An Angler's Guide to Catching Florida Kingfish
A Florida fishing expert shares his tips and tools for how to catch kingfish, also known as king mackerel.
By Peter Miller / Bass 2 Billfish
Well named, the kingfish is indeed one of the most regal fish in the sea.
Kingfish are in the mackerel family. They are a schooling and migrating fish that can be found off the coast of Florida during winter before heading into northern waters in the spring and summer. Kingfish prefer warmer temperatures usually within 68 to 84 degrees. Constantly feeding on whatever smaller fish cross their path, kings are particularly fond of eating sardines, herring, ribbon fish, jacks, shrimp and squid.
Though they typically weigh between five and 30 pounds, the Florida record for kingfish is 90 pounds. One of this attractive species’ most notable features is its mouthful of sharp, efficient teeth. Anglers would be well-advised to use heavier wire or mono leader to bring a large fish boatside successfully.
King mackerel are highly desirable as a game fish, coveted for their impressive leaps, spins and explosive runs. Voracious feeders, kingfish will hit live or dead baitfish as well as spoons, jigs and large fish plugs.
Kingfish can be found both inshore and offshore, and are often caught right off the beach or pier. They are well known for lurking along ridges and wrecks, stalking schools of smaller fish. Because they travel in schools, it is common for anglers to come upon a group of kingfish and encounter nonstop action with multiple hook-ups.
Kingfish over 20 pounds are commonly known as "smokers," while those around five to eight pounds are called "snakes."
Prized by some for their firm, dark, relatively oily meat, kings are fished commercially with nets, but are mainly targeted by sport fishermen through trolling or employing various live bait techniques.
Kingfish are versatile for the plate; they can be broiled, fried, baked or smoked. Delicious to eat, consumption should be avoided by children and pregnant women due to the high mercury content of the meat.
Anglers and fishing experts looking for more, check Florida Fishing to find everything Florida waters have to offer you.
Also, before you set out to catch some fish, it would be great to know how to choose fishing guides in Florida.