Tips For King Mackerel Fishing From The Beach

One of the great things about living along the Texas Gulf Coast is the abundant fishing opportunities it provides. King Mackerel fishing is a prime example. Typically you fish for king mackerel offshore or nearshore by trolling or drifting.

There are times, however, when king mackerel venture close to shore and can be caught from the beach. When the blue water moves in close and the bait is cruising the surf, king mackerel follow. And when they do, you can catch them in a variety of ways from the beach. King mackerel fishing can also be great from the jetties and piers as well.

QUICK LOOK: King Mackerel Fishing from the Beach

King Mackerel fishing is an exciting sport wherever you choose to pursue them. But, tangling with these toothy torpedos from the beach takes it to a whole other level of adrenaline rush and difficulty. When bait schools are in close to the beach you can target them with large artificials like spoons, topwaters, and hard plastic swimbaits. Or, cast live baits with your long rods and hang on for those drag-screaming runs. If you want to get in there with them, try trolling baits just outside the breakers parallel to the beach from your kayak, and get ready to go for a ride. 😉

You can catch King mackerel fishing from the beach while casting artificials around bait schools in the surf, on long rods using live or cut baits set in deep holes or guts along the beach, or even by trolling the surf zone in your kayak. And, when the Kings are running, you can get in on the action from the jetties and piers too. Whatever method you choose, hold on because big king mackerel can take you and your gear for a ride. 😉

King Mackerel Fishing

Typically, King Mackerel, aka Kingfish, migrate in pursuit of warm waters and abundant baitfish. They move northward along the Atlantic coast, and Gulf of Mexico, in the summer and head back south when the water cools. They are usually found hanging around offshore rigs, shrimpers, and other structure.

These aggressive predators prefer to feed on smaller fish like sardines, mullet, blue runners, and anchovies. When king mackerel are actively feeding it can be fast and furious. They will even leap out of the water chasing bait.

With lightning-fast strikes, fishing for king mackerel is exciting, strenuous, and tough on you and your equipment. Once you tangle with these fish, you will realize the importance of the right gear.

Gear Essentials for King Mackerel Fishing from the Beach

King Mackerel fishing from the beach requires some specialized gear to improve your odds. And, it will vary depending on the fishing methods you plan on using. If you will be casting artificials from the beach, then you will need a medium-heavy action rod of 8-10ft with a high-capacity saltwater spinning or casting reel spooled with a 30-pound class line.

You need a strong rod with a lot of backbone, and a reel with a powerful and smooth drag to hold up to the screaming runs of a large king mackerel. You will also need a steel leader between your line and your lures as king mackerel will cut you off in an instant.

Your best bet for artificials is large spoons, big topwaters, or swim baits that imitate baitfish. These same lures will work well if you will be trolling the surf zone in your kayak or you can use natural baits.

You will want to use shorter stouter trolling rods when fishing for king mackerel out of a kayak. Long rods make it difficult to land the fish in a kayak. Using a kayak allows you to cover more water, and once locate a school of king mackerel, it is much easier to stay with the school as they move down the beach.

If you will be casting and setting live, or cut natural baits from the beach to catch king mackerel your standard 10 -12 ft heavy surf casting gear will work fine. Make sure your reels are spooled with at least 300 yds of line as king mackerel strikes are reel screamers.

For that reason, I prefer a high-quality monofilament line when fishing for king mackerel. The stretch in monofilament helps absorb the shock of the strike avoiding pulled hooks or broken gear.

On terminal tackle – strong, sharp hooks matched to the size of the bait used are a must. Wire leaders are a must to prevent cutoffs from sharp teeth. A variety of weights maintain the bait in the strike zone amidst waves and currents whether trolling from your kayak or casting and setting the long rods.

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Bait Selection King Mackerel Fishing from the Beach

Success in surf fishing for King Mackerel often hinges on the bait you use. The main choices at your disposal are live bait, fresh dead bait, and artificial lures. Each has its advantages. But, you can’t “match the hatch” any better than with live bait. Artificial lures, on the other hand, offer durability, can be reused, and allow you to spend more time fishing and less time rebaiting.

