Hit the short rigs for Sabine kings
Fishing for king mackerel can be big-time fun from 10 to 35 miles off the Sabine jetties. From now until the end of October, they can be caught all day long around baitfish, shrimp boats and the rigs. Probably the most exciting way to catch king mackerel is with a topwater plug or by fishing jigs and spoons around shrimp boats.
A “hot” king mackerel won’t even hesitate to blast a topwater lure. Two of the best are a 5-inch Super Spook and a Bomber Long A. When fishing either lure, I’ll be using a 7-foot All Star bait-casting rod that can handle line in the 20 to 30 pound class. My favorite reel is an Ambassadeur 7000. This particular rod-and-reel combo is perfect for casting lures for kings and fishing live baits. You can fill the reels up with 30-pound test Silver Thread and you’re good to go. When fishing lures for kings, I’ll rig ‘em up with a two-foot length of 40 to 50 pound test wire leader. The lure end of the leader is connected to a 50 to 60 pound test black snap swivel. The line end is connected to a black barrel swivel.
The Super Spook I’m using now is the new 5-inch Zara Spook XT. It’s built extra tough with two 3X treble hooks and heavy-duty saltwater grade hook hangers and split rings. In short, it’s built to catch kings without falling apart. Top producing colors include mackerel, sardine and silver mullet.
The Bomber Magnum Long A is a 7-inch lure with a pair of beefed up 4/0 hooks. Like the Spook XT, it’s built to handle toothy fish like a king mackerel. Top colors are bonito, silver/blue back, chrome/black back and baby striper.
The Super Spook has a completely different action than the Long A. It’ll move from left to right in a steady walk-the-dog retrieve. Conversely, the Long A is a shallow-running lipped lure. It can be trolled or popped on the surface. The popping retrieve creates lots of action and will draw some serious blowups.
Most of the time, the best topwater action for kings will be anywhere from a half mile to five miles off the Sabine jetties. This is the time of year when huge schools of pogies will be rafted up within sight of the McFaddin Beach surf. That’s when you want to get out the topwater plugs and work them close to and over the menhaden.
Another option is to troll lures around schools of baitfish. From now through the end of September, finding schools of menhaden and shad is easy anywhere east and west of the Sabine jetties. Some of the best lures for trolling up kings are the metal-lipped divers that are anywhere from 7 to 10 inches long. One of the best is the Bomber A-Salt HD Minnow. It’s built to withstand the toothy mouths of kings and is built with a pair of tough treble hooks and a stainless-steel lip. The Bomber HD Minnow can be trolled from 4 to 5 knots with 25-pound test line to depths of 20 to 25 feet.
Trolling around the oil and gas production platforms is where you will find some magnum-sized kings. The near-shore rigs in 20 to 30 feet of water hold lots of small kings. That’s been my experience while fishing the short rigs anywhere from 12 to 18 miles off the Sabine jetties. The rigs out at about 32 miles usually hold heavier kings.
Kings like to hang out under and around anchored shrimp boats. The best action will be off the boats that are anchored anywhere from 10 to 25 miles out. Shrimpers usually drag their nets all night, then anchor up during daylight hours. Once they anchor or tie off to a rig (usually at dawn) they will finish culling the night’s catch. That’s when the kings will move in for some easy pickings. And that’s when they will be all over jigs. One of my favorite for kings is the Bomber twin tail shrimp and jig combo. It’s four inches long and weighs 3 ounces. You can troll them, or cast them out and reel them in on a yo-yo retrieve. Best colors are chartreuse, red/white tail, glow and white/pink tail.
A 1/2 to 1 ounce silver spoon is deadly on kings. When deck hands are shoveling out their bycatch, the kings, along with jacks and bonito, will be swarming on the surface. Pitch a jig or spoon into the melee and you’ll get an instant hook-up.