Finding and Catching Big Fall Kings
Fall fishing is the best time of year for nearly every type of species. It’s particularly good for King Mackerel fishing. This is proven by the presence of the national King Mackerel tournaments that take place in the Carolinas in the fall. Events like the Southern Kingfish Nationals in Morehead City, and the Annual U.S. Open King Mackerel tournament that is held in Southport, NC. With that in mind we sat down with 2015 SKA champion, Captain Eris Jones to get his tips on how to take advantage of the fall window of great King fishing on the Carolina coast. His fundamental key tactics will help you fish like a tournament champion.
The first step to a great day of King Mackerel fishing is to check out the latest fishing info with your information network. This network can be made up of your fishing buddies, your local tackle shop and the social media posts of other fishermen. This will give you an idea of where to start and what the conditions are. Don’t always expect actual locations, but sometimes you might get lucky. This network can be a great source of info on bait choices, and distance from the beach.
The next step is the bait. This part proves that King fishing takes a bit of preparation. Buying dead bait is sometimes needed if bait is scarce, but live bait is nearly always preferred. The last thing you want to do is leave the dock hoping to find live bait with no back up plan, so make sure that you have ample frozen cigar minnows in the cooler, just in case. Another part of the pre-fishing prep is catching the bait ahead of time. This means going out the day or days before and catching pogies and other live baitfish and placing them in a pen to be used on fishing day. This allows you to make sure that you have live bait without having to spend time chasing bait when you could be chasing those big Kings. Another step is to pull out the trusty sabiki rig and start catching Pinfish, live Cigar Minnows and Greenies for your bait.
I rig my bait multiple ways. Some with skirts and some without. I use different colors depending on the water clarity. In the fall I increase the size of my line from 15 to 20 pound test to 25 pound. This is due to fact that the Kings are bigger in the fall and on the outside chance that I may hook up on a Sailfish or Wahoo that many be mixed in.
Now you’ve got the latest intel from your information network and you’ve got plenty of the bait in the boat and you’re heading out the inlet to start the stalking process. Based on the intel you head to the offshore rocks and artificial reefs that show promise. Once there you notice that you’re not catching any of the smaller Kings and think you need to change locations to start seeing some action……not yet. The absence of smaller Kings can mean that the smoker Kings are in the area. With King Mackerel being somewhat territorial the big ones rule the neighborhood.
It’s time to start catching. Start by listening to the radio and looking at nearby boats to see if they’re hooked up. King Mackerel is a sport of patience and sticking to the fundamentals. Just remember to troll as slow as you can go. The more time your lines stay in the water the higher percentage of success you’ll have. Just be ready. When that big smoker hits, be ready to move quickly. Clear the lines. Take the hooked-up rod to the bow of the boat and settle in for the fight.