The kings of October

Expect to see numerous big king mackerel caught along North Carolina’s southern coast as fall weather eases in.

October’s king mackerel fishing is fast and furious

When the water and air cool in October, the king mackerel action fires off big time along the southern N.C. Coast. Kings sense the approaching colder weather and begin feeding aggressively.

Even better, they’re available for all fishermen, with a bite that begins at the pier ends and extends offshore for 20 miles or more.

“I really like king fishing in October,” said Capt. Cane Faircloth of Ollie Raja Charters in Holden Beach (, 910-367-2998). “The mornings are cool enough to wear bibs and a hoodie while catching bait. But you’ll be in shorts and a T-shirt when the action heats up.

“The really hot action used to be a little earlier in the month. But over the past 10 years or so it has shifted a little and peaks more around the middle of the month. Once the water cools to around 72 degrees, king fishing can get almost magical.”

Faircloth said kings of all sizes are grouped together and feeding hard during October. They tend to move around in the general area of the inlets and along the beaches out through the Cape Fear River Channel to the Cape Fear Sea Buoy, the former location of the Sea Buoy, Lighthouse Rocks and the artificial reefs in this area.

Stay on the move

Faircloth said kings move with bait and clean water and may be in one location in the morning and another in the afternoon, but will usually be feeding.

Faircloth said the keys to finding the right spot are locating schools of bait and the right water. He said bait is easier to confirm as you can see it on the surface or fishfinder.

The best water has some green tint, but learning to read it can be difficult. When you don’t know, pick a spot and troll for a while. If kings are there, they’ll let you know.

“We usually slow troll live pogies, as many can be caught in a cast net and we can go fishing,” Faircloth said. “I use a 10-foot cast net and recommend fishermen learn to throw a larger net. Sometimes bait outruns smaller nets and it can be very frustrating.

“If the bluefish are in or if it’s a tournament and we’re concentrating on larger kings, we take the time to catch some bluefish for bait. Always carry some frozen cigar minnows in case there isn’t any bait that morning.”

Faircloth said to troll multiple surface lines at different distances behind the boat, with at least one line below the surface. If hungry kings are in the area, you’ll know pretty quickly.

About Jerry Dilsaver 1170 Articles
Jerry Dilsaver of Oak Island, N.C., a full-time freelance writer, is a columnist for Carolina Sportsman. He is a former SKA National Champion and USAA Angler of the Year.

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