Fish Razr’s Ultimate Guide to King Mackerel Fishing

Jun 6th 2023

Fish Razr’s Ultimate Guide to King Mackerel Fishing

Successful kingfish fishing requires specific techniques, tough tackle, and as always, a dash of luck. If you’re hitting the kingfish tournament circuit, a fraction of an ounce can mean the difference between taking home a first-place trophy (and the glory and prizes that come with it) and, well, not.

Even if you’re just heading out for a casual day on the water, taking steps to improve your chances of landing a monster kingfish makes for a more exciting day at sea. And if you’re lucky enough to pull one in, you’re in for a mighty tasty grilling session—they’re not just nicknamed smokers for their speed!

Follow these tips, and you’ll be crowned as king mackerel fishing royalty in no time.

1. Use Tough Equipment

Learning how to fish for kingfish often means sacrificing weak tackle to the depths. Don’t make that mistake. Kingfish have extremely sharp teeth and keen eyesight, so they’re known to tear through tackle. Bust out your biggest and baddest gear so you’re ready. As far as leaders go, the best approach is to use wire line to prevent breakage when reeling in king mackerel.

2. Use Big, Flashy Baits

a school of silvery bait fish

Opinions about king mackerel fishing vary widely, but most kingfish fishing champions agree that bigger bait attracts bigger kingfish. Live, silvery bait fish like blue runners, pilchards, menhaden, and herring are all popular choices. For frozen baits, ribbonfish, cigar minnows, and Spanish sardines are all fine options.

Lures can be productive on their own, but many anglers incorporate them into their spreads alongside live or frozen bait to add some irresistible flash. Reflective, colorful, and holographic teasers and lures provide that extra shimmer and shine that makes keen-sighted kingfish take notice. Our StripZ Dredge Kits are also easy to deploy and add a bunch of shimmer to attract fish.

3. Seek “King Green” Water

Green ocean water

King mackerel prefer to feed in privacy. When king mackerel fishing, water temperature isn’t nearly as important as water color. Skip the clear blue and seek out murkier “king green” water. Kingfish often hang out around structures like oil rigs, and diving birds are a telltale sign that fish are lurking below.

4. Consider Chum Enticement

You might need to whet kings’ appetites to get the feeding frenzy started. Some anglers have their own secret chum recipes, which can include chunks of bait fish, fish oils, and even glitter. The right recipe will depend largely on where and when you’re fishing, so you might need to do some research beforehand to plan your king mackerel fishing mix.

As far as chum disbursement goes, a common method is to pour out a scoop from your bucket, wait for it to disappear, and then repeat. Keep the chum coming even when you have a kingfish on the line, as there’s a good chance that other kings will be lurking nearby.

5. Take It Slow

In a kingfish fishing tournament, a speedy boat will give you an advantage by helping you get to the hot spots before the competition. However, many champions recommend trolling at very low speeds, drifting silently with just one engine or none at all. Besides being the stealthy approach to king mackerel fishing, taking it nice and easy will keep live bait alive and active—let the bait's natural movements do the work.

Once the king is on the line, you can get more aggressive with your boat handling—they tend to run fast, and you might need to chase them down. Use light drag settings (2-3 lbs) to prevent line breakage and pulled hooks. During the fight, slow and steady wins the race. Keep your pressure light but consistent, inching your catch gently upwards, bit by bit.

As a general rule when targeting large fish, if you catch a small one, you might want to find a new king mackerel fishing spot. The monsters usually stick together, and the little ones aren’t typically invited to the party.

6. Trolling

When trolling, use lures and dead bait to cover more ground or when you’re going in between spots. We recommend trolling at a speed of 5-7 knots, whereas slow trolling with live bait is around 1.5 knots or less. We have a variety of lures that are perfect for trolling mackerel, like our Tuna Buster and our Dolphin Daze lures. We recommend choosing green-colored lures for kingfish trolling.

Shop Tournament-Grade Tackle

These tips and techniques on how to fish for kingfish will put you on the right track but don’t overlook the importance of high-quality tackle, especially when targeting kingfish. From dredge and teaser baits to saltwater trolling lures, Fish Razr has the gear you need to bring more fish to the boat and take home tournament trophies. Shop now, and check our blog for more in-depth offshore angling guides.

About Author

Les Orr is a co-owner of Fish Razr and a native of the Gulf Coast of Texas. He grew up fishing the inshore waters of the Galveston Bay system and occasionally offshore. He moved to South Carolina for a job opportunity in 1994, and his love of the offshore grew in the Charleston area. He currently lives and works in Mt. Pleasant, SC, with a wife and two young kids, 12 and 13 years old. His son is becoming quite the angler and loves going offshore to catch dolphin, tuna, wahoo, and the occasional marlin or sailfish.