king mackerel

Kingfish (Scomberomorus cavalla)


  1. Size: King mackerel can grow to impressive sizes, with adults typically ranging from 5 to 30 pounds, although individuals over 50 pounds have been recorded. The largest specimens can exceed 90 pounds.
  2. Habitat: King mackerel are commonly found in nearshore coastal waters, along artificial reefs, shipwrecks, and in the vicinity of oil rigs. They prefer warmer waters, and their distribution can vary with the seasons, moving north during the warmer months and south during colder months.
  3. Bait: Kingfish feed primarily on a diet of fish and squid and are known for their voracious appetite. They can be seen “skyrocketing” over 20 feet into the air while hunting schools of baitfish. Live freelined threadfins, blue runners, or sardines are a favorite bait, but high speed trolling of spoons and diving plugs can also be very effective. 
  4. Tackle: Heavy spinning or conventional gear with wire leaders are recommended when kingfishing as they are incredibly strong, fast, and have razor sharp teeth. Their runs when hooked are legendary – large specimens are known as “smoker kingfish” due to their ability to peel line off of an undersized reel so quickly that it will often smoke and break. 
  5. Food Value: Kingfish have a high oil content which gives their meat a rich flavor – smoking is the primary preparation. Smoked kingfish dip is a prized food across Florida’s coastal communities.