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Kingfish Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Steve on Saturday, 21 January 2012. Posted in Fish Info


Miami KingfishFrom the family Scrombridae of the genus Scromberomorus is a fish otherwise known as King Mackerel, and Kingfish are decidedly a favorite game fish for anglers. This migratory fish is found in abundance in the western Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, from North Carolina all the way to Rio de Janeiro. There are two groups of Kingfish existing on the American coast. The Gulf of Mexico group ranges from Texas during summer and the middle-east coast of Florida during winter. The Atlantic group can be found off the coast of North Carolina during spring and fall and travels to southeast Florida where they spawn from May to August, slowly returning through summer. Anglers in Florida really love chasing these fish and delight in their sheer numbers.

Typically weighing anywhere from five to thirty pounds, Kingfish are medium in size but have been known to weigh as much as 90lbs. Small, loose and hardly visible scales cover their entire bodies. The pelvic fins and the first dorsal fins are colorless and are folded back into a body groove. Starting high on the shoulder, the lateral line dips at mid-body and continues to the tail as a wavy horizontal line. Their coloration consists of olive on the back, fading to silver (with a rosy iridescence) on the sides and finally to white on the belly.

Kingfish are voracious predators and they are opportunistic. Depending on their size, area and season, they will feed on squid, menhaden, jacks, cutlassfish, weakfish, grunts, striped anchovies, cigar minnows, threadfin, northern mackerel and even blue runners. Kingfish are fished commercially and are tasty to many. Their flesh is too oily for some people’s tastes though.

As with their cousin Wahoo, Kingfish are incredibly fast. Their large numbers and speed are the reason for their staggering popularity. These fish on your lines means your reel will literally scream as your line peels off. Here is some information that can help you when Kingfish fishing in Florida:

Bait for Kingfish

Various baits can be used such as herring, shrimp, ribbonfish and squid but ballyhoo is by far the preferred bait to use.

Where to find Kingfish

Structure oriented fish, Kingfish can be found near coral reefs, wrecks, offshore ridges, rocks and ledges. The larger “smokers” love deep wrecks in waters ranging between 100ft and 300ft deep.

Tackle for Kingfish

Light tackle that includes a high quality fishing rod and a reel that can hold up to 400m of line. An excellent drag system is necessary and it should hold at least a 20lbs or 25lbs test. Since catching Kingfish is about finesse, a medium to fast tip rod is recommended. Spinning rods and boat rods are also highly effective.

Techniques for Kingfish

There are various trolling methods that can be used for catching Kingfish. Trolling spoons, buck tails with strip baits and big deep driving lures all work well. The larger “smokers” are best caught by slow trolling ballyhoo, either alive or with the backbone removed so that it looks natural as a dead bait. Here are some extremely important tips to remember:

  • Kingfish have very sharp teeth and they are very particular about the way your bait is swimming in the water. This means that rigging your bait correctly is of paramount importance if you wish to have any success. For live bait, a 2/0 or 3/0 hook should be hooked through the mouth or nose. The main wire leader length should be between three and five feet. A small barrel swivel should connect the wire to the mono and the wire must be as small in diameter as possible. The wire must not be obvious and the bait must move naturally. A 4X stinger treble hook needs to be attached by wire to the front hook and inserted into the back of your bait. Kingfish are known to bite off the tail ends of bait which is why this hook is extremely necessary to catch them. The long main wire leader is required because it is very common for other Kingfish to cut off your catch during the retrieve. Barracuda, Amberjacks and Sharks are also known to cut off your fish. In fact, the entire food chain can be responsible for this as they are all prevalent in these waters.
  • When slow trolling rigged ballyhoo, it helps to bump your motor in and out of gear to maintain forward movement at extremely slow speed. Putting a dropper loop in the main fishing line about 30ft ahead of the bait will get them down to varied depths to reach the Kingfish. Attaching several ounces of lead to a snap swivel is very effective and will act as a downrigger that can be removed during the retrieve by removing the snap swivel from the dropper loop. Once removed, you can wind the small dropper loop back through the reel. You can use spinning reels and level winds very successfully, instead of expensive downriggers.

Call us to book your Kingfish Fishing Charter in Florida and thrill in their high speed.




About the Author

Capt. Steve

Captain Steve's Bio

Steve was born in Bethesda, Maryland but has spent most of his life in South Florida.  Currently residing in Fort Lauderdale, Captain Steve is a partner in Ocean Brands LLC and operates VIP Fishing Charters.  Over the years Steve has cemented relationships with the top fishing captains and best fishing boats.  His mission when creating VIP Fishing Charters was to make sure every client has the best experience possible regardless of the conditions.  You can often times find Steve waiting at the dock after you arrive back from your fishing charter, making sure everyone had a great time and you caught a ton of fish!

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