KINGS OF A DIFFERENT COURT
KAYAK FISHING FOR KING MACKEREL
Tarpon may get all the hype, but don’t overlook the appeal of targeting Kingfish by beach-launched kayak.
Unlike other portions of Florida’s coastline, we have relatively shallow waters, extending miles from the surf zone. This precludes the the opportunity available to our neighbors down south — to float out just a few miles and target pelagic fish like Mahi, wahoo, and sailfish. While we don’t have easy access to the blue waters of the Gulf Stream, there’s still some incredible fishing to be had from a beach-launched kayak on the Space Coast.
For instance, it’s now pretty common knowledge that the Space Coast is a great place to tackle huge tarpon from a beach-launched kayak during the summer months. Ranging in size from 80 – 150 lb, these monster fish migrate just off of our coast, so it’s no surprise why tarpon command all the attention from the kayak fishing crowd. Even in a more conventional fishing boat, these massive fish present a serious challenge to both the angler and their tackle. The ante is upped significantly when attempting to take them on from a beach-launched kayak, setting up for an intense battle with an incredible finish. Every diehard angler wants that classic “grip and grin” photo with a massive Silver King!
The shallow and relatively bait-filled waters off Brevard’s coast is tailor-made not only for tarpon to feast on their way north for the summer, but also another shallow-water King — the King Mackerel (kingfish). Kingfish are a target that should not be overlooked by those hitting the coastal waters this summer, and that is especially true for the kayak-bound anglers. Often times, the kingfish bite from the surf line to a few miles out will rival the bite seen on our reefs that are miles offshore.
Another big daddy kingfish caught by kayak off the beach.
Rigging up for Kings
Bait fish prevalence will be a large piece of this puzzle, just as it will come into play with the summer tarpons. Slow trolling live baits found in the areas you are fishing or even “imported” is a time tested method to hook a kingfish, and the modern fishing kayaks we all use excel in this fashion of fishing.
The standard live bait stinger rig is simple and should be readily at any quality tackle shop; also, a quick internet search will have you swimming in instructional videos on how to tie it. Literally, any live bait will work, though I prefer Pogie, Treadfin, and large mullet — in that order. With any luck, our pogie (Atlantic Menhaden) pods will appear and provide ample easy bait while also holding more predators nearby. Areas of bait and activity are your typical productive spots as we do not have much for reefs close in to focus on. Color changes can also pay off well.
Kingfish are no slouch in the fight department and many of the ones you find in the coastal areas are of the larger variety at 20lb and bigger. With that size of king, line capacity is your only concern. I like to run conventional setups in the 20lb class, but you can get this job done with a quality spinning outfit in the 6500 class or larger.
Where to Launch
Some of the best beaches to launch your kayak for this action are Playalinda, Indialantic, Satellite, and Cocoa Beach. Most of those areas, with the exception of Cocoa Beach, should have minimal boat traffic and plentiful bait opportunities. The Port Canaveral area can be tempting, and certainly fishy at times, however, the boat traffic can and will be very heavy on the calmer days that are needed for us to be comfortable in kayaks.
Just like kayaks play to an advantage with their ease of launch in lagoon areas and ability to access waters far from a traditional ramp. The beach-launched kayak can and should play to the same advantage. Have you ever driven a boat from Port Canaveral to the productive waters just off Playalinda? Its 30 some odd miles! Drop your yak in there and your chances of seeing a boat are slim.
The only way to cap off a double hookup! Double fisted kill shot…
The Time is NOW!
May/June is what I consider the start of our beach-launch kayak season on the Space Coast for several reasons. For one, the seas settle and the calm days tend to outnumber the rough ones (unless a tropical system is in the work). Just as importantly, the prevalence of bait and predators as the water temperatures rise give us a healthy chance at some great fishing. The time to tangle up with some kings on the beach is now, so if the weather permits, launch your kayak from the beach and get in on the action!
Don’t Have A Kayak?
If you don’t have a fishing kayak, you may be in luck, because Cocoa Beach Surf Co. is giving one away right here on Spacefish. One randomly drawn winner will get their choice of free kayak from three great options: