How to Catch Kingfish Video
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Video:How to Catch Kingfish

with Jeff Mackin

Kingfish may seem difficult to catch, but they're not so hard if you know what you're doing. This video from will offer some tips on catching kingfish.See Transcript

Transcript:How to Catch Kingfish

Hi, I'm Jeff Makin with the International Game Fish Association. Today, with, we're going to be talking about king mackerel, or kingfish. 

This is a king mackerel right here. This is a Smoker King, which means it's a good-sized fish, over twenty pounds.

King mackerel are an important game fish; they range from the northeast all the way down to Florida, through the Gulf coast, and down sometimes even down into Mexico.

Trolling for Kingfish

Popular ways of targeting kingfish are trolling. The biggest kingfish are often close to the beach. You'll find them out from the beach out to about a hundred and fifty feet of water. Popular ways of baits to troll are things like rigged ballyhoo; kind of like this. You can also have pretty good success with trolling plugs, large lipped trolling plugs.

One of the most important things to consider when you're trolling for kingfish is you want to have baits that are both at the surface, because a lot of times kingfish will be feeding at the surface, but oftentimes some of the bigger ones will be down deeper as well. So, you want to get your bait, have some bait that are down deep. You want to use things like plainters to get your bait down deep. You can also use down riggers or inline trolling sinkers.

Double Rigging Bait

Often times when you're trolling for kingfish, especially when you're using skirted ballyhoo, they're notorious for short striking, because kingfish, they way they feed, is they cut a bait in half, then they swing around and pick up the pieces. When you're trolling, often times they cut in half but you keep going, and you take the bait away from them. So to get away from that, to get around that, if you double rig your baits with a second hook, a trailing hook, you'll often catch the short striking kings. Kings have a mouth just full of teeth, so you're always going to want to use wire when there's kings around. 

Using Live Bait for Kingfish

A great way to catch kings, besides trolling, is drifting with live baits, you can also power bump troll, and another way is kite fishing. Whenever you're fishing with live baits, you're definitely going to want to use some wire leader, at least a trace of wire leader. So that when you've hooked the fish their teeth don't cut you off.

Where to Find Kingfish

To find kingfish, often times they hang around inlets, just offshore, you'll find them off the beaches when they're following mullet, or schools of menhaden or pilchards, all the way to one hundred and fifty feet of water. When you find where they are, you want to try to match the hatch, try to use baits, and lures that closely mimic what they're feeding on. Some great baits are things like goggle eyes, blue runners, big mullets, large pilchards, things like that; those make great baits. Large kingfish, they're a slow growing fish and they're kind of lazy as well. They don't want to have to work hard to catch a lot of little fish; they want to eat big meals.

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