King Mackerel: Scomberomorus cavalla


  • Color ranges from black iridescent to bluish green with silvery sides
  • The body is streamlined with a tapered head
  • No black pigment present on the front of the first dorsal fin
  • The lateral line starts high and drops sharply below the second dorsal fin
  • Young fish often have yellowish spots, similar to the Spanish mackerel


King mackerel are found both nearshore and offshore, often around piers.  They may occasionally be found in deep water.


Kings are schooling fish that migrate from south Florida waters in winter northward in spring. They spawn offshore in mid-summer.

State Record:

90 lb, caught near Key West

Fishing Tips and Facts:

Kings feed on small fish and squid and take both natural and artificial baits. Live baits include pogies, herring, Spanish sardine, ballyhoo, and mullet. Lures should be flashy sub-surface lures or large fish-like plugs. Use 20-pound line and tackle, or heavier for larger kings, with a wire or mono leader.

Additional Information:

Image Credit: © Diane Rome Peebles

FWC Facts:
All vessels must be equipped with an effective sound-muffling device.

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