State Waters Harvest Seasons
Habitat and Fishing Tips:
King mackerel are found in both nearshore and offshore waters throughout Florida, often near schools of baitfish. Like many of the pelagic species, kings prefer water temperatures above 68 degrees, so they migrate to warmer waters in the fall of the year. Kings feed primarily on schooling bait fish and squid and are commonly caught while trolling with flashy spoons or duster rigged with a whole cigar minnow. Free lining or slow trolling with live baits (cigar minnows, herring, sardines, blue runners) is a great way to hook the larger and more solitary kings. Free lining a live squid at night, especially over reefs that hold baitfish, can also be very effective. Tackle requirements depend on the size of fish and the method of fishing. Spinning or bait-casting tackle with 20 to 30 pound monofilament line is sufficient when free lining live baits as long as you have enough spool capacity for the initial run after hookup. While kingfish do not have great endurance, they are very fast and will commonly take 100 to 200 yards of line off the reel in the first 30 seconds of the fight. For trolling, 30 to 50 pound trolling tackle is commonly used. Kings have very sharp teeth requiring the use of wire or very heavy monofilament leader.
90 lb, caught near Key West
Florida Rule for Atlantic Stock (excludes Monroe County) , Florida Rule for Gulf Stock (includes Monroe County)
Gulf Federal Waters Rules
Atlantic Federal Waters Rules
Image Credit:Diane Rome Peebles
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