King mackerel make a comeback

CorrespondentOctober 31, 2012 

For North Carolina’s ocean communities, there are seasonally important fish species that bring anglers to the coast. Sea mullet and blues in the spring, Spanish and flounder in the summer and speckled trout and spots in the fall.

For the big fish hunters, cobia, dolphin, and the billfish are highlighted in the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament. From spring into the fall, the king mackerel fuels many local and popular tournaments.

The past few years, according to Capt. Joe Shute of Fish Finder Charters in Atlantic Beach, king mackerel catches “have been awful slow and few and far between.”

Capt. Roy Heverly of Emerald Isle Adventures in Emerald Isle agreed.

“We had a couple weeks in the summer where they’d been good,” said Heverly. “They would show up but they would be gone as soon as they would show up.”

Heverly said bait wasn’t a problem.

“There were a lot of bait balls, schools of menhaden this summer that were right on the beach and we were expecting kings to be right in there, and they just were not,” he said.

Shute said the problem is cyclical. “It’s just got to be a cycle they’re in,” he said, “because we had bait, we had the water.”

“But just when we were least expecting it they just all of a sudden showed up here.”

The fall king bite “… has been good, real good,” Heverly said recently, before superstorm Sandy rolled by. “So it’s definitely been a good fall so far.”

Bogue Inlet has been a prime spot for king mackerel.

“The bait’s just been stacked up over all the structures from the beach all the way out 10 to 15 miles,” said Heverly, “so you can pretty much take your pick on where you want to fish and we’ve had a lot of good kings in just about all the different areas.”

If you take your boat out of Beaufort Inlet, Shute suggests a variety of hot spots.

“One day we had a real good day along the beach fishing artificial reef AR-315,” he said. “The next day we were about 12 miles off the beach over some live bottom out there around the AR-330 boxcar area, and then recently they’ve been at Northwest Places.

“And I just got a report of two gentleman that the two of them got their limit of kings (three each) in about an hour and a half in 30 feet of water here on the beach.”

Not only have the fish been plentiful, but these are quality fish weighing from the mid-teens to low 40-pound range, with most 15 to 25 pounds.

Shute and Heverly slow troll with live menhaden on standard two treble hook live-bait king rigs.

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