Fishing Tips for Spanish Mackerel

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Here are some fishing tips for mackerel fishing. As far as many fishermen are concerned Spanish mackerel, also known as prince mackerel, are truly a royal catch for many reasons.

Among these reasons are the facts that there are many to be caught, and Spanish mackerel are reasonably easy to catch. And they can be found within reach of those anglers that can't afford a large offshore fishing boat. They can easily be caught by surf fishermen, or those who prefer the company found on a pier. And they taste great too. They generally start showing up in spring from the Virginia coast down to Florida, driven north by changes in water temperatures; and the stay in this area until late fall. Spanish mackerel rarely are caught more than a few miles offshore. And with clean, clear water and the presence of smaller bait fish, prince mackerel often find their way within casting distance of the beach. As always, no matter what fish you are after, water temperature plays a key role. Prince mackerel begin showing up when water temps start approaching the 64 to 65 degree range. And they'll stay along the south Atlantic coast of the United States all summer and through winter until water temperatures start dipping below that. During its stay the prince mackerel will stay much closer to shore than its cousin the king mackerel. Spanish mackerel are also smaller than the king mackerel. Most Spanish caught will run around 2 pounds. However 10 pound prince mackerel have been caught. The record for North Carolina is 13 pounds even. Normally the biggest Spanish are caught at the very beginning and the near the end of the mackerel season. But a limit of "good eating size" mackerel can be caught easily with a few passes through a school that is feeding. Spanish Mackerel tend to feed on the smallest bait fish available, which are usually glass minnows. However they will also bite cigar minnows, grass shad, or menhaden. You can catch nice fish in the fall with live bait. And spring is the best time to use medium to light-weight spinning tackle. You can catch a lot of prince mackerel trolling with planers, but several fish are missed with that method. If you really want to have fun catching Spanish mackerel, use 6 1/2 to 7 foot medium or medium light rods with either spinning or baitcasting reel. The biggest prince mackerel are only so big, so if you really want to have fun catching these fish, try using relatively light tackle. And to make it even more fun use either a small jig or a Yo-Zuri Crystal 3D Minnow Deep Diver. When fishing for prince mackerel try to find the cleanest water you can find. Clean water makes it much easier to catch Spanish mackerel. It's not an absolute must, but it definitely helps in a major way. Then try to find schooling fish. They may have a pod of baitfish trapped at the surface of the water and will be splattering bait in all directions. Troll in a zig-zag pattern at 4 1/2 to 6 knots, with your bait running 15 to 40 feet deep. If you have a depth finder try to keep an eye on it as well as watch for big pods of bait fish that have the Spanish mackerel along with them. You'll find these pods with the mackerel schooling and jumping best early in the morning, when the water is smooth and calm. And this is when you can do your sight casting best; maybe with a Diamond jig, or a 3/4 ounce Crippled Herring spoon. Use a fast retrieve, slow down and they'll cut you off. Trolling is where most Spanish mackerel are caught. In spring, trolling plugs and light tackle are very effective. Later on toward summer, planer boards and spoons are more effective because the fish will have gone deeper due to the rising water temperature. An effective way is to troll deep diving Crystal Minnows on medium-light spinning or baitcasting tackle; the plugs will go several feet below the surface. You can also try a No.00 Clark spoon behind a 5-inch bird teaser with 7 to 10 feet of 25 pound leader between the bird teaser and the Clark spoon. The bird teaser drives the prince mackerel nuts. After you troll in a zig-zag pattern, you might want to circle back through an area that you've found fish in or just troll a straight line along that depth. Monofilament leaders are best because the keen eyes of the prince mackerel make them wary of wire leaders. You may have more cut-offs, but it's worth it because you'll have more bite from the Spanish using monofilament. And they will likely spot a big barrel swivel. So it's best to keep the visible parts of your terminal tackle small. Some other things you might find handy is that Spanish mackerel usually school by size. So if the first fish caught is a 2 pound mackerel, the rest of the fish in that school will be around the same size. And clear water is always best to catch prince mackerel, but they can be caught in stained water. If the water is stained however, a gold spoon will work best. Fishing for Spanish mackerel from the surf or a pier is a little different. It requires long casts, so you'll need a heavy, streamlined lure. For the surf, a Gotcha or Stingsilver is preferred because it can be cast a good distance and retrieved quickly or with a darting action. Be it on the pier, surf or trolling, Spanish mackerel are a fun fish to target and catch, and they taste wonderful too.

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