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  • What a Silver King Fish?

    Captain Kathy Brown of Miss Judy Charters is holding up a nice king mackerel, which would definitely classify as a silver king!

    This is a true story about the great unknown ďSilver King.Ē Donít go running to your identification book for this one. My Father would come home from fishing and he would tell me that he had caught a silver king. It was normal for him to make that statement. As I got older, and we started fishing deeper, I finally realized what exactly he was talking about. Itís no great secret about how the fish can change their skin color to adapt to their environment. Flounder, grouper, and black fish are among the many that can camouflage themselves for protection so that they can sneak up on their intended prey easily. I donít know if camouflage is the right word, but itís definitely part of their makeup. The fishís skin color changes with the color of the water. The lighter the water the lighter the skin and it reverses with darker water. Therefore, a silver king is a mackerel that had just migrated into darker water, but hadnít had time to change its skin color.

    Over the years, I have come to understand what all these skin color changes might mean, at least to a fisherman, who doesnít have a degree in marine biology. It boils down to what I have come to call certain fish; they are either residents or non-resident of the area from which they are caught. My theory not only applies to mackerel it also applies to many other fish. Take the silver king for instance that daddy always caught. He fished mainly in an area that we now consider very green water. This area was a live bottom that was known as the Black Fish Banks. The Black Fish Banks was located to the east about 10 miles off of Tybee Island. In the early 50ís this spot held everything from Black Sea bass to grouper. In fact the first in person red snapper I ever caught was in this area. Top fish, such as Bonita, cobia, and mackerel, (both king and Spanish) could be caught there from early spring to late fall. Now that I look back, the black fish banks were certainly a very active area even though it wasnít that large.

    While bottom fishing we would always throw out a top line that we would bait with a live fish. I donít remember cigar minnows until the early 70ís. Iím not saying that they werenít available; we didnít have the knowledge of them. At any rate, this top line would always produce, if you had the right kind of bait. Not all-small baitfish would work. The most favorite was the pinfish, which is the shape of ruby red lips. We also used a cigar fish better known by us offshore fisherman as a reef runner. During this time there were so many bottom fish fighting to get at our bottom hooks it was hard to catch a small fish. In fact you were considered lucky when you did catch one.

    Once you had live bait, you were in the fishing driver seat, because you knew you were going to get a hit. We used a single 6/0 hook with a short wire leader. I donít remember using stingers or two hook trailers until the 70ís. Since live bait wells were not part of the offshore fishing scene at this point, you immediately hooked you bait up and put it out.

    After hooking up your prize fish of the day, which usually was a very large king mackerel, your customers got the fight of their life. Daddy would get the old wooden gaff that was always re-enforced with black tape. The tape would either be around the end, which was holding the gaff hook in place or on the handle area holding the long crack together. You havenít lived until you have a semi-cracked wooden gaff pinch your hand. After you get over that minute of pain and the blood blister appears, you then go get the black tape, which is now consider marine covering for your gaff. Now that we are back to the fish, Daddy would gaff it, but only after it made several passes by the boat. He never liked to gaff a green fish. A green fish was a fish that still had a lot of energy left making them hard to gaff. I used to think it was because the fish was so strong, but my father was a big man. As time has passed, I now have figured it out. If he hadnít waited until the kings got a little tried the wooden gaff probably would have broke. Upon landing this monster, Daddy would immediately throw it in the big wooden cooler. This is when he would determine whether or not this fish was a sliver king. As you already probably have figured out, if the fishís skin was sliver he was labeled a ďSilver King.Ē However, if the skin was dark green, it was just another king mackerel, which wouldnít get as much applause from Captain Daddy. Boy, I sure did have a great fishing childhood!

    Thanks for reading! Captain Judy