Kingfish deserve all the attention they receive. High speeds, hard hits, and freezers full of meat leave anglers dreaming of coming days. With Kingfish season right around the corner, we’re here to fill you in on the details of how to catch or at least enjoy one of our favorite times of the year.
Kingfish are among the most sought-after gamefish in the subtropics. Ranging from the Carolinas to the coasts of Florida, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a seaside community that doesn’t celebrate the run with tournaments.
Ranging in size from thirty to ninety pounds, they run the coasts at speeds of forty-eight miles per hour. Although they can be found at depths of forty feet or more, and graciously visit the inshore waters of Tampa Bay to breed. Those running offshore can find them at Gulf Stream depths of five-hundred feet or more.
Defined by their mackerel-like appearance, gray color scheme, and rugged mouths of teeth, you’ll be hard-pressed to mistake them for any other. If their appearance does not convince you, the sheer might at the end of your line will have you quickly understanding why we “bow to the King.”
Gear & Location
If you’re planning on gearing up for Kingfish season, you’ll want to invest in some steel leader and treble hooks. You’ll also want to acquire the proper bait. Local bait shops offer threadfins, sardines, squid, and jacks for trolling to attract these opportunistic predators.
You’ll find Kingfish roaming the outskirts of Terra Ceia Bay as well as the Skyway Bridge and beach lines surrounding us. Knowing they come so close to home makes it extremely tempting to rent a boat, a charter, or even a day on the Skyway Bridge for luck’s sake.
A short jaunt up the road, out to the beaches, or into Terra Ceia Bay will have you smack-dab in the middle of Kingfish territory. You’ll find no shortage of anglers out there hoping to hit the jackpot right along-side you.
Season and Regulation
Although Kingfish season is open year-round here in Manatee County, we mostly see them from October – November, and March – April. These are ideal times to visit Florida post-rainy-season and pre-summer heat. Being familiar with a park like ours will provide the opportunity to park it for just this sort of stay.
Kingfish must be 24″ to the fork length to keep, and you’re allowed three per harvester. For updated regulations and size limits, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife website.
Similar to Spanish Mackerel, Kingfish is edible. Their high-fat content provides meat that absorbs flavor well and holds up to grilling, baking, frying, or smoking. One of our favorite recipes is this smoked fish recipe which is simple yet full of flavor. To watch a video demonstration, click here.
If fishing isn’t your thing, but your interest is peaked, you can find local tournaments, weigh-ins, and seafood markets with a simple Google search. Call us today to learn about availability during this year’s Kingfish season and take a chance at becoming King of the Beach!