Photo credit: Stephanie Tran
Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus Maculatu) is a pelagic species. Hearing the words “the macks are in” can turn a moderately trafficked pier into what looks like a flash mob! These fast movers have a sleek body with beautiful coloration. When macks are migrating off our beaches, you can experience some great fishing. Unlike other species, mackerel are very accessible from shore, piers, and jetties.
Mackerel migrate as far North as Cape Cod and as far South as the Yucatan Peninsula. They travel in schools, seeking to ambush bait and find waters warmer than 70 degrees. These fish average from 2-3 pounds, but can weigh as much as 11 lbs. With their sleek silvery bodies, rows of elliptical yellow spots, and dark green backs, they are a beautiful fish. Unlike it's relative the kingfish that resides in deeper water, Spanish mackerel come very close to shore.
When the Spanish mackerel are running, all it takes is the right equipment and timing. They feed on small fish and are voracious eaters. Fly fishing or using a spinning outfit will work great. When these fish are hungry, they will take your bait. Small fish, shrimp, and squid will all lure these fish in. Spoons and Gotchas are very efficient artificial baits. Depending on your area, large quantities of these fish can be harvested daily. Mackerel have very sharp teeth; heavier fluorocarbon line is necessary to prevent line breakage. Jigging and trolling are very useful methods in catching these fish. Diving birds are a great clue that macks are in the area.
Spanish Mackerel has red meat with an oily consistency. They are “fishy” tasting fish and are great cooked or smoked. This is a species that anglers look forward to fishing twice a year, but can be caught year round. Everyone watches for that first post, “The macks are in!"