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Video:How to Catch Mackerel

with Jeff Mackin

Known as a popular game fish, Spanish Mackerel can be found in estuaries and creeks. In this About.com video, learn how to identify and catch Spanish Mackerel.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Catch Mackerel

Hi I'm Jeff Mackin with the International Game Fish Association. With About.com, today we're going to be talking about catching Spanish mackerel. 

Where to Catch Mackerel

The Spanish mackerel is a smaller cousin of the King Mackerel. They're often confused with each other. Spanish Mackerel are a very popular game fish and they utilize a lot of different habitats you can find them back in the estuaries, and title creeks, and bays, out into the inlet, out offshore, you'll find them from the beaches all the way out to the reefs. A great way to target them if you think they're in the area; they're out on the reefs, out offshore, take your boat out there and look for schools of baitfish.

How to Spot Mackerel

A tell tale sign that you've got Spanish mackerel is you'll actually see them sky rocketing, like a King Fish. When they're feeding on the baitfish they'll actually jump out of the water. When you see that school and you approach it, you want to stay far enough away that you don't spook them. You can cast lures, you can cast live baits into the school and try and catch those fish.

How to Catch Mackerel

Depending on what they're feeding on, you want to try to match the hatch. You want to match actually, the bait or the lure to the size of the fish they're feeding on. If they're feeding on little tiny glass minnows, good lures to throw are spoons, like these, something very small, something that flashes a lot that looks like the minnows they're feeding on. If they're bigger fish that they're feeding on, something like a Pilchard, you can get away with larger baits, things like that. If you have the baits, if you have the Pilchards, that's a great way to target them.

 Now, other types of lures, you know, hard plastics, if you suspect Spanish are in the area but you don't know exactly where they are, you can troll for them, it's a very easy way to do it. You want to try to have your baits, kind of down a little bit deeper. So, use things like trolling leads or small planters to get your bait underwater. This lure right here is a classic trolling spoon for Spanish mackerel. Or small hard plastic baits like this. Troll around, and while you're trolling look for fish, look for baitfish, and that's a great way that you can find and key in where they are. If you come into a school of them, then you can stop the boat and cast again.

One thing to keep in mind with Spanish mackerel is that they have very good eyesight.  So when you're trolling or even casting lures, a good thing to use is Mono or Fluorocarbon. It's very thin, it's very clear so they don't see it as well. Because they do have good eyesight and you want to have a long enough leader that you separate your bait from any of your terminal tackle, like swivel sand things like that. The things about Spanish Mackerel is when they get in a feeding frenzies, if one fish takes your bait, and your swivel is very close to it, another fish might see that and think it's a fish to eat and bite it and cut you off. So you want to have a nice long leader so that it separates it all away from the fish so you don't run into that risk.

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