Kingfish can be found offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, on our beaches, and in Tampa Bay during Spring and Fall. In Tampa Bay Kingfish can be found around the pilings of bridges and large piers. Kingfish are a migratory species that are fast swimmers and aggressive eaters, so they make for a good fishing experience. Once a king fish is on the line your reel begins to scream and you are in for an awesome fight!
Kingfish have a greenish colored back with silvery sides a streamlined body and tapered heads. There is a lateral line that starts high and drops sharply below the second dorsal fin. Young kingfish often have yellow spots like those of the Spanish mackerel.
Kingfish are also known as King Mackerel. Kingfish are schooling fish that migrate from south Florida waters in winter northward in spring. They spawn offshore in mid-summer. Kings can be found offshore in springs where the water is always 72 degrees if the beaches are still too cool. Kings feed on small fish and will strike at both natural and artificial baits. Live baits include spanish sardines, pogies, herring, ballyhoo,blue runners and mullet, just to name a few. While using artificial Lures, it is important to use something flashy like a silver sub-surface lure or large fish-like plugs. Kingfish don’t have the best eyesight so using chum will attract the fish and something reflective will lead them right into your cooler. In the Gulf of Mexico we are allowed to keep 2 King Mackerel per angler.
Fishing Tackle for Catching Kingfish
Tackle requirements depend on the method of fishing. Spinning or bait-casting tackle with 20 to 30 pound monofilament line is sufficient when free lining live baits as long as you have enough spool capacity for the initial run after hookup. While kingfish do not have great endurance, they are very fast and will commonly take 150 to 300 yards of line off the reel in the first 30 seconds of the fight.
For trolling, 30 to 50 pound trolling tackle is commonly used. Kings have very sharp teeth requiring the use of a wire leader or very heavy monofilament leader.
If you like to eat your catch Kingfish is a great fish that can be cooked anyway you’d like. Kingfish has an oily, soft, pale flesh, that is sometimes pink, which when cooked, becomes flaky and firm with an off-white color. The rich flavor will vary according to how it is prepared.