The southern kingfish is a bottom-dwelling fish that can be found in large numbers from Florida to Massachusetts. These fish can be caught by still fishing or surf casting with bottom baited rigs. The most effective baits to use for them are shrimp, squid, and live bait.
Habitat: Ocean, Coastal Waters
How to identify Southern Kingfish
The southern kingfish is an inshore bottom dweller. They have slender bodies with a downward-facing snout and mouth. Underneath their chin hangs a rigid barbel. Their bodies are silver-gray with a copperish sheen, while their abdomens have lighter coloring. Southern kingfish have vertical markings along their sides. Their dorsal fin is divided, giving it the appearance of two fins. Compared to the northern kingfish, southern kingfish have a lighter color, and they are missing the tall spine on their first dorsal fin.
Where to catch Southern Kingfish
These fish can be found in inshore and offshore waters of up to 30 feet deep. They’ve been spotted from Argentina up to the Gulf of Mexico and are commonly present from Florida up to Massachusetts. They general live in areas with grassy, muddy, or sandy bottoms. Sandy beach waters provide them with a meal of crabs and various crustaceans, which have been opened/dislodged from the crashing waves. Young southern kingfish have a tolerance for estuarial waters with low salinity.
The following are habitats where you can catch Southern Kingfish:
- Coastal Waters
- Inlets and Outlets
- Jetties and Breakers
- Piers, Docks and Pilings
- Saltwater Weed Beds
- Shoreline Shallows
- Surf and Shore
How to catch Southern Kingfish
The peak fishing season for the southern kingfish runs from September through November and April through May. They respond best to baited bottom rigs and are not very fond of lures. Look for them out in areas just past where the waves are breaking on the beach. The best methods for catching these fish are still fishing and surf casting.
When surf casting, place your bait using a small hook or bottom rig just past where the waves break on the beach.
The following are effective fishing methods and techniques for catching Southern Kingfish:
Best Lures, Bait & Tackle to catch Southern Kingfish
The best bait for catching southern kingfish includes shrimp, squid, and live bait fished on small hooks. They’ll also respond well to bloodworms and clams. Artificial lures are not generally recommended for fishing Southern Kingfish.
The following are fishing lures, bait and tackle that can be used to catch Southern Kingfish: