Mastering the Art of Mackerel Fishing: A Comprehensive Guide

Mackerel fishing is an exciting and rewarding experience for anglers of all skill levels. These fast-swimming, schooling fish provide a thrilling catch and are delicious on the dinner table. If you’re eager to embark on a mackerel fishing adventure, this comprehensive guide will equip you with all the essential knowledge and tips you need to succeed.

Understanding Mackerel: Key Facts

Before we dive into the fishing techniques, let’s explore some key facts about mackerel:

  • Mackerel are pelagic fish belonging to the Scombridae family, known for their sleek, torpedo-shaped bodies and striped patterns.
  • They are found in temperate and moderate coastal waters, often traveling in large schools.
  • Mackerel are carnivorous and feed on smaller fish, such as anchovies and sardines.
  • Common mackerel species include Spanish mackerel, Atlantic mackerel, and King mackerel.
  • They are highly prized for their flavorful flesh and are popular targets for both recreational and commercial fishermen.

Where to Find Mackerel

Locating mackerel is crucial for a successful fishing trip. Here are some prime spots to target:

  • Coastlines and rocky areas near shore
  • Areas with strong currents and tidal rips
  • Around piers, jetties, and other structures extending into deeper water
  • Near shoals of baitfish, such as sprats or anchovies

Keep an eye out for diving birds, as they often indicate the presence of baitfish and, consequently, mackerel in the area.

Mackerel Fishing Techniques

Mackerel are aggressive feeders, and various fishing techniques can be effective in catching them. Here are some popular methods:

1. Float Fishing

Float fishing is a simple yet effective way to target mackerel. Use a small, shiny lure or live bait, such as strips of mackerel, garfish, or squid, and attach it to a float rig. Cast your line near structures or areas where mackerel are likely to congregate, and watch for sudden movements or dips in your float, indicating a strike.

2. Spinning and Lures

Mackerel are attracted to shiny, fast-moving lures, making spinning an excellent technique. Popular lures for mackerel include:

  • Spoons
  • Smaller crankbaits
  • Jigs
  • Swimbaits

Retrieve your lure with a steady, jerky motion to mimic the movements of baitfish. Vary your retrieval speed and action until you find a pattern that triggers strikes.

3. Feathering

Feathering, or trolling with multiple lines rigged with feathered lures, is a highly effective method for catching mackerel. These lures resemble small fish or baitfish and are designed to flutter and flash in the water, attracting mackerel.

Attach several feathered lures to your line, spaced about 30 cm apart, and add a weight at the end. Cast or troll your line, and slowly raise and lower your rod to create movement in the lures.

4. Live Bait Fishing

Mackerel are opportunistic feeders and will readily strike live bait. Popular choices include:

  • Anchovies
  • Sardines
  • Small baitfish

Rig your live bait on a circle hook or a small treble hook, and cast or drift it near areas where mackerel are likely to be feeding.

Mackerel Fishing Tips

To increase your chances of success, consider these helpful tips:

  • Use light tackle, such as spinning or baitcasting rods paired with appropriate line strength (10-20 lb test).
  • Downsize your hooks and lures, as mackerel have small mouths.
  • Target mackerel during warm weather months when they are more abundant and active.
  • Look for birds diving and feeding on baitfish, as this often indicates the presence of mackerel.
  • Stick to the coastline areas and watch for shoals of baitfish near the water’s edge.
  • Experiment with different retrieval speeds and actions until you find what triggers strikes.
  • Consider using a string of Sabiki bait lures, which can be effective for catching mackerel.

Handling and Cooking Mackerel

Once you’ve successfully landed your mackerel, it’s essential to handle them properly. Mackerel are known for their delicate scales, which help regulate their body temperature. Avoid holding them by the sides, as this can remove their scales. Instead, gently lift them by the head or tail when unhooking or handling them.

Mackerel are highly perishable and best consumed fresh. They can be prepared in various ways, including grilling, baking, or smoking. Their rich, oily flesh pairs well with bold flavors and citrus.


Mackerel fishing offers an exciting and rewarding experience for anglers of all levels. By understanding these fast-swimming fish, their habits, and the best techniques for targeting them, you’ll be well-equipped to embark on a successful mackerel fishing adventure. Remember to prioritize safety, follow local regulations, and practice ethical catch-and-release practices when necessary. Tight lines and happy fishing!

How to catch Mackerel | TAFishing


What fishing method is used to catch mackerel?

Spinning for mackerel The job of spinning is an easy one. You attach a snap swivel on the line then the lure to the end of that. This lure has been around a long time and is a well established mackerel and bass lure.

What’s the best time to catch mackerel?

Beaches tend to fish best during the middle flood period to high water, with only very deep beaches likely to give fish on the ebbing tide. Mackerel feed throughout daylight but feeding peaks at dawn and dusk. They do not feed during the hours of darkness.

How do you catch mackerel from shore?

Using a beachcaster or bass rod and daylights or feathers is a very effective way to catch mackerel, and if a shoal is cast into it is possible to catch a mackerel on every lure. However, there is little sport in this method. Most anglers use lighter bass or spinning rods if they are fishing for mackerel for sport.

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