KING MACKEREL - Scomberomorus cavalla Family Scombridae, MACKERELS AND TUNAS
Also Known as Kingfish
Description: color of back iridescent bluish green, sides silvery; streamlined body with tapered head; no black pigment on front of the first dorsal fin; lateral line starts high and drops sharply below the second dorsal fin; young fish often have yellowish spots like those of Spanish mackerel.
Similar fish: cero, S. regalis; Spanish mackerel, S. maculatus.
Where found: NEARSHORE and OFFSHORE; occasionally taken from jetties and piers running into deep water.
Size: common to 20 pounds.
Remarks: schooling fish that migrates; during the winter months they inhabit tropical waters and with the coming of spring begin their northward migration into the waters along the Texas Gulf Coast. As the the days cool in the fall, they reverse their direction and head south back to the tropics. Gulf population thought to be separate from Atlantic population, with considerable mixing in winter from Cape Canaveral past Key West; spawns in mid summer OFFSHORE; feeds on small fish and squid.
The angler who has never tangled with a big "Smoker" King is in for a shock, both mentally and physically. They strike hard, and when they feel the hook, they take off on a scorching run. The reel stripping run of a big King is a startling experience. Stainless wire leaders are a must. The mouths of Kings are full of sharp teeth and they can cut an unprotected line almost instantly.
Just about any bait in the 5 to 8 inch range will catch Kings, be it artificial or natural. Trolled feather jigs and large spoons work wonderfully. Natural baits such as cigar minnows, mullet, croaker, ribbon fish, and cut baits work just as well. When fishing offshore, keep an eye out for the shrimping fleet early in the morning. Shrimpers drag their nets at night and usually haul them in at daylight. The culling and cleaning of the nets, draw Kings and other fish together around the shrimp boats looking for an easy meal.