King Mackerel

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King Mackerel

by Geoffrey English

King Mackerel (Scomberomorus Cavalla)
King Mackerel, or Scomberomorus Cavalla, are a popular sport and commercial fish. They share a long tapered body associated with all mackerels. They are dark gray on top with white underbellies. In the first stages of their lives, King Mackerel look similar to their cousins the Spanish mackerel. They have similar spotted markings, but kingfish lose the spots as they mature. Adult mackerel differ in the number of spines they have in their first dorsal fin, with King Mackerels having less than the Spanish.

They are a coastal species, living in the tropical waters of the Western Atlantic Ocean. They cover shores from Maine to Brazil and everything in between. They move in schools and typically don’t stay in one location for very long. They can most often be found in water depths between 10-20 fathoms. They migrate to wrecks or reefs where food is most plentiful. Larger fish are often separated from the school due to their slower speeds and aggressive nature, and are often found alone or in smaller groups.

King Mackerel are somewhat picky eaters.  Like any other fish, they are opportunistic, but typically seek out smaller fish. They do eat anchovies and some prawns, but not often. The slender lines of their body allow kingfish to be both swift and agile hunters. They constantly hunt for food with a hunger matching fish twice their size. They have long, sharp teeth that rest on powerful jaws, giving the mackerel an advantage in most every fight.

King Mackerel are aggressive fighters and will readily strike at flashy baits, swimmers and spoons.
Understanding the carnivorous nature of the King Mackerel can be quite useful for the avid fisherman. King Mackerel are a highly prized game fish, and put up an aggressive fight once hooked.  They are known to leap high out of the water and will test any reels drag just to get off the hook.  The most common ways to catch them are trolling or drift fishing, and strong equipment is a must. A successful catch will often require 20 pound tackle and line to combat this forceful fish. The sharp teeth of the kingfish can bite straight through most wire, so in this case, heavier wire leaders work best.

Mackerel respond well to lures, strip bait, or live bait. They like flashy lures like spoons or jigs, and are quite capable of capturing quick moving prey. Chumming can be an effective tool and can attract fish to the surface allowing the angler to site cast.

Anyone looking for a good fight should definitely try their hands at king fishing. It’s no easy task, but well worth the rewards. They are great for the game fishing community, and those who successfully reel these aggressors in are held in high regard. They are quickly becoming one of the most sought after game fish in the ocean. 

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