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Targeting Smoker King Mackerel

By Capt. Gus Cane

Smaller king mackerel often called “snakes” are not difficult to catch. They are both abundant and cooperative. Big trophy kings, or smokers since many end up on the smoking grill, are another story, however. Once these fish exceed the 40-pound mark, they are a wary adversary and challenging catch. Successful anglers know the secret to finding them is to find the food source and to do that requires focusing on structure.

Targeting Smoker King Mackerel

Concentrate on depths ranging from 100 to 250 feet. Natural and artificial reefs, rocks, ledges, and oil or gas rigs in the Gulf are all prime places to collect live bait like blue runners, cigar minnows, bluefish, and silver seatrout. Sabiki rigs or small casting spoons are the best ways to load up a live well full of these baits. Two other favorites—menhaden or pogies and ribbonfish—can be cast-netted in the brackish back bays and bayous.

Drifting live or fresh dead baits from a stationary boat (anchored or tied off to structure) is a popular method when bait is in the vicinity. Slow trolling is the other, by slowly bumping the engines in and out of gear to mimic natural movement and cover the maximum amount of water. Yamaha’s new 5.6L V8 XTO Offshore® outboards are well suited for this endeavor. In addition to tremendous power and the fuel efficiency to cover more than a hundred miles of open water, these direct fuel-injection four-strokes are overbuilt for the rigors of hardcore fishing. Design features like the dual overhead camshafts, carbon-coated valve lifters, dual chamber oil pumps, and two-stage water pumps all ensure redundancy and reliability miles offshore.

Because of sharp teeth and a king’s propensity for chopping tails off in short strikes, light wire leader is critical. Many rigs incorporate a small, stout J-hook through the nose of the bait with a  trailing section wire leader and a treble hook embedded in the tail. Bronze or coffee-colored terminal tackle cuts down on detection. Small skirts, called king dusters, are often threaded in front of the nose hook to add color and to help prevent the bait from washing out.

Targeting Smoker King Mackerel

Big smoker kings are also known for violent strikes, sometimes launching completely out of the water and powerful initial runs taking 100 yards of line or more. Because of this, lightweight conventional or spinning reels with large line capacities are necessary. Matching rods should have plenty of backbone in the butt section yet softer tips to absorb the shock of the strike.

Landing a trophy king requires teamwork, too. The helmsman must be ready to change directions quickly in anticipation of sudden moves. The angler fights the fish, while the gaff man gets in position behind the angler once the fish is finally within range. Other crew members can help clear the cockpit or tend additional rods, as multiple hookups are common. Once the fish is gaffed and hoisted aboard, it should be immediately placed in an iced fish box or cooler bag to avoid injury and minimize weight loss and mess aboard the boat.

Visit Yamaha Outboards.com to Learn More.

Original Source; Sportsmans Lifestyle.com

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