They don’t call them “king” for nothing. As the biggest and meanest member of the mackerel family, it’s good to be king. Smaller kings are called snakes, big kings are called smokers; the IGFA World Record, caught off San Juan, Puerto Rico, weighed 93 pounds. King mackerel hunt subtropical and tropical waters around the world, but the coast of Florida and the Gulf States are prime grounds for kayak anglers. These two pros are kings of the kings.
Hot water, swift current and plenty of bait make Florida a haven for big kings. Pro guide Austin Collins fishes from Broward to Palm Beach for kings and more. Big, open water requires a seaworthy kayak, Collins chooses a 13-foot-long and 32-inch wide Viking Pro Fish. “I need a kayak that is fast,” he says, “we might cover many miles on any day.”
“The easiest way to catch a king is slow troll a live google eye at dawn,” he says. Collins rigs the live bait on a double hook stinger rig. He uses #4 to #6 single-strand wire and 3/0 to 5/0 lead J-hook and #4 to #6 treble trailer. “Adjust the size of hooks and length of wire to match the size of the bait,” he adds.
He also targets kings with a vertical jig. “A 100- to 150-gram Jimmy Jig is deadly,” he says, adding that he’ll bump up to a 225-gram Cancun Candy when the fish are holding deep or the current is ripping.
Trolling and jigging require a fast reel and limber pole. Collins uses Accurate’s 500 XGS with a super-fast 6:1 retrieve ratio. Kings will dump line fast then turn and run at the angler just as fast. Light drag and hard cranking are the only way to keep up with one of these speed demons. “Don’t horse the...