November 14, 2019

King of the Sea: Everything You Need to Know About the King Mackerel

king mackerel

King mackerel is one of the most popular fish to hunt. They’re huge and fast, making them a fun challenge for any fisherman. They’re also delicious to eat.

Are you ready to take up the challenge? Sure, you are. Before you head out though, there are some things that you should know.

It will be hard for you to hunt the fish if you’re not sure where to find them or what they will go for in terms of bait. Luckily, you have us. Keep reading to find out all you need to know about catching this massive king of the sea.

1. Basic Info

Before we get into huge depth about how to spot a King mackerel or what they eat, let’s go over the basics. Again, the reason why they are so popular is that they’re huge and they taste amazing.

They’re also fast and will put up a massive fight to not get themselves caught. They prefer warmer water temperatures of about 70 degrees. They will go for frozen or live bait. They’ll even bite at lures if you’re lucky.

The best way to spot one is to look for large schools of fish. These smaller fish are an all you can eat buffet for the King mackerel.

2. Appearance

King mackerel either has a black or bluish-green top with silver on the sides. When they’re young, you may confuse them for Spanish mackerel because of the yellow spots on the side.

They have incredibly sharp teeth that they use to consume their prey. They are large in that they can weigh up to 50lbs.

The one trait that sets the king mackerel a part from any other is their sharp, linear shape.

3. Personality

King mackerel migrate around waters, following smaller species of fish. Often they travel in schools around reefs where these baitfish tend to frequent.

When the mackerel spots their prey they attack head-on and hard. They’re quick and aggressive. This makes for a fun and challenging catch.

4. What Bait Will They Go for?

Again, King mackerel go for live bait, frozen bait, and lures. small fish and squid are popular choices with them. Bright, silvery lures and baits attract them because they are visual hunters.

The strong scent of chum will also bring them in. To give you a better idea of what you can use, here are a few popular bait options.


Pogies, also known as Atlantic menhaden, is one of the most popular options. They are available in great numbers in a lot of different areas around the Atlantic. It won’t be hard for you to gather a few to use as bait.


Even more popular than Pogies are Hardtails. They are found in all areas around the Gulf and Atlantic. You’ll be able to gather a bunch of them and the King mackerel will jump on them.


Goggle-eyes are nocturnal so if you want to catch some to use as bait, night time is your best bet. A lot of predators love to snack on these. King mackerel included.


Mullets are one of the most common baitfish that you can find. You can bring in a bunch of them in about any location that you’re in. They are silver on the side, which will bring in the king mackerel.

Yellowtail Snapper

King mackerel love yellowtail snappers. Their coloration coupled with the fact that they are yellowtail will bring in the mackerel.

The only thing that you need to keep in mind with using them is that there are restrictions on the kind that you can use in terms of size. You’ll need to find out what these are in your area before you use them.


Pilchards are a common baitfish that are easy to catch using a net. You can use them as live chum or as hooked bait. King mackerel will take them either way.

Threadfin Hering

The threadfin herring is a delicate fish. Despite how fragile they are, fisherman love to use them as bait to bring in a variety of gamefish. This includes King mackerel.

Cigar Minnows

Cigar minnows travel in large packs so it won’t be hard for you to find a bunch to use as bait. This being said, it’s not easy to catch them using a net. You should try using a Sabikis instead.

5. Proper Catching Technique

Once you’ve chosen your bait you can set to work on trying to catch your King mackerel. The best technique to use when it comes to catching this big gamefish is trolling.

If you’re not familiar with trolling, it’s when you set up several lines behind the boat. The boat can stay still or you can move slowly through the water. If you choose to allow the boat to stay still, you’ll need to move the line every once in a while so the movement can attract the fish.

If you want, you can drop chum as well. The smell will lure in the fish and attract them to your line.

King Mackerel Facts Every Fisherman Should Know

King mackerel are powerful and fast, making them a fun challenge for any fisherman. They also make for a delicious addition to any dish. They aren’t easy to catch though.

You can up your chances by learning more about where to locate them and what they like to eat. We hope you’re able to use this guide to study up on the fish and reel in the catch of the day.

Want to up your chances for catching a King mackerel? Book a charter with us today. We can’t wait to be a part of your next fishing adventure.

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