About King Mackerel, Fishing in Orange Beach, Techniques and Recipes
King Mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla) have been the staple for all fishermen on the Alabama Gulf Coast for as long as people have been fishing. The King Mackerel is a good size fish that ranges from 4 to 40 pounds, but some have gone over 80 pounds.
The average size is about 8 to 10 pounds. These fish have large razor looking teeth and will slice through almost any monofilament line. That is why most Orange Beach anglers that fish for them, use steel leader material to keep them from getting their line cut and losing the fish. Their skin has very small scales that are not visible to they eye until you start trying to clean your fishing gear or boat. Their dorsal fin is small and is almost transparent in color and most of the time it is folded down where you can’t see it. When the fish are small or less than 24” in size, they have yellow spots on their sides, much like a Spanish Mackerel. The only way you can tell the difference from a Spanish Mackerel is to pull up the dorsal fin. A King Mackerel has hardly any color on their fin, where a Spanish Mackerel has a much larger dorsal fin with a dark black color on the first third of the dorsal. The adult King Mackerel have an easy to see lateral line that dips at a 30 to 40 degree angle downward and then straightens back out and continue to the tail. These fish are either Dark Olive color on their backs and a gray to silver tent on their sides and a white abdomen or belly.
Where and How Anglers Catch King Mackerel While Trolling and Bottom Fishing
This species of migratory fish is the most popular near shore species caught near Orange Beach and Gulf Shores. The charter boats who fish for them really know what they are doing and know how to catch them. A trolling charter is also one of the most economical ways to spend a few hours fishing and still keep land in sight. This is especially helpful for those who has never been deep sea fishing before. Seeing land is a comfort for those who may be apprehensive about deep sea fishing.
Most of the King Mackerel are caught while trolling fishing. Trolling is where the Orange Beach fishing boat keeps moving through the water at about 4.5 to 5.5 knots. We have multi color skirts and metal spoons we pull behind the boat at different distances and depths. This is because you never know if the King Mackerel are feeding deep or shallow. By offering these fish different options such as color, size, type of bait and different depths and distances, you increase your chance of hooking a nice King Mackerel. Most of the lures have up to three hooks lined up in a row or are looped together in a series. The technique of using multiple hooks, increases an anglers success rate of hooking a fish. It is because the Kings feed so quickly, they may only hit the rear of the bait, instead of the front of the bait in order to kill it. Sometimes we troll through a school of kings and every line we have out gets a hit and that is when trolling for Kings becomes chaotic and fun for everyone on board the Orange Beach Fishing Boat.
The new Alabama State Record for King Mackerel was caught in April 2012 while fishing in Orange Beach. This monster size, prehistoric looking King was caught on an Orange Beach Boat who was throwing a drift line with a steel leader on it and was using a live bait fish. Charter boat captains call this Drift Line fishing. It is commonly used while fishing about 20 miles southeast in an area known as the Trysler Grounds. This area is about nine miles wide and five miles deep and contains a lot of large rocks, ridges and has a limestone base.
Food Quality of King Mackerel
The food quality of these fish is good and anglers should keep enough to eat while they are in town for a few meals. Some of the larger fish are known as Smoker Kings, which means that they are really better if they meat is smoked. The reason is, like most fish, they do not freeze well because of the texture of the meat is flaky to soft. They do not have firm filets like other fin fish species do. However, they are an excellent source of seafood for those who want to try mackerel.
The larger size King Mackerel have been reported to have traces of Mercury in them which for a long time, made this fish unpopular to consume. The ideal size fish to catch and keep are anywhere from 24” fork length up to 30.” These fish are usually 2 to 3 years of age and Mercury has not had enough time to build up in their system. These smaller kings are actually really good to eat and the meat is flakier than that of the larger Kings caught.