How To Catch Mackerel
The Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus) is a member of the large Scombridae family of saltwater fish, which also includes the tuna family. This type of fish is found in coastal waters all around the UK. It has a silvery bluish green coloured, narrow, very nearly cylindrical body, with distinctive black, slanting, almost vertical stripes.
This type of fish can reach up to 6 lb (2.7 kg) in weight, but fish over 1 lb 8 oz (0.68 kg) or 16 inches (40 cm) in length are generally considered to be large specimens. The UK record for a fish caught from the shore is 5 lb 11 oz (2.59 kg) and for a line-caught fish from a boat is 6 lb 2 oz (2.78 kg).
How And Where To Catch Mackeral
These fish prefer water where there is a strong tidal flow and they can often be found off jetties, piers, breakwaters and rocky headlands. Offshore sewage outfalls are also especially popular places where these fish congregate. This type of fish comes together into large shoals in late spring and these shoals usually stay together and come closer inshore until early autumn when they start to disperse.
This variety of fish spawns in May and June when the water temperature is between 11c and 21c. A mature female can release up to 450,000 eggs into the sea. The eggs are about 1 mm in length, pale amber in colour and float near the water surface. The eggs hatch after 2 to 8 days, depending on the water temperature. When the larvae reach 3 mm in length they start to feed on small planktonic crustaceans. By the time they are 6 months old these fish will be around 6 inches (15 cm) long and they usually reach 10 inches (25 cm) long by the time they are a year old. The females become sexually mature when they reach 14 inches (34 cm) in length, at around 2 to 3 years of age. The main diet of the adult fish is sprats and young herrings, but they will also eat their own kind, as well as sand eels and assorted crustaceans.
This type of fish is really keen on shiny baits, so it is often used to catch itself! Other baits that anglers use include prawns, squid pieces, scad and sand eels. However, most examples of this fish are not caught with food baits, but with spinners, lures or feathers.
Spinners And Lures
These fish are attracted to virtually every type of shiny silver or gold coloured spinner and lure. If you find a shoal, you're almost certain to pull out a large number of fish, in quick succession, whatever you're using. However, one type of lure that is widely used for this type of fishing is the Dexter wedge. The Dexter wedge comes in a number of different sizes and is also recommended for bass fishing, too.
The other alternative is to fish with feathers. Most anglers attach 4 to 6 feathers to the hook. Bright coloured, dyed feathers are more effective lures than natural coloured feathers. It is also necessary to add at least a 2 oz (55 gm) weight to the set-up in order to stop the feathers floating when the hook is cast into the water.
When choosing tackle for this kind of fishing, the basic advice is: 'anything goes'. You don't need to buy expensive rods and associated items. In fact, if you trail a spinner over the stern of a slow moving boat or from a pier or jetty, you only need your line connected to a spinner handle and don't actually need a rod at all! If you find a shoal, you'll land plenty of fish.
Almost any cheap fishing rod will be fine for fishing this species with float, spinner or feathers. When float fishing, the line should be set up so that the hook is at least 8 feet (245 cm) below the float, because these fish are normally reluctant to come into shallow water.
A number of different rigs can be used for this kind of fishing
If you decide to make the effort to use a rod for this type of fishing, a pulley rig is a good option. This type of rig is constructed by attaching a snood line to the middle to a swivel at the sea end of the main line. The snood line has a hook at one end and a lead weight (up to 4 oz, 115 g) at the other end. When a fish takes the lure, it causes the lead weight to be pulled up the line as far as the swivel where the rig is connected. The advantage of this set-up is that it reduces the possibility of the lead weight becoming snagged on underwater obstructions as the fish is being reeled in
A number of tackle suppliers offer mixed packs of hokki rigs, mass produced in the Far East, which are suitable for this type of fishing. A hokki rig consists of multiple hooks with bright coloured lures attached.
Books And Websites On How To Catch Mackeral
One of the most recent books about this type of fish is: 'The Mackerel: Its Biology, Assessment and the Management of a Fishery' by Stephen J. Lockwood, which was published by Fishing News Books in 1988.A number of general sea angling books also contain information about this type of fishing. They include:'The Sea Angler's Step-by-Step Guide to Bait and Rigs' edited by Mel Russ (ISBN 0953308707); 'Sea Fishing for Amateurs - A Practical Book on Fishing from Shore, Rocks or Piers' by Frank Hudson (ISBN 1406795682);'Sea Fishing Properly Explained' by Ian Ball (ISBN 0716022015);'Sea-Fishing from the Shore' by A.R. Harris Cass (ISBN 1406797537). In addition, a number of independent regional websites have been set up that provide sea angling news and features for different parts of the UK, from Scotland to the south coast of England