Every Queen Needs A King... A King Mackerel
The King Mackerel is one of a large number of targeted saltwater fish species on the East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. At first glance, they aren’t the most beautiful saltwater fish, with their iron-gray and silvery bottom colors, but if you ask people who fish for them, they are one of the tastiest. These sea creatures are known to grow quickly and can get up to 5.5 feet in length! The life span isn’t that of the turtle, but they can live for about 20 years! We sought out to learn more about these amazing creatures and why so many anglers love fishing for them.
According to the NOAA the King Mackerel is well sought after on the East Coast for many reasons, one being that they are a smart food choice because they are reasonably harvested and follow U.S. fishing regulations, but in the 1980s that wasn’t the case. During that time, the King Mackerel population was unregulated and was very depleted. Thankfully, with rules and regulations in place, that changed and the population is thriving once again. Each state has their own regulations when it comes to bag and size limits in order to help the species continue to thrive.
One section that we always find interesting is fishing rules and regulations; no matter if you fish for fresh or saltwater fish, the rules and regulations depend on the area you are fishing. As always, we recommend that all anglers research area rules and regulations prior to fishing if they are unsure or new to a location. Commercial fishermen must have a permit in order to harvest (or keep) King Mackerel. The number of permits they give out depends on how the population is doing and the fishing pressure of the area; there are seasonal and trip limits, along with sizing regulations.
We spoke to Jessica Blizzard, an avid saltwater angler from Maryland who recently caught a 50lb 52” King Mackerel on a fishing charter this past weekend (see picture above)! While fishing out of the Outer Banks, anglers need to follow the North Carolina Saltwater Fishing Aware Program rules and regulations. Her catch exceeded the 30lb/45” minimum size limit for North Carolina, therefore, they were able to fill their freezer this last weekend with some amazing tasting fish.
Jessica said that the most exciting part about fishing for King Mackerels is the fact that you get to use live bait to do it. Prior to fishing for the Kings, you have to catch baitfish which requires the use of a cast net along with accuracy and arm strength. After catching the bait needed, they headed to the “fishing spot” about 15 miles offshore to catch these silver-bellied fish. A common way to fish for Kings is to troll and put the bait at different depths, safe to say the tactic worked for Jess. This is the perfect time of year for anglers on the East Coast to fish for King Mackerels because the population migrates through the area during the Fall months. They are large fish which make for a good fight but even better eating!