Spanish mackerel is the number one choice for most seasoned anglers. Many fish species, including those with the vaguest predatory instincts, eat mackerel. Reeling in mackerel depends on the tackle, rigs, locations, and seasons you choose for your net fishing trips. Moreover, you can rest assured of having a great time with your friends or family because Spanish mackerel is delicious when fried or grilled. This guide shows you how to catch Spanish mackerel like a real pro!
What Is The Best Bait To Catch Spanish Mackerel?
Some of the top baits for targeting Spanish mackerel include:
1. Diamond Jigs
Diamond jigs are kind of a secret weapon among experienced charter boat captains across the globe. They can offer you unmatchable action even though they look so simple. These are used to catch Spanish mackerel feeding on small glass minnows.
Diamond jigs flash just enough to cause them to take a bite. They are lightweight, so they are often rolled as opposed to being thrown out. If the bait is small, just one ounce will work well. Larger versions are very useful for fishing behind similar structures.
2. Gotcha Lure
Gotcha lures are very popular with Spanish mackerel anglers. They are very effective. They are some of the best baits that will hook Spanish mackerel on the east coast. It can be cast a mile, and the flash from it is amazing. They’re also practicable because they use treble hooks that work well.
Gotcha lures work very well to catch mackerel, and they are reasonably priced. It is cast out, left to sink, and then quickly jerked in to get it into the water as quickly as possible. It is very easy to use because the bait will flash and roll, and the bait will attract Spanish mackerel to it.
3. Bass Assassin Sea Shad Bait
These baits catch just about every type of fish, including Spanish mackerel. Anglers can cast these baits blindly while drifting along flats, as they pass mackerel when fishing for other fish species.
Bass Assassin Sea Shad Baits are very effective at fishing with bait and breaking fish. Baits such as these are very economical and thus perfect for beginners. Spanish mackerel will eat all the bait you throw at them.
But, unlike a bucktail jig, the tail can easily be cut off. Even if some fish eat the jig head, replacing it costs less than a dollar. It is very hard to find better prices on jig heads these days.
All of them can be productive, but you can select glow/chartreuse as your favorite color, followed by red/gold shiner. Most people use 1/4-ounce to 1/2-ounce jig heads, but sometimes the current forces anglers to go larger.
4. Clark Trolling Spoons
Clark spoons are extremely effective when fishing for Spanish mackerel. They are very long and slender, and they really do not jiggle much. Clark spoons are extremely fast, moving at speeds of up to 10 knots. Because they are very light, there is not really any way to cast them.
Some kind of device is used to get spoons down in the water column. Trolling weights and planers are the most common fishing devices used. Planers are great as they work very well at taking a lure down to allow it to be easily caught by the fish. The planer will “trip” the fish when a fish is hooked. Using a planer that is made from a long piece of 20-foot-long lead is a great way to get some serious action with a Clark spoon.
5. Casting Spoon
Casting spoons cast very effectively! There are two casting spoons that are highly effective at luring Spanish mackerel. One-ounce lures are great for a variety of situations. Anglers can go up to more ounces if they feel confident. These lures cast miles and are great for when the schools of mackerel start to show up quickly.
Casting spoons wobble and make a lot of noise. They can be cast very easily by anglers using a spoon as bait or cast in a blind fashion. Anglers should always use a swivel when using spoons to prevent lines from twisting when casting spoons.
What Is The Best Time To Catch Spanish Mackerel?
When it is hottest, lots of fish are easy to catch, and you will find mackerel in large numbers along the coast. The Spanish mackerel hide too far away from anglers who often target them, so it can be tricky to learn how to catch them unless you have access to a boat or a kayak. In these cases, they are accessible most of the time.
It’s during the warmer months when mackerel are often seen in massive shoals and at times when water temperatures are highest that you can catch a good amount of them. Mackerel are best at feeding around dawn and dusk. During these times, they hunt for small fish, sandals, launce, shrimps, and squid. Fish when the light changes at sunrise or dusk and the tide is moving in or out a fair bit during that time. And if there is a tidal change before or after that, you’ll have a full fishing session.
