Scaled sardines, thread fin herring, blue runners, cigar minnows, ponies, and mullet are just a few of the more popular bait fish species that king mackerel feed on. Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, Inshore Saltwater Fishing for $5 by clicking on the title link.
The two basic methods for catching bait are cast nets and Sabik rigs. Anglers using cast nets can catch a LOT of bait in short order.
Anglers who prefer to chum with live bait do need a large quantity of it. This method works great for anglers looking for several dozen baits for trolling or free lining.
While king mackerel are an open water fish, they will often time relate to some sort of structure. Part of the reason for this is that structure tends to attract the bait fish that they feed upon.
Areas of hard bottom, ledges, reefs, wrecks, and oil rigs will all attract and hold kings. Anglers can easily find the GPS numbers online or at local government websites.
While these spots won’t usually hold the larger schools of kings, they also get less fishing pressure. An added bonus is that anglers can bottom fish for grouper and snapper while waiting for a king to show up in the chum.
Large kings are called “smokers” because of their blistering initial runs that can literally “smoke” the drag. Reels, whether conventional or spinning, need to have a high capacity of line as well is a very smooth drag.
Most kings are caught by anglers trolling or free lining baits. Limber tips will help keep the small treble hooks that are used with stinger rigs in the fish.
Below are a couple of Penn combos that work well at an affordable price. A long leader is used between the planer and the spoon, with 20 feet being a good all-around length.
Black snap swivels on both ends will help reduce line twist. The spoon should be matched in size to the type of bait fish that are local to the area.
Anglers trolling spoons do well with a 20-foot section of 50 to 80 pound fluorocarbon. The best rig has 5 feet of doubled line using a Bimini Twist or spider hitch.
Anglers slow trolling with live bait fish often use a stinger rig. It either swings free or is lightly hooked into the back of the bait fish.
Plugs come in a myriad of sizes and colors, making it very easy for anglers to mimic the locally available forage. Anglers Florida king mackerel fishing with plugs will experience a high hookup rate.
As with all trolling, anglers can cover a lot of water efficiently and quickly. Blue runners, sardines, herring, cigar minnows, and mullet are the top live bait fish.
Large recirculating live wells are standard on king fish boats. Anglers using live bait for king fish can troll, drift, or anchor.
Slow trolling with a large live bait on a stinger rig accounts for some of the largest king mackerel taken by anglers. Drifting works well when the current and wind will move the bait along at the desired pace.
Anchoring is usually done in shallower water when king mackerel are located over a small piece of structure. Skirts and feathers are lures that are used to troll for king mackerel and other species.
They are troll right at the surface and put up a commotion which attracts game fish up to them. Often times they are used in conjunction with some type of natural bait, especially ribbon fish and ballyhoo.
In the wintertime, they will be found in the warmer climates such as the Florida Keys and Mexico. As the water warms up, this triggers the migration of both bait fish and mackerel.
Successful anglers use a networking system to keep abreast of the current king mackerel hot spots. Online fishing forums and social media reports can also be excellent sources of quality information.
Fortunately, king mackerel migrate parallel to the coastlines. Anglers who is a trailer their boats can follow the migrating fish north in the spring and south in the fall.
Larger fish are generally grabbed by the tail and laid along the gunnel of the boat while the hooks are removed. It is the act of putting bait in the water in hopes of attracting fish.
King mackerel respond very well to live and frozen chum. Then, they use an outrigger clip and slide a live bait down the line on another outfit.
King mackerel fish can be found in waters as shallow as 15 to 20 feet and often are caught by pier anglers. Finding king mackerel isn’t difficult; they’ll always be in or around schools of bait fish, especially during fall and spring migrations.
Surf and pier anglers catch a tremendous amount of Spanish mackerel throughout Florida using jigs or plugs. Spanish mackerel are a popular Florida fish with anglers seeking a quick and tasty dinner to cap off their trip.
Hero mackerel occur exclusively in the southern part of the state, most commonly in the Florida Keys. Hero mackerel also respond extremely well to chumming, especially when handfuls of live bait are tossed over patch reefs.
Tackle for mackerel can run the gamut from medium to heavy trolling outfits to small inshore spinning rods. All mackerel fish have blinding speed and incredible eyesight, and typically feed in clear waters that allow them to exert caution when approaching artificial pegged to a hook.
If you’ve ever witnessed the sight of mackerel rocketing through schools of bait fish, you understand why it’s impossible to ignore this speedster. On the Treasure Coast of Florida that means that they leave the area in November or December depending upon if we have early or late cold fronts.
They return to the Treasure Coast around April or May depending upon how cold the winter was. Spanish mackerel are a very fun fish to catch and put up one hell of a fight on light tackle.
In the article below, I will show you how to catch Spanish Mackerel in Florida waters. If you see little white birds diving, then you know that the right kind of bait is around for Spanish mackerel.
Those birds can handle larger fish species that might be a little too big for Spanish mackerel but it is worth investigating anyways. FUN FACT: The state record Spanish mackerel was almost 12 pounds and caught near Fort Pierce.
Sometimes the mackerel will be pretty far off of the beach so you may need a large surf casting rod to get at them. However, during the higher parts of the tide they are often within casting range of a normal fishing rod.
Many fish prefer a slow retrieve but I have found that mackerel like it fast and erratic. Believe me, mackerel are fast enough to catch even the fastest retrieve on a high speed reel.
I will sometimes cast a small silver spoon out behind my kayak or Jon boat as I am moving from one fishing spot to another. This is a great way to find fish of all kinds but especially Spanish mackerel when they are in town.
This species hunts in schools and works together to corral and pin the bait fish on the surface of the water so that they can feed on them more easily. It is hard to find the mackerel unless they have already found a school of bait fish and are feeding on them.
That is why trolling a silver spoon is a great way to cover a lot of water and find the fish. Trolling in general is a great way to find fish in the open ocean or out on the grass flats.
I like to troll behind my Jon boat and kayak at a fast walk pace when I am fishing inshore. I have caught pompano, bluefish, spotted sea trout, tarpon, jack crevasse, shook........ and all kinds of other fish too using this technique.
I target tarpon, shook, redfish and spotted sea trout 90 something percent of the time. BUT when I see a feeding school of Spanish mackerel crushing some hapless school of bait fish I will paddle over and catch a half dozen or so before I go back and fish for my big four every time.
They need the extra space and depth to herd the fish into a bait ball near the surface of the water. The best baits and lures for Spanish mackerel are smaller than the ones that you would normally use for other fish.
I like to use pilchards, scaled sardines and other small white baits that are 3 or 4 inches, at a maximum, in length. The Spanish mackerel will hit a 6-inch finger mullet but you very rarely catch them with a bait that big.
Any kind of spoon will do but make sure to double up on the barrel swivels so your line will not get twisted up. Use a faster retrieve than you normally would fish for other species. Spoons are great lures because they cast very well and you can cover a lot of water with them.
There are marks somewhere in the water column beneath you and you want a fried mackerel sandwich later. Just raise your rod tip 3 feet and then let it drop as you reel the lure up to find out where exactly the mackerel are in the water column.
Once you find the right depth you will just raise your lure rapidly and lit it fall back without reeling it. There are just like a big glass minnow or anchovy and Spanish Mackerel love them.
They catch a lot of mackerel, but they get bitten in half most of the time so you had better bring a bunch of them with you. My spotted sea trout set up is the best one because you get to hear the drag SCREAM with every mackerel.
A 2500 series reel combined with a 7 to 8 foot medium action rod is the way to go. If there are some small king mackerel in the mix then you might want to step up to a 3500 series reel and a 7 to 8 foot medium/heavy rod.