The King Mackerel, Scomberomorus cavalla
Adults are heavy bodied, with large mouth and razor teeth. Elongated body is greenish above but mostly silvery and unmarked, except in juveniles, which have spots.
OTHER NAMES: Kingfish, Sierra, Cavalla
SIZE: School fish may run from 4 to around 20 pounds; individuals to 50 pounds, or slightly more, are not rare. Potential is from 75 to possibly 100 pounds. World record 93 pounds; Florida record 90 pounds.
FOOD VALUE: Depends on taste of the individual. Flesh is rich and oily. Fine broiled or smoked.
GAME QUALITIES: Kings are about as fast as Wahoo, although they seldom get that acknowledgment. Re-gardless, they are strong and sizzling fighters at any size.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Trollers generally choose ocean outfits with lines testing from 20-40 pounds, but kings of all sizes can be caught on spinning, baitcasting and even fly tackle. Spoons trolled behind planers are good, as are rigged Cigar Minnows and feather-minnow combinations. Fishing with Pilchards as both chum and live bait could be the most productive system of all, but drifting with rigged baits, strips or live baits, including live shrimp, is effective too. For casters, spoons and nylon jigs usually work best. Fly rodders do well with shiny flies on sinking lines.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Drifting; Trolling; Still Fishing.
RANGE: All Florida coasts; also the Bahamas and Greater Antilles, but not in such great quantity.
HABITAT: In the Bahamas, around reef dropoffs. In Florida, widely distributed from the edge of blue water all the way to the beaches. Runs of schooling fish occur on both coasts in spring and fall, with action possible throughout the summer in North and Central Florida and, throughout the winter in Southeast Florida and the Keys. The runs take place, usually, in water from 20 to 100 feet deep, which is fairly close to shore along the Southeast Coast; farther out elsewhere. The very biggest fish, however, are often hooked very close in and are referred to as “Beachcombers.”