Few Fish Can Match Fight of King Mackerel
By Capt. Joe Palermo // December 15, 2013
Pelican Flats and 8A Reef Hot areas
BREVARD COUNTY • PORT CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – As winter rapidly approaches and cold fronts start pushing south, offshore anglers can look forward to excellent rod-bending action for several different types of species.
Dolphin, Amberjack, Grouper, Cobia, Sailfish and several other species will all satisfy our offshore hunger. However, the most targeted and productive species will most likely be the King Mackerel.
There are very few fish along the East Coast of Florida that can match the fight and tenacity of the King Mackerel. Perhaps this is the reason Kings top the list when it comes to big-money tournaments throughout the South.
Their size, strength, speed and acrobatics when “skyrocketing” bait makes Kings one of the most sought-after species for both charters and self sustained anglers.
Kings range drastically in size. On a normal day they can range anywhere from 6 pounds to 45 pounds with an average of 10 pounds to 15 pounds. The regulation size for King Mackerel is 24 inches to the fork. However, most of our population will be well over the minimum.
King Mackerel are normally found around bottom structure, ledges, wrecks and any hard bottom that holds bait in 25 -100 feet of water.
During the winter and spring months, Pelican Flats and 8A Reef should produce good numbers.
The most productive technique for these fish is live bait trolling on the surface or with downriggers. Typically, we use pogies, commonly known as menhaden, but live sardines, cigar minnows, blue runners or tinker mackerel work great as well.
The key is to troll the baits fast enough to cover ground, but slow enough to swim naturally with the boat. This technique is deadly and will often trigger multiple hookups at the same time.
As a charter captain, there is nothing more satisfying than presenting a bait on the surface, watching the fish ambush it by “skyrocketing” 6 feet in the air as my customer grabs the rod, and the fish that screams 50 – 100 yards off of a reel in just a few seconds.
Kings are also very desirable for the table if properly handled and prepared. Unfortunately, these fish have a reputation of being oily and strong tasting. However, with the proper care and preparation, this fish will quickly reach the top of your favorites.