King Mackerel

The king mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla) is a migratory species of Mackerel that lives its entire life in the open waters of the western Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. It is an important species to both the commercial and recreational fishing industries.

King Mackerel

King Mackerel are long, slender fish with bluish-green backs and silvery sides.  They have large forked tails and a lateral line that starts high and dips sharply downward at the second dorsal fin.  Unlike the Spanish Mackerel, they do not have a black area (sometimes called a flag) on the first dorsal fin.

King mackerel are among the most sought-after game fish throughout their range from North Carolina to Texas. King mackerel are known throughout the sportfishing world for their blistering runs. They are taken mostly by trolling, using various live and dead bait fish, spoons, jigs and other artificial.

Typically when using live bait, two hooks are tied to a strong metal leader. The first may be a treble or single and is hooked through the live bait’s nose and/or mouth. The second hook (treble hook) is placed through the top of the fish’s back or allowed to swing free.  

Live baits are usually trolled at a very slow speed to allow the bait to swim and look natural. When trolling for kings using this method, it is important to make sure the bait fish are swimming properly. Popular fish for live bait trolling include menhaden, threadfin herring, cigar minnows, and blue runners.

Typical tackle when trolling for them includes a conventional or spinning reel capable of holding 400 yards (370 m) of 20 lb (9 kg) test monofilament and a 7 foot (2.1 m), 20 pound (9 kg) class rod.  A fast action rod is preferred by most live bait king mackerel anglers.

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