Introduction to Mackerel Fishing
Mackerel is a common name applied to a number of different species of fish, mostly, but not exclusively, from the family Scombridae. They may be found in all tropical and temperate areas. Most Mackerel live offshore in the oceanic environment but a few, like the Spanish mackerel, enter bays and can be caught near bridges and piers. Common features of the mackerel are a slim, cylindrical shape and numerous finlets on the dorsal and ventral sides behind the dorsal and anal fins. The scales are extremely small, if present at all. The largest species called “mackerel” is the king mackerel which can grow to 66 inches. A female mackerel lays about one million eggs at a time.
Mackerel Fishing Locations
The mackerel is native to both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. On the US coast, it ranges along the continental shelf from Labrador south to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Most mackerel inhabit the inner half of the continental shelf with none straying beyond the shelf’s outer edge. Although frequently found near the water’s surface, they can also be found as far down as 600 feet. The king mackerel is a subtropical species of the Atlantic Coast of the Americas. Common in the coastal zone from North Carolina to Brazil, it occurs as far south as Rio de Janeiro, and occasionally as far north as the Gulf of Maine. Nonetheless, a preference for water temperatures in the range of 68 to 85 °F. may limit distribution.
Mackerel Fishing Techniques
Atlantic mackerel can be found anywhere along the shore, from deepwater to shallow bays. Anglers fish for them from boats or shoreline sites such as piers, jetties, bridges and beaches. A medium spinning rod rigged with 15 pound test monofilament line is best for casting, although adventuresome anglers may use medium or light action spinning rods with a single 1 ounce mackerel jig (a good quality jig is a Bridgeport by Bead Tackle Co.) or a saltwater fly rod rigged with a streamer. Any metal lure that resembles a sand eel or other bait fish can be used when casting.
Many anglers fishing from a boat use a mackerel tree, which is a small diamond jig preceded by several 1/0 surge tube worms. These can be different colors or silver with red tips. The tree is jigged so that it resembles a larger fish chasing small bait fish. Typically the jig is dropped down 6 to 12 feet, lifted with a jerk, allowed to settle, this action should be repeated at a rapid pace. Mackerel can also be pursued with bait such as sand eels, sea worms, squid or small fish on long shank hooks with on line sinkers. Mackerel strike hard and them momentarily release the bait before attempting to swallow it. Therefore, the greatest success is achieved by setting the hook on the second strike. Taking a trip with a Mackerel fishing guide or Mackerel fishing charter can be a great way to learn how to fish for them.
Mackerel Flavor And Cooking
Mackerel lose their flavor rapidly if they are not kept cold. Fish should be iced immediately upon capture. Many people prefer marinating mackerel in citrus juices to lighten the full flavor that the oil imparts to the fish. Marinated mackerel that has been cooked skin down on a covered grill provides the angler with a pleasurable ending to a day’s successful fishing. Another way to prepare mackerel is first remove the head and tail, then split the fish down the back stopping just after entering the body cavity. The fish will spread open, remove the entrails, wash the insides, cover the flesh with 1/8″ real mayonnaise, grill first the flesh side then the skin side for about 10 – 15 minutes. Ask your Mackerel fishing guide or Mackerel fishing charter captain for their favorite recipe and they will usually be happy to share one with you.
More on Mackerel Fishing
The Mackerel is a rocket shaped fish that can propel to speeds of up to 35mph. “If you want a drag screaming experience than definitely try and catch a few of these.” King mackerel are a highly sought after gamefish. They are a challenging catch that puts up a spectacular fight by leaping and sky rocketing out of the water. They are taken on hook and line gear with both live or dead bait and artificial lures. They can be caught from shore or pier, from a boat at anchor, drifting or trolling. Visit our Mackerel fishing guide and Mackerel fishing charter page today to find the right professional for your next adventure.