King Mackerel

King mackerel are a popular game fish. They live in the western Atlantic Ocean and are especially targeted by anglers in Texas and North Carolina. Various methods will work for catching these fish, including saltwater jigging, trolling, drift fishing, and still fishing. Chumming is recommended for attracting them.

King Mackerel

Region: Northeast, South
Habitat: Ocean, Coastal Waters

How to identify King Mackerel

The king mackerel is relatively easy to tell apart from other mackerels that inhabit the west Atlantic. These fish have a distinct drop in their lateral line. They also have fewer spines in their first dorsal fins. Young king mackerels have markings similar to the Spanish mackerel; however, as king mackerels mature, their markings fade. The first third of the dorsal fins in Spanish and cero mackerels are black, whereas the king’s are mainly blue.

Where to catch King Mackerel

King mackerels can be found in the warm waters of the western Atlantic Ocean from Maine in the U.S. down to Brazil and the Gulf of Mexico. In the winter, these fish hang out around southern Florida. Being a migrant fish, they’re always actively moving. Florida stocks migrate during the winter towards Texas and northerly up to Virginia in the summer. In spring and the first part of summer, they stay near southern Florida. These fish school out in the open ocean or along coastlines. They are typically found in water as deep as 60-120 feet. At times, king mackerel can be caught off of piers or in inlet areas. Kings are abundant in places where there is plenty of food, such as coral reefs, shipwrecks, and buoys.

Range: Northeast, South
King Mackerel Fishing Map

The following are habitats where you can catch King Mackerel:

How to catch King Mackerel

King mackerel are a very popular gamefish in North Carolina and Texas. Their speed makes them a challenge to catch. The best methods to use for catching king mackerel are trolling and jigging with baits or lures. Other popular methods include drift fishing and still fishing. Chumming works well to attract the fish to the boat. Because king mackerel are known for biting the rear section off of live bait, it’s a good idea to use two hooks securing one to the mouth of the bait, and the other to the rear.

The following are effective fishing methods and techniques for catching King Mackerel:

Best Lures, Bait & Tackle to catch King Mackerel

Kings respond well to bait, such as ballyhoo, mullet, jacks, herring, pinfish, and croakers. Lures, such as jigs and plugs, are also effective.

The following are fishing lures, bait and tackle that can be used to catch King Mackerel: