mid Georgia area, the dogwood trees were blooming, a sure sign of spring, and farther south, along the Florida coast, the fishing was warming up too! Stories of some fantastic catches had reached us all the way up in Atlanta and one of my friends, Jerry O’Neil, owned a condo in Destin, Florida and he invited me to bring my boat, a 18, footer, down and we’d try and get in on the early run of king mackerel.

We left Atlanta early in the morning and driving south we ran into spring just before we crossed under I-10 and everything really greened up the closer we got to Destin. We arrived, unloaded the truck at the condo and drove to the launch ramp. There we launched the boat, bought some bait, cigar minnows, and cruised out under the bridge, into the Gulf of Mexico. After about 2 miles, we put out 3 lines. Our baits were colored jigs, because these fish had teeth they were attached to wire leaders with good sized, hooks, with a cigar minnow threaded on to the hook. Our tackle was medium weight, rods, Ambasseduer 6000 reels, loaded with 20, pound line.

Trolling at 1,000 RPM’s, not over 30 minutes after we had started, simultaneously we had strikes. Each of us grabbed a rod, set to enjoy the kings first blazing run, but as the king struck Jerry’s bait, before it took off, it arced up out of the water. Kings jump like this occasionally, their eyes being above their mid line, they lay in wait for prey, looking up, many feet below the surface, then attack the bait with force on an upward angle and their momentum carries them above the surface in spectacular leaps, but once they have the bait, off they go!

Both fish, 12 pounders, quickly succumbed to the rods pressure, we gaffed and boxed them, rebaited and resumed trolling. Another strike, this time no acrobatics, just a long run, then a couple of short ones, then into the box. We caught 2 more kings all were smokers, not over 15 pounds and as the sun was going down, the wind, now cooler, started blowing a little harder. Our jackets felt good as we picked up the lines and headed back in.

Not a bad haul for just under 3 hours of fishing and once ashore, I cleaned the kings, filleting one and taking care to completely cut out the blood line. We cooked the fillets that night with crab boil and surprisingly they tasted like lobster. Jerry had never heard about balling kingfish so I showed him how and we ended up with 5 bags of kingfish balls.

We went to bed thinking that according to tomorrow’s weather forecast, Saturday would be a great day to fish, but, when we got up the next morning, we were greeted by winds howling over 20 and white caps stretching out to the horizon. Unfavorable conditions for an 18, foot boat, our fishing day was cut short, so we headed back north, but, at least, we caught some fish.