Holy Mackerel - How to Catch the Toothy Critter
Posted on 10 July 2012
Mackerel fishing slowed down a little with the arrival of tropical storm Betty but the bay is finally clearing up, and the salinity levels are stabilizing. When we are in-between moons and the tides aren’t right for reds and snook. You can typically rely on the Spanish mackerel to keep your drag singing your favorite tune. All you need is light spinning tackle, 1/0 long shank Mustad hooks, a chum bag and a well full of threadfins. I prefer incoming tides but mackerel will feed regardless if an easy meal presents itself.
Water flow is crucial, I like to locate a marker near the channel, because there is always an abundance of bait and the water is usually moving nicely. Deploy your chum bags and start cutting up little pieces of threadfins, dispersing them behind your slick. Sometimes, live bait works best, but often times you will find that the fish want cut bait. You can try chunking the bait but I notice a big difference in my strike rates, when I use a piece of filleted threadfin. I am not 100% sure why this is but I speculate it’s because of the low profile and movement that it makes when drifted.
The long shank hooks will help prevent cut offs but they will not eliminate them completely. It’s important to beef up the leader, start with 30lb and work your way up to 50lb or vice versa. Find what works best for you. I prefer fluorocarbon with all fish species but it isn’t necessary for mackerel fishing. Your drag should be smooth and the drag should not be locked down, mackerel are pelagic open water fish. They hit at speeds up to 35 mph and therefore they practically hook themselves. Make sure that you “DO NOT” use a swivel because mackerel often swim in schools and they compete for moving objects. When you hook a mackerel and it spots your swivel or knot, the others will often bite you off and you lose everything.
Spanish mackerel are rich in Omega’s but have a little stronger fishy taste then other species. Try throwing your catch on ice right away to keep them fresh and prevent ammonia from spreading throughout the meat. There are many ways to catch these speedy, toothy fish but I have described one of the easier methods. You don’t have to be an expert to apply the above mentioned tactics. Be safe and get out there and have some fun.