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Spanish Mackerel Fishing- Learn How to Fish for these Top Water Speedsters

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There are different methods of fishing depending on the type of fish you are trying to catch and where you are fishing. In this article, we will give you a complete lowdown on how to catch a Spanish Mackerel and the entire range of Spanish mackerel fishing techniques. But before we dive into the process of fishing and what kind of equipment we will need, first let us find out a bit about this fish. The Spanish Mackerel is a sister tribe of the true Mackerel and it has 21 distinct species. Some of these include Wahoo, Shark Mackerel, Double lined Mackerel, Sierra Spanish Mackerel, King Mackerel, Narrow barred Spanish Mackerel, Monterey Spanish Mackerel, Streaked Spanish Mackerel, Atlantic Spanish Mackerel, Papuan Spanish Mackerel, Japanese Spanish Mackerel, West African Spanish Mackerel

As all these names suggest, this species of Mackerel is found in many parts of the globe and If you want to look for Atlantic Spanish Mackerel fishing, you can do so in a variety of place around the globe. These fish are found in Atlantic, Pacific as well as Indian ocean. Some of these fish can grow to a mammoth size of 2.4 meters weighing as much as 100 kg on the scales.

Spanish Mackerel can easily be identified by their long-streamlined body with a touch of blue at the top (in some fish you will find this colour changing to green). The central and bottom part of their body is silvery in colour. In addition, you can spot a narrow blue or black stripe pattern running vertically along their body. Being one of the top predators in the sea, it has very sharp teeth to catch its prey.

Spanish Mackerel Teeth
Spanish Mackerel Razor Sharp Teeth

Spanish Mackerel Vs. King Mackerel 

Anglers from around the world sometimes find it hard to differentiate between the Spanish Mackerel and the King Mackerel. If you are planning Spanish Mackerel fishing, you should be able to distinguish it from the King Mackerel. Here we are giving you a brief description of this very popular fish. When you look at this fish closely, you will find some of its distinguishing features.

The dorsal fin of the Spanish Mackerel is black in colour. And unlike the King Mackerel lateral line that dips sharply at its mid-body section, the dip in the Spanish Mackerel is hardly visible. Another thing that distinguishes the Spanish mackerel from King Mackerel is it has the pronounced yellow goldish colour dots all over its sides along with a greenish tint to their backside. The King Mackerel, on the other hand, has a colourless first dorsal spine that unlike the Spanish Mackerel is folded down. In Spanish Mackerel it stands erect. 

spanish mackerel vs king mackerel
Spot the difference (source)

When to Go Fishing for Spanish Mackerel

Spanish mackerel fishing can be arranged any time of the year. However, from January to May they swim inshore where they are easy to catch. The reason behind this movement towards the inlet is many including change of water temperature, the behaviour of ocean currents and movement of the bait school among others. 

Where to Find the Spanish Mackerel

If you want to want to plan Spanish mackerel fishing with your friends, then the question arises where you should go to catch these beauties?

Spanish mackerel occur seasonally from Mexico to right up the US east coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. They are primarily found in the Gulf of Mexico, Florida coast and around the Carribian Islands. 

These are mainly shallow water fishes, and also come inlet for food and prefer sand bottom in depths of 10 to 40 feet (3 to 12 m), occasionally can be found as deep as 80 feet (24 m).They like to stay in the warm current and being one of the top predators in the sea you can gauge their location by looking out for diving birds. Even in the open sea where you are wondering where to find the Spanish Mackerel you have to look for some signs that nature gives you. One of these signs is the diving birds. These birds are a sure sign of finding a school of Spanish mackerel in that area. The birds are actually attacking the bait fishes that are trying to get out the way of the attacking Spanish Mackerel that is, in turn, trying to herd them into a tight ball for easy feeding.

These fishes mostly stay close to the surface of the water to feed on smaller fishes but also have the ability to live in a shallow stream of 15 m to as deep as 200 m in the open sea. Fishing Spanish Mackerel requires you to have a thorough understanding of its feeding and migratory pattern. 

How Big are Spanish Mackerel?

The variety of this fish is truly mind-boggling. If we talk about its length, then it varies from 35 cm for Papuan Spanish Mackerel to the Narrow Barred Spanish Mackerel at 240 cm from the tip of the snout to the fork of the tail. Depending on the size of this fish, the techniques of Spanish Mackerel fishing also varies. The weight of this fish thanks to its varied sizes also varies significantly.

While the Papuan Spanish Mackerel can weigh only half a kilogram, the Wahoo mackerel fish that is a subspecies of the Spanish Mackerel can weigh as much as 83 Kg on the scales. Its close cousin the King Mackerel can grow bigger at around 100 kgs. Therefore, when you go out to the sea for fishing Spanish Mackerel, choose the right kind of equipment. 

Big Spanish Mackerel
Big Spanish Mackerel

What Do Spanish Mackerel Love to Eat?

If you want to know how to catch Spanish Mackerel that is one of the top predators in the sea you should know about its habits. These fish likes to hunt in packs to get bigger kill by targeting big school of baitfish. They hunt for any fish which is smaller to them, but their favourite is the anchovies, sardines, herring squids, and prawns. They attack in groups, which allow them to easily herd a school of fish into a tight ball to feast on them. Spanish Mackerel are not very finicky about their food. Therefore, you can use a large number of fishes as Spanish Mackerel bait including scaled sardines or even squids to tempt them