Pier anglers catch many king mackerel, including trophies
Fishermen try their luck for king mackerel from almost every pier along the North Carolina coast. On Oak Island, the meat of the pier king season runs from roughly the first of May to the end of October.
Oak Island’s piers enjoy a reputation as king mackerel magnets. It is well known throughout south Atlantic states. Typically, this area sees a spring run, a run or maybe two during the summer and then a fall run. Anglers catch the biggest kings during the spring runs, but they have decked more citation (30-pound) kings during the fall. In several years, piers have reported more than 200 fish at each pier.
The record pier kings all surpass 50 pounds. The heaviest is a 53-pound, 6-ounce king that Bo Crump caught at Ocean Crest Pier on May 7, 1998. Chuck Huthmacher caught the 50-pound king that is the record for Oak Island Pier, then called the Yaupon Beach Pier, on April 15, 2002. Long Beach Pier was removed in 2006, so Kathy Davis’ pier record of 53 pounds, 3 ounces from April 27, 1991, won’t be broken. Davis also holds the Women’s IGFA 8 KG class record for that king.
In the early years, the U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament also had a pier division. But because of logistics issues, organizers cancelled this event.
Kings may show up at any time, but the numbers are usually the highest in the fall when bait is present all along the beach.
Pier fishermen use two rods. One is an anchor line to position live baits where they won’t tangle. The other is to fight the fish. Kings usually hit and run offshore when they feel the hooks. The angler has to wear the fish down and then lead it back to the pier, through other fishing lines, to where it can be gaffed and hoisted to the pier. Catching a king from a pier is exhilarating and intense. Anglers have no time to relax, and multiple opportunities for something to go wrong.