More Tec Tips - King Mackerel

Well, the Texas International Fishing Tournament is over for yet another year and I didnít get bragging rights this year either. However, I did scare them with my long rod this year by coming in fifth place off the leader Jack Barton. This is the second year Jack has won the Bay Grand Champion honors and Kudos to him. Heís the first person to win Bay Grand Champion back-to-back. Kudos also to Tim Clancey from New Water Boat Works in San Antonio for winning First Place in the Fly Division. Guess who he was fishing with, yep Yours truly.

My topic for this month is going to be King Mackerel fishing. Our jetties are home to lots of them at this time of the year and I wanted to share some tips on catching these speedsters. First light seems to be the most fun for my clients. The trick here is understanding the fish. At first light on an incoming tide the kings are flushed and lured to the jetties along with the millions of baitfish that are pulled in with this same tide. So a light wind and calm seas make for easy fishing from my Shallow Sport Scooter. Kings and Spanish mackerel usually show up about the same time under this phenomenon and become easy pickins for the novice angler as well as the seasoned.

My favorite technique for targeting these guys is really simple. I use the same rods that I use on my bay charters. Ten pound test line tied to a thirty pound test leader of about 36"using a triple surgeons knot. You donít want any swivels in this rig, as the Spanish mackerel will bite at them during a fight with the other fish you have on. To this I tie on a steel leader of 60# test or so, the smaller the better at this end. All you want is something that the Mackerel canít cut through with his seriated scissor like teeth, which by the way will do a lot of damage to flesh as well. To the steel leader Iíll tie on, with a haywire twist, a Norton Bull Minnow with a 3/8th ounce jig head. You will need several of these baits as the teeth work over just about everyone you get a strike on, but Iím sure Norton wonít mind. The Bull Minnow seems to work best if itís a pearl with a chartreuses tail. The vibration form this bait as you retrieve it will trigger the strike. Now the trick here is at first light before all the other boats get out there and start trolling for them, is to retrieve it back as close to the surface as you can and at a medium fast retrieve. This is the fun part, when the strike happens it is usually straight up in the air and you whined up setting the hook in mid-air on the fish. Hopefully he wonít land on your 10#test line on his way back into the water.

Most of the time we will have to chase the fish for the first run but then we can settle down to a dead boat fight. The struggle should last about five to ten minutes, but if the fish gets foul hooked in the side of the face it may take a lot longer. When, and only when the fish is exhausted do I boat the fish with my hand by grabbing the tail and the 30# leader and sliding it into the boat. To remove the hook, I always use a pair of pliers. The last thing I need is my fingers that close to those teeth. In fact pliers arenít always long enough.

After first light and the boats start to troll around and close in, the fish will go down. Now you can still catch an occasional one with this method but they seem to bite better deeper. Hereís where the weight of the jig head comes into play. Cast out on the up wind side of the boat, if there is any, and let the Bull Minnow sink to the bottom. Start a jigging action by jerking up on the bait then hold your rod high as you let it fall back towards the bottom. The hits will always come on the fall as the bait sinks back down. So keep the line taunt as you let it back down so youíre ready to set the hook the instant you feel the hit.

We have caught and released so many kings with these two methods that my clients have literally called out UNCLE already. I think our half day record is 32 kings in the 7 to 20# range that we caught and released.

A few years ago we actually hooked and landed a sailfish with this technique right in the middle of about thirty boats about 50 yards off the end of the north jettie. How we were able to get that fish out of that mess and without tangles with other fisherman is beyond me. The fight progressed down the outside of the north jetties to a water depth of about 12 feet when we finally boated and released the fish an hour and a half later. We were about 100 yards from the beach of South Padre Island. Amazing things can happen when you have the right lure in the water.

Skipper Ray is a freelance writer and fishing guide in South Padre Island, Texas
where he owns and operate Island Outfitters. Call: 956-943-2798 or Email


Fishing Articles by Skipper Ray

Blind Casting the Flats
Catching and Handling Numbers of Trout
Fishing Guides Perspective
Fishing-Months
Effective Blind Casting on the Fly
Line Management Techniques
Lures of Choice for the Fall Season
More Tec Tips - King Mackerel
New Trout Techniques
Ready at the Rod
Spring is in the Air
Tarpon Techniques
Tech Tips - "Donít Give Up"
Tech Tips - Itís a Drag
The Ladies Have More Fun
The Chosen One
The "Ibis" Built by Newwater Boatworks
The Old Gold Spoon
Time to Fish Free
It's Red Fishing Time in South Padre
Trout Fishing the Lower Laguna Madre
Trout on Topwater Flies
Wading the Lower Laguna Madre


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