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John's Journal... Entry 217, Day 4


Catch The Kings

Editor's Note: You'll find October the best time to go salt-water fishing with children in school, and most people thinking about football and hunting season starting, the beaches generally become deserted. Each fall in October, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach on Alabama's Gulf Coast host the annual Shrimp Festival, featuring food, fun and fishing for me and my family as well as the opportunity to hear bands playing all types of music and to view artwork, sculptures and crafts for free.

One of the advantages of taking an 8-, 10-, or 12-hour charter out of Orange Beach, Alabama, this month is that you can catch a wide variety of fish. Most anglers prefer to take snapper first, then triggerfish, and then either amberjack or king mackerel.

However, you can double-down on king mackerel, if you fish with live bait or even dead bait and use spinning tackle. Most captains will let you cast a live bait out off the back of the boat so the live bait can free-swim down toward the reef. At this time of the year, big king mackerel often will be swarming above artificial reefs and wrecks and looking for bait. While some of the fishermen catch snapper and grouper, others can have a lot of fun catching king mackerel on light tackle.

When a big king takes a live bait (I've also caught them on whole dead cigar minnows) and begins to strip off drag, you'll usually have a fight on your hands. Often a big king will run 30 to 40 yards before it begins to slow down. Trying to stop the charge of the king rather than letting it get tired is one of the biggest mistakes most fishermen make. If you attempt to stop the king mackerel when it makes its first or second run by tightening up on your drag, more than likely you'll break the king off. Just let the fish run, and plan to take your time reeling. Half the fun of fishing is in the fight, so don't be in a hurry to boat your king. Get your drag set properly. The more line the king mackerel takes out, the better your chances of reeling it in and landing it. Also the further the king turns away from the boat, the more time you'll have for the other 12 miles, you have a good chance of catching a king mackerel that may weigh 20 to 40 pounds. Some of the biggest king mackerel in the Gulf of Mexico will be caught during October.

The king mackerel is a delicious fish to eat, too, if properly prepared. Although it can be cooked any way that you prepare any other type of fish, there are a few secrets for cooking a king.
* Remember the king mackerel is an oily fish and can have a very-fishy taste. However, if you soak the king mackerel filets in 7-Up and icy water overnight, the 7-Up will help pull that oil out of the fish and will give the meat a sweeter taste.
* Cook king mackerel by cutting across the fish, creating round steaks about 2-inches thick. I marinate the king mackerel steaks for about 2 to 3 hours in Zesty Italian Dressing. Then I put the king mackerel steaks on the grill. Once I turn the steaks, I then squeeze lemon on top of each side, and try not to overcook the steaks.
* Smoke king mackerel. Because the meat is a little oily, king mackerel doesn't dry out like most other fish do when they are smoked.
* Use leftovers. I always try to cook more king mackerel than I know I'm going to eat at one time. I take the leftover king mackerel and crumble it up with my fingers. Then I add mayonnaise, chopped pickles, chopped onions and a squeeze or two of fresh lemon and mix all these ingredients with my crumbled-up king mackerel to make a fish spread. This fish spread can be served as an hors d'oeuvre, but I like to eat it either on crackers or just like you do tuna fish, between two pieces of white bread. To be honest, I like the king mackerel fish spread as well, if not better, than I like the king mackerel steaks.

For more information on fishing in the Orange Beach/Gulf Shores area, call Stacey Tatum at (877) 783-3474, e-mail jmurphy@gulftel.com. or go to www.alabamadeepseafishing.com. Also, contact the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitor's Bureau at (800) 745-7263 or go to www.alabamatravel.org or www.orangebeach.com.




Check back each day this week for more about FISHING AT ORANGE BEACH - THE SALT-WATER FISHING CAPITAL ...

Day 1 - Charter-Boat Fishing At Orange Beach
Day 2 - October Salt-Water Fishing
Day 3 - Fishing On Orange Beach
Day 4 - Catch The Kings
Day 5 - Bet On The Jacks And Other Salt-Water Fish

John's Journal