My Greatest Day Of King Fishing

My greatest day of king fishing was June 29, 2019 with Dawson Jordan, Ryan Stephens, and Captained by Richard Calhoun. We launched in Murrell’s Inlet early in the morning and Richard slowed the boat to pray for a safe trip when we reached the jetties. We put our hats back on and Richard hit the gas.

The sun was on the horizon and the clear, calm water appeared green. We quickly found menhaden schooling and filled our bait tanks with a single throw of the cast net. We turned course offshore and rode for 13 miles until the water turned blue. Richard pulled the throttle back and said, “Let’s go fishing!” Ryan, Dawson, and I each took a rod and reached into the bait tank for the fattest, liveliest menhaden we could find and rigged them onto the hooks. A single circle hook goes through their nostrils and a treble hook “stinger” goes in their back in case a king were to strike mid fish and miss the head.
We fed back the lines and set drag on each rod. We were trolling with four lines on top water staggered in various distances from behind the prop wash to 50 yards. A fifth line was being pulled on the down rigger, 25 feet deep. Each menhaden had a different colored rig because certain colors excite the fish more depending on the day. It didn’t take long to get the first hit. A rod bent and I picked it up to fight the fish. I knew it wasn’t big and we did not have to clear the other lines to reel it in. I landed the king which was barely a keeper, measuring 26″ but we still released it in hopes to fill the cooler with larger fish. “What color did it bite?,” Ryan shouted. “Green,” I said as I rigged on a new menhaden and fed it back to the right distance.
Another rod bowed over and started peeling drag. Ryan jumped to grab the rod and said, “This ones a monster! Definitely a king!”
Richard replied, “You’re the only person I know who can identify a fish before you see it.”
He was right, you never know what is going to bite in the ocean but we knew it was big. Dawson and I cleared the lines on the deck and stowed baits. Richard was at the helm and turned hard to port to persue the fish. Ryan was gaining line on it and we could see the sunlight reflecting off of it like a mirror in the deep blue. “He’s a monster!,” Ryan shouted, and at the glimpse of our boat, the king took off for a second run. Ryan held on and the boat followed.
The king was finally under the boat again and in its exhaustion, was as stiff as a board. It moved in a circular motion on its side and Dawson reached down with the gaff. “Wait,” Richard said, “Let his circle one more time.” The king mackerel circled the second time under us and Dawson gaffed it and pulled it aboard. The king weighed 34 pounds and we happily dropped it in the cooler. It was time to start over, so Ryan and I set lines and Dawson wet a brush and cleaned up the blood.
We were cruising and enjoying some snacks when Ryan drops everything. “There’s a cobia following us!,” he said. We could see a cobia following our menhaden, right on their tail but not eating it. Ryan had the menhaded with the green skirt and held the rod to make the bait look more enticing. The cobia never struck and Ryan said, “We need another color!” I reeled in a menhaden with a pink skirt and fed it back to the cobia who dove from the green, and the pink skirt disappeared.
The cobia was on and when I applied pressure, he burst to the surface thrashing and splashing, getting tangled in all of our lines. I landed the cobia which measured 34″.
“That should be a keeper,” Ryan said. “Are you sure?.” Richard asked. We all thought 34” was a good size but we weren’t sure because we don’t catch a lot of cobia. We decided to play it safe and release the cobia, which hurt because they are such good table fare, but we later verified that they have to be 36” to keep.
The boats were pressing in around us and it was getting hard to troll with the pressure so we reeled in our lines and rode an additional 7 miles offshore to be 20 miles out and we were the only boat in sight. We stopped when we reached a spot marked on Richard’s GPS and we put out our lines.
It only took a moment and a rod stared screaming. Dawson took the rod and yelled, “It’s a big one!”
Ryan and I started to reel in lines and clear the deck when another rod started screaming, “ZZzzzzzz!,” Ryan said, “I got it!” and Richard said, “Oh no you don’t.” Richard took the rod and I was driving the boat. Ryan continued clearing the deck while Dawson and Richard both fought their kings, each going a different direction. Richard’s king seemed to be the larger of the two so we turned to port in pursuit, while Dawson held on, trying to buy himself time and hoping he doesn’t run out of line. We gained on Richard’s king, who made a second run, peeling more line, then circling under the boat until Ryan gaffed it. With a 38 pound king flopping on the deck, we turned for Dawson’s king. Dawson was gaining line and we could see it under water like a mirror. Ryan gaffed Dawson’s king and the crew went wild when we landed the 35 pound king. We opened the cooler to get Ryan’s king out and took a picture holding our giant trio of kings, then stuffed the cooler and kept fishing. Other boats were gathering around us and we didn’t get another bite for an hour, so we reeled in the lines, freed the bait, and rode home.
The ride home was a celebration and there was more than enough meat for everyone to take home. We had a great time on the water and worked together through the chaos of the day to land a great haul. With the warm weather of Spring approaching, I can’t stop thinking of days like this one and hoping to be out there again.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email