You could also try fishing at night by using a light stick to attract the fish to your rig. Fishing a jetty or a pier at night is great for catching plenty of mackerel. You can try fishing on a glow stick rig. Fish with a big glowstick or bobber and place bait in areas where they congregate. Use strips of fresh whitefish a few inches long and placed on fairly large hooks (14 to 16 inches).
How Do You Target Spanish Mackerel?
The best way to target and catch the Spanish mackerel is to use a string of fathers or lures. Retrieve these basic lures erratically from the water to make them effective. These simple lures are occasionally thrown up in the water and are usually retrieved in odd ways. They are designed to imitate small bait fish such as sand eels, which are consumed mainly by the Spanish mackerel.
Here are a few quick tips to guide you:
- Mackerel move very fast; if you bait them quickly, they will likely also bite.
- When the water is extremely hot, mackerel are abundant, so when that happens, you will likely catch some.
- If you find big Spanish mackerel in the spring, you can catch many of them, as long as the water is warm.
- Try doing as fast a retrieve as you can, and if you’re trolling motor, try going up to eight or nine knots.
- Use a method called planing to get a lure down below the surface of the water. Sometimes you can get into the water 10′ or deeper.
- Watch out for birds. You can tell if there are any feeding birds close by. Birds indicate when Spanish mackerel are near, just as they do with other species of fish.
- It is very difficult to locate gray hounds that are as shy as mackerel, so if you see a gray hound, you know it’s time to concentrate your efforts.
What Is The Best Way To Catch Mackerel?
Since mackerel are fast-moving, they’re easy to catch with a small amount of simple tackle. Fishing with a small, very shiny lure, like a spoon, a spinner, or other similar imitation, or a jig or other small bait like that, are successful ways to catch the Spanish mackerel.
In fact, a simple rig with a few feathers or some small plastic lures will probably work better than all other methods. The rig consists of six hooks with a light–colored strip of bait on the hooks and is designed to look like a small fish or other food moving in the water. Using big, colorful feathers to entice fish to fall into your net is old–fashioned now, and using smaller, more modern hooks is better now.
It is best to use hooks between four and 1/0 mm and to add a small amount of bright or dark color to your hooks (yellow, silver, red, black, and green are really effective). This is the most effective way to imitate the small sandfish that the Spanish mackerel like to eat.
Modern versions of the feather are known as a Sabiki rig, which consists of several small hooks and some imitation bait, such as fish skin or some shiny thread (such as tinsel). You can catch a good number of Spanish mackerel by using light tackle, such as a simple lead or a small rig with a few feathers attached.
If you’re fishing for mackerel from a pier or a beach, make sure the rig you use can carry the weight of all the lead or rig you plan to use. If you’re fishing for a small mackerel, use a rig with a lure weighing around 20lb. It is possible to lure more mackerel by using a bright, weightless jig or a fish imitator at the bottom of a rig. It will create a very attractive rig, which in turn will attract a good number of mackerel as they fly over it while it’s being dropped or retrieved from a boat.
When it’s hard for fish to come out of the water, putting a small amount of bait in their mouth can make a big difference. Mackerels are more eager to bite at something that tastes good than things that look good in the water.
Spanish mackerel is a perfect start if you want to introduce a friend or your children to angling. In fact, it’s an easy-to-catch fish, especially for people with short attention spans. The fish will only put up a good fight on light tackles. So, plan wisely and bring along all you need to succeed out there on the waters.
Raymond Smith is a fishing enthusiast who has been obsessed with fishing and boating since childhood. He used to accompany his father to every weekend fishing escapade along the banks of the Madison River, where they would try to catch as much fish as possible, each time targeting different species to add to their belts. Smith loves angling, travel, and exploration and has amassed more than ten years of experience in trout and steelhead fishing techniques. He shares all his fishing experiences and tips on this website and other online outdoors magazines.