King Mackerel

Scomberomorus cavalla

Other Names
kingfish, southern mackeral

The body of the fish is iron-gray or green along the back, silvery on the sides and white on the belly. The fins are pale to dusky. A small king's sides may have spots similar to Spanish mackerel, but they may be distinguished by their lateral line which dips sharply. Also, the anterior portion of the primary dorsal fin is clear, rather than black, as in a Spanish.

Typical Habitat
King mackerel are caught as far north as the Gulf of Maine, but more often from Virginia south to Brazil, including the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Kingfish prefer warm waters. This affinity for warm temperatures and the availability of food result in extensive annual migrations along the southeastern United States, north in the spring, south and fall. They're generally found near reefs, bouys, wrecks, ocean piers and other structure holding baitfish. Kings will hit spoons, plugs and dead baits, but slow-trolling live indigenous baitfish proves most effective for larger fish. With any bait, wire leader helps repel a formidable set of teeth.

Feeding Habits
Kings feed mainly on migratory, surface-schooling fishes such as menhaden, thread herring, and Spanish and scaled sardines. They also consume small quantities of squids and shrimps. Feeding kingfish often leap out of the water in pursuit of prey.

Age and Growth
Although a fish as old as 14 years has been reported, individuals over 7 years old are rare. Females are larger than males of equal age. A female in its seventh year is approximately 39 inches long, while a male the same age measures about 32 inches.

Sporting Qualities
Sport fishermen troll, cast, and drift fish for kings. Most of the larger fish are caught by trolling live bait, spoons, or diving plugs. The typical rig is a revolving spool reel spooled with 300 yards of 15 to 30-pound monofilament with a stinger rig consisting of a 2/0 bait hook with a No. 4-6 treble hook trailed behind, all attached to No. 3-5 coffee colored wire. Another effective method is trolling a large spoon along with a planer to get it deep. The best months for fishing vary and are dependent on water temperature, clarity and bait availability.

Food Quality
The flesh of king mackerel is oily and is best broiled, smoked or grilled. Large fish may be cut into steaks and basted with butter and lemon juice while being broiled or grilled. Fresh fish is best, but to draw out any gaminess, marinate in orange juice, Golden Italian salad dressing or milk for a 2 hours chilled.

World Record
93 lbs. San Juan, Puerto Rico

Preferred Temps
68 to 76

Preferred Temps
70 to 89

Material from eAngler.com.

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