Catching Summer King Mackerel with Captain Mike Parker in Destin, Florida
The depth finder showed a strong marking on the natural bottom in the calm water 10 miles to the east of Destin, Florida. Captain Mike Parker of the charter boat the "Silver King," told his anglers to, "Let em down." As the fishermen lowered their baits to the bottom in hopes of catching red snapper, Parker baited a live cigar minnow on a hook and used spinning tackle to cast the bait about 20 yards from the boat. When the bait hit the water, and before the cigar minnow could swim down 6 inches, an 18-pound king mackerel took the bait.
"While one angler started winding on that fish, I made up another king-mackerel rig and cast it out," Parker commented. "Before the slack in the line straightened, another king mackerel attacked. As fast as we could rig lines and get bait out, we were having Big Mack attacks." As the minutes flew by, the feeding frenzy became more intense. The excited anglers could see the king mackerel through the clear water as the fish shot upward like arrows and flew skyward, leaping out of the water 3 to 4 feet with the cigar minnows in their mouths. The fish hit so hard and so viciously that Parker instructed his anglers, "Don't set the hook; let the fish set the hook." With the king mackerel fishing as hot as a Fourth of July firecracker, each fish would pull out 30 yards of line before the drag slowed the charge of the smoking king. "The mackerel generally would made three or four runs before they came in to the boat," Parker said. "They are one of the most exciting fish we catch in the Panhandle of Florida."
The caught king mackerel averaged 20-pounds each. With a party of six, Parker and his crew reached their two-fish-per-person limit in about 20 minutes. But due to the fast and furious action, the anglers continued to catch and release the feeding-frenzied kings for another hour and a half. “Anywhere you locate natural-bottom structure or big-steel structure in the water like sunken ships or oil and gas platforms, you'll usually discover king mackerel along the Upper Gulf Coast,” Parker explained. Along the Upper Gulf Coast, anglers fortunately can fish all three stories of the water and usually catch snapper and grouper on or near the bottom. In the middle story of the water, you'll generally find triggerfish and amberjack, and then king mackerel and mangrove snapper in the top story. Although all species will feed from the bottom to the surface, and many anglers have taken big snapper less than 20-feet below the boat, generally you'll find each of the three stories of water the most productive for different types of fish. A wise captain will have anglers fishing in all three stories of water when bottom fishing.
To learn more about king-mackerel fishing around Destin, Florida, and/or to book a trip with Mike Parker, write to Parker at 827 Kell-Aire Ct, Destin, FL, 32541; call him at (850) 837-2028; or, visit the website at www.destincharterboats.com">.
Tomorrow: Fly Lining for Mackerel