John's Journal...

Catching Summer King Mackerel with Captain Mike Parker in Destin, Florida

Bump-and-Go Trolling

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Captain Mike Parker of the charter boat, the “Silver King,” headquartered in Destin, Florida, enjoys fishing for mackerel.

Up until a few years ago anglers caught king mackerel with one of three methods on the Upper Gulf Coast. They could fish with live bait over wrecks or off piers. Or, they could troll large featheClick to enlarger dusters with cigar minnows hooked beneath the feather dusters. Or, a fisherman could troll a large spoon and possibly trail it with a small jig. In many parts of the Gulf of Mexico today, anglers still only use these three tactics to catch kings. These trolling tactics allow an angler to cover more water and catch more kings in the 12- to 18-pound range. The large-bait technique means an angler has to stay in one place to fish,which translates into fewer bites. However, generally a fisherman can catch large king mackerel. Fishermen view the live-bait tactic as a trophy-king strategy and the trolling method as a way to catch numbers of kings.

Although no one really knows how live-bait trolling with downriggers for king mackerel hasevolved in the Destin area, many anglers guess that snowbirds who retired to Destin brought the downriggers with them. Anglers in the Great Lakes region have used downriggers and live bait for many years. At first fishermen used downriggers and kept their boats in gear while trolling slowly. However, today Destin anglers have modified this tactic, known as bump-and-goClick to enlarge, to catch bigger kings in deep water. "When we troll like this, we'll have our motors running as slowly as possible," Parker commented. "We'll put the motor in gear and then take it out of gear to move the boat slowly across the area we want to fish." When Parker's using this technique to fish for really big kings, he'll usually put out two fly-lines and fish with two downriggers. He explains that "We'll lower the downrigger ball to a depth of 30 or 40 feet, and instead of 20-pound-test line, I'll use 30-pound test monofilament." Parker rigs the bait the same way he does for fly-pole fishing but will have 15 to 20 feet of line coming from the downrigger ball to the baited hook. When the king mackerel attacks the bait on the downrigger, the line will pop out of the clip that holds it close to the ball on the downriClick to enlargegger. Then the angler can fight the king mackerel in the open water, uninhibited by thedownrigger ball.

"When a king mackerel attacks the downrigger bait, it will immediately start pulling off drag," Parker commented. "At that point, I'll have my fisherman take the rod out of the rod holder and begin fighting the king mackerel, while I reel up the downrigger ball and get it in the boat. If you don't get your downrigger out of the way when a king mackerel starts coming to the boat, you often will wrap the line around the downrigger ball and break it off." Parker uses this bump-and-go tactic with the downriggers when he fishes over a bottom 80- to 100-feet below him. King mackerel, a pelagic or free-swimming fish, still will concentrate around any type of bottom structure because that structure holds the baitfish on which the king mackerel feed.

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

Tomorrow: Plugging for Kings

Check back each day this week for more about "Catching Summer King Mackerel with Captain Mike Parker in Destin, Florida"

Day 1: Feeding-Frenzied Kings
Day 2: Fly Lining for Mackerel
Day 3: Bump-and-Go Trolling
Day 4: Plugging for Kings
Day 5: The Mack’s Comeback


Entry 464, Day 3