How To Rig For King Mackerel?

It is very productive to slow-troll for king mackerel using live baits or rigged dead baits, but this requires careful planning and effort. You must catch the live baits or purchase them, or you must purchase and prepare the dead baits. It’s time to grab the trolling spoons if king mackerel suddenly make their presence known while you’re already out on the water with another fishing strategy.

Pulling spoons is still very effective even though it may not be quite as good as trolling with the real thing. Plus, using them requires no advance preparation once you have the appropriate equipment on your boat. The following information will prepare you to troll for king mackerel at any time.

SPOONS: Purchase a variety of about a dozen wobbling spoons that are between four and six inches in length. The best colors to use are frequently silver, gold, red, and “firetiger” patterns. Some anglers also swear by spoons covered in reflective prismatic tape.

PLANERS – You should have a variety of #1 and #2 planers on hand, and some anglers like to add a #3 to the mix. You must be careful when storing these because they won’t function properly if they are bent.

LEADERS – Leaders typically have a length of 15 to 20 feet and a test of 40 to 80 pounds. To avoid bite-offs, some anglers will also add a foot or so of wire trace in front of the spoon. However, unless your spoons are on the small side and the fish in the area are on the large side, this usually isn’t too much of a problem because the spoon itself is bite-proof. Yes, a king’s teeth will go right through monofilament.

Swivels are an essential component of the rigging, but regular barrel swivels won’t work. Swivels with ball bearings are a necessity to prevent line twist caused by the spinning spoon. One should be inline halfway back on the leader, and another should be at the point where the leader and plane are attached.

When you discover king mackerel are present, set up these rigs and have them prepared so that you are ready for them with no further preparation needed.

Schmidt’s rigging differs from the tournament pros. “I use a single rather than a treble hook and a smaller stinger hook when fishing for large blue runners.” It’s easier on the fish,” he says. “Conditions dictate whether I anchor or drift. I’ll anchor if it’s windy and choppy and difficult to get a good drift. I’ll try to anchor on them and chum if there are a lot of fish I’m marking in a small area. If the fish are dispersed and difficult to locate, I’ll slow troll and drift. When we find pilchards, we will use them as bait and chum when we anchor up in a likely location. This can send kingfish into a feeding frenzy, which is quite the sight to see.

But as they swim, pogies eventually grow weary and develop red noses from slamming into the livewell’s walls. Fresh bait is crucial, so don’t be afraid to empty your wells at noon and return to the beach for a new supply, advises Workman. It’s usually not too far to return because Workman frequently fishes for pogies in 12 to 20 feet of water just off the beach, close to the schools where he first caught them.

Butler asserts that experience teaches you where big kings are most likely to be. “You’re likely to return to that same spot next season if you kill a big buck deer hunting,” he says. The same is true of kingfish; large fish remain in the same areas. ”.

In the minds of many offshore fishermen who reside between Texas and Virginia, the king mackerel is the best fish to catch. Kingfish strike indiscriminately, battle fiercely, and grow to be quite large, so why not? Additionally, fish can be found in plenty of locations along the southeast coast of the United States because fishery managers wisely eliminated drift gill nets in the 1990s, saving the kingfish stocks from collapse.

“I like ledges that drop off fairly quickly from 60 to 120 feet on the Atlantic side,” he continues. We search for structures like rock piles or wrecks in the Gulf. We use lots of block chum to get started. Blue runners, ballyhoo, pilchards, threadfin herring, and pinfish are the best baits. ”.

The most effective kingfish tournament pros emphasize the value of fishing the most desirable baits in particular locations in a particular way, despite the fact that their techniques vary. When it comes to catching large king mackerel, nothing is left to chance.

According to Henderson, fishing with more lines doesn’t always result in catching more kingfish: “Fish what your experience allows, even if it’s just two lines on opposite sides of the boat.” Fishing two good ones is much preferable to four that are frequently fouled up. ”.

Capt. Before moving to the Keys, Casey Hunt in Key West, Florida, won a number of kingfish tournaments on Florida’s Atlantic coast. Casey learned early on the significance of giving kings what they want.

“Yes, you kill a lot of bait, so you have to switch out your baits frequently to keep the water constantly fresh and lively,” However, by pulling these baits quickly, it doesn’t give that large kingfish enough time to thoroughly inspect the bait. And that raises your likelihood of catching a kingfish to be proud of.

He explains, “If we’re fishing live bait, we go as slowly as we can.” “Sometimes you bump-troll, sometimes you drift a little bit. The baits should swim as naturally as possible; you don’t want to drag them through the water. ”.

Rig Your Boat for Success

Serious kingfish anglers place a high priority on proper boat rigging. Depending on the time of year or coastal region, rigging must be able to accommodate a wide variety of techniques, such as downrigger troll­ing, kite­fish­ing, slow­troll­ing, drift­ing, or even anchor­ing.

The boat’s deck must be snag-free for cast-netting because catching live bait can also be extremely important. Having a lot of livewell space makes it possible for the boat to have enough good live bait to fish all day.

Using a variety of marine electronics, one can find schools of bait as well as important structure spots like wrecks and reef edges to catch king mackerel. Leading kingfish anglers claim that a high-quality GPS/chart plotter and fish finder are essential tools in this endeavor. Advertisement.

The best teams also have their boats fully stocked with all the live-bait hooks, kingfish rigs, leader material, and terminal tackle they could possibly need. Once on the fishing grounds, they can quickly adjust to any feeding patterns they may encounter because of this.

How To Rig For King Mackerel?

Research represents the most critical element in king mackerel fishing. About five days prior to the competition, Smith says, “I start looking at the Internet for local fishing reports.” Additionally, I monitor patterns of chlorophyll and sea surface temperature on websites like sst-offshore. com. Finding temperature breaks and the proper shade of water (known as “king green”) that may contain schools of bait is the goal. Find the bait and you’ll often find the kings.

While speaking with local anglers is an essential component of your research, Smith advises that you shouldn’t always take their statements at face value. Prefishing is the only way to confirm anything, suggests Smith. “Use the knowledge you have and fish the areas to confirm the accuracy of what other anglers are telling you. ” Advertisement.

Almost all of the top tournament anglers agree that silvery live baits like pilchards, threadfin herring, menhaden, mullet, and blue runners are preferable to dead baits. These same anglers also bring frozen baits like cigar minnows, ribbonfish, and Spanish mackerel because live bait is not always readily available.

While there is disagreement regarding the best kingfish bait, there is agreement regarding the size of the bait for trophy kingfish. According to Dean Panos, owner of the Double D, a 34-foot SeaVee Open on the tournament circuit, “the bigger kings seem to favor the bigger baits.” Panos is also a charter captain based in Miami.

Smith agrees. “Big baits equal big fish,” he says. Smith also has a method for making natural baits seem even larger: He adds some “flash” to a twin-treble bait rig with a wire leader that is typically used. The captain places a live bait in front of a blue Private Stock Skirt from Blue Water Candy Lures (see illustration below). When combined with the bait’s frantic vibrations, the shimmer from the reflective material not only increases the size of the bait but also draws a king’s attention from a distance.

Because dead baits cannot swim, trophy hunters frequently pair them with swimming lures. The Pirate Plug from South Chathum Tackle is one of the best kingfish lures (or bait rig arrangements). When slow-trolled, the lure is positioned in front of the nose-hooked bait to create a seductive swimming action. With this kingfish rig, Smith has triumphed in two competitions (see illustration below).

How To Rig For King Mackerel?

The more baits you use when fishing, the more opportunities there are for hookups, and the greater your chances are of landing a trophy fish.

Smith says, “I try to fish with as many baits as I can.” “We fish up to six lines at once, two off the T-top 150 feet away, two more from the transom 100 feet away, and two on downriggers. ”.

Flying a kite is another way to increase the spread; this method is used by many successful tournament anglers. Kites allow you to present baits far from the boat, which can help you tempt line-averse kings to bite.

Victor Jensen, whose South Florida team fishes the Reel Tension, a 29-foot SeaVee powered by twin Mercury Verado 300s, says his favorite technique is a combination of three kites on one side of the boat and flat lines on the other. “Since I don’t believe the bait behaves naturally with more than one hook when fished on the kite, our kite baits are single-hooked,” ”.

You can’t set and forget when fishing a spread. The best anglers constantly check their baits because kings are known to nibble at them without becoming hooked. Making frequent checks on the baits makes sure they are swimming normally and free of slash marks.

There is much to consider when trolling for king mackerel. The best tournament anglers believe that trolling too quickly is one of the biggest errors anglers make when pursuing trophy kings. When trolling live bait, Smith explains, “dead idle is all that’s needed, and sometimes that’s too fast.” On these occasions, Smith turns off one of his twin outboards, slowly navigating the boat with just one engine.

When trolling for bait, some tournament anglers find any speed to be too fast. Doug Stanford, owner of Pirates of the Bay charters aboard his Everglades 243 based out of Port Aransas, Texas, says that he enjoys drifting around oil platforms in search of monster kings with live baits like blue runners, croaker, or menhaden. He drifts dead 20- to 24-inch ribbonfish with a quarter-ounce egg sinker in the head of a pink hoochie skirt when there isn’t live bait available.

How To Rig For King Mackerel?

Leading competitors claim that while downriggers are indispensable in the hunt for trophy kings, they also need special rigging and a fish finder to achieve the best results.

According to a prominent team captain, one of the rigging tricks is to swap out the downrigger’s wire cable for 200-pound monofilament line. According to Jensen, who thinks that the twangy noise of the taut wire cable is unappealing to big kings, using heavy mono eliminates the hum in the water that wire cable generates.

Additionally, Jensen uses a downrigger to fish two baits at once, clipping one line at the weight and another line from a different rod halfway down the line. Usually, he will begin trolling one downrigger weight at a depth of 60 feet and the other weight at a depth of 40 feet until he discovers a feeding pattern.

Focusing on the fish finder allows you to locate schools of bait, which in turn directs where to position the downrigger depths. The majority of the tournament participants that we spoke with attempt to troll the baits through or just above the bait schools.


What is the best bait for king mackerel?

Almost all of the top tournament anglers agree that silvery live baits like pilchards, threadfin herring, menhaden, mullet, and blue runners are preferable to dead baits. These same anglers also bring frozen baits like cigar minnows, ribbonfish, and Spanish mackerel because live bait is not always readily available.

How do you rig blue fish for king mackerel?

Dead sardine (featured above) or ribbonfish are two excellent options. Rig with small skirt or jig forward, stinger hook aft. It’s always fun to begin the day with a kingfish strike that makes a drag-screaming noise. The few hours just before sunrise are also among the most fruitful.

Related Posts