The king mackerel is a slender, streamlined fish, slightly flattened
from side to side with a tapered head. Its color ranges from an iridescent
bluish green on its back to its silvery sides. Two dorsal fins can fold
back in to a groove to enhance speed, short pectoral fins on each side
just behind the head; pelvic fins below the pectorals and a row of small
finlets extend from the dorsal and anal fins to the tail. The lateral line
starts near the top of each gill drops sharply below the second dorsal fin
and ends near the tail.
The mackerels are true members of the tuna family and are Western
Atlantic species. Although the Kings donít have the endurance of the
tuna, they are unmatched for their speed and agility. They are found both
nearshore and offshore and are common form North Carolina to Brazil. They
have preference for water temperature above 20deg.C (68deg. F) and
salinity ranging from 32 to 36 ppt.
The King Mackerel is a schooling and migrating fish that spends the
winter months in south Florida and moves to more northerly waters in
spring / summer. The Gulf population is considered to be separate from the
Atlantic population. The separate populations are thought to mix in the
winter months from east central Florida southward past Key West.
Spawning occurs in mid-summer north of Miami in the Atlantic and the
northern area of the Gulf of Mexico.
King mackerel are constantly feeding carnivores that can attack with
high speed, powerful jaws and razor-like teeth. They feed on all and any
available food but favor jacks, sea trout, sardine like fishes,
ribbonfish, herring, shrimp and squid.
King mackerel are a highly sought after gamefish. They are a
challenging catch that puts up a spectacular fight by leaping and sky
rocketing out of the water. They are taken on hook and line gear with both
live or dead bait and artificial lures. They can be caught from shore or
pier, from a boat at anchor, drifting or trolling. Some of the baits used
are pogies, thread herring, Spanish sardine, ballyhoo, mullet, etc. Lures
that have shown to be productive are spoons, jigs and other flashy
sub-surface lures or large fish like plugs.
Fishing gear should be no less than 20-pound line and tackle. Higher rated
tackle may be recommended if you are targeting larger kings. Usually a heavier
wire or mono leader is required to survive those sharp teeth.