Offshore and nearshore King Mackerel fishing is a great part of our fishing sport. They provide a great fight, this toothy adversary, but in most cases is great to eat. King Mackerel is also one of the more competitive species found in saltwater fishing today. Thanks to organizations like the Southern Kingfish Association (SKA), fishing for Kings offers a tournament trail for anglers to compete for the big winnings and recognition. We recently sat down with Captain Eris Jones of Backlash Charters, the 2015 SKA National Champion. We wanted to learn how important boat handling skills are to the success of catching the big smoker King Mackerel that is found on the competitive tour. Here’s what he had to say.
“Catching a competitive size King requires focus on a few key factors. First is being ready when the King strikes. This means ready to start the sometimes chaotic process of getting the fish to the boat. You position the boat in a way so the angler can fight the fish from the bow of the boat. This area is more open and free of the lines that have yet been cleared or recovered. Pointing the bow of the boat towards the hooked fish is the where you want to go. This also allows you to be able to follow the fish during the fight and minimize the amount of line the King takes. Remember the more line the fish takes the stronger his ability to pull and the more line you’ll need to recover before the fish comes to the boat. While this is taking place, recover all the lines that are still in the water starting with the lines nearest the boat such as the downrigger lines. These can definitely cause problems with tangles when the gaffing process begins. It’s also a good idea to leave at least one bait in the water in the event another King is lurking nearby. Now, the process of getting the fish to the boat begins. Keeping the boat pointed towards the fish while the angler maintains tension on the drag, start moving toward your King. It’s important NOT to allow too much drag on the fish. King Mackerel have a soft mouth and too much tension will allow the hook to pull through the fish’s flesh. As you gain ground have the other team member get ready with the gaff, but not get in the way of the angler. Once you get the fish to the boat it will likely sound (go deep) one last time on what’s known as the death spiral. When it returns to the surface be ready with the gaff. “
The handling of your boat when fighting a King Mackerel is key to your success. It requires a plan and good teamwork to avoid the many opportunities for the fish to escape. Pulled hooks and tangled lines are a common problem without that plan. A fish darting in the wrong direction without a change in the boat’s direction can also put the angler in a tough position to bring the fish to the boat. Fighting the fish from the bow of a center console is far easier than fighting around the crowded stern or around a T-top. Great boat handling is the difference in catching a few Kings, to taking home a 50+ pound smoker and the SKA National Championship.
Submitted By: Captain Eris Jones