When it comes to natural baits, King Mackerel prefer smaller forage fish like blue runners, mullet, sardines, or cigar minnows. In the surf, you find king mackerel most often chasing schools of mullet along the beachfront.

For artificial lures, silver spoons, large topwater plugs, and hard plastic swim baits that imitate the flash and movement of baitfish work well. I wouldn’t recommend soft plastic baits because, while they will catch king mackerel, these toothy critters pretty much destroy them.

The way you present your bait can be just as important as the bait itself. Mackerel are fast, aggressive feeders, so a slow and steady retrieve may not do the trick. Instead, try a retrieve that mimics a wounded baitfish: irregular and with bursts of speed.

This erratic behavior triggers the predatory instincts of the King Mackerel, often resulting in a powerful strike that sends the fish and your bait airborne. Which can be really exciting when you’re in the middle of the action in a kayak. 😉

Tips and Techniques for King Mackerel Fishing in the Surf

A crucial element in surf fishing is distance. When casting baits from the beach, you want to be sure your cast reaches the far troughs and sandbars where King Mackerel hunt. Use longer rods to leverage distance and high-capacity long-casting reels. A well-executed, long-distance cast can make a big difference in king mackerel fishing from the beach.

Once your baits are set, be sure to check your drag setting. King Mackerel are known for their high-speed aggressive strikes. A drag that’s set too tight can lead to broken lines, bent hooks, or damage to your rod or reel.

You want to try and find a balance where the drag is firm enough to hook the fish, yet forgiving enough to absorb its initial run. Be prepared for a fight; these fish are strong and fast. Landing a King Mackerel from the beach requires a certain finesse. Use the waves to your advantage, reeling in as the fish rides a wave toward the shore.

Be aware of the surf, and avoid getting knocked down by a wave or pulled into a dangerous rip current. If you will be wading in the surf ALWAYS WEAR A PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICE. That goes doubly for those fishing the surf from a kayak.

Once landed, use pliers to remove the hook to avoid those razor-sharp teeth. They can remove a finger in a flash. If you will be keeping the fish for the dinner table, get it on ice as quickly as possible. If you will be releasing the fish, take some good photos and, then holding it by the tail in the water, revive the fish until it starts to swim away on its own.

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Cleaning and Cooking King Mackerel

King Mackerel has a rich flavor that can be prepared in several ways. Loaded with beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids, it can be grilled, fried, smoked, in stews and chowders, or even ceviche and fish dip. They are larger fish and relatively easy to clean with firm filets.

  1. Cleaning King Mackerel: You can fillet King mackerel as normal, cut it into steaks, or make king mackerel balls for frying.
  2. Some Methods of Cooking King Mackerel:
    • Grilling or Baking: Use Italian seasonings, breadcrumbs, and provolone cheese to complement its natural flavors.\
    • Fried: Soaked in a mixture of buttermilk and yellow mustard then battered and fried with your favorite fish batter.
    • Smoking: Brine the fillets with salt, sugar, and herbs/spices for at least 8 hours before smoking.
    • Poaching: Simmer the fillet in white wine or vegetable broth for about 5 minutes until cooked through.

Final Thoughts on King Mackerel Fishing from the Beach

King mackerel fishing from the beach, from a kayak, from a pier, or a boat offshore can be fast and furious action. And, if cleaned and prepared right, some very good table fare. When the conditions are right and the Kings are busting the bait schools within casting distance of the beaches, jetties, and piers, grab your gear and get ya some.

As always, stay safe, enjoy the journey and please try to leave it cleaner than you found it. If you have any comments, questions, ideas, or suggestions please leave them in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you ASAP. You can follow us on Facebook: Rex The Beach Angler, Instagram: thebeachangler7, Twitter: @AnglerBeach, and YouTube: Man Art Creations.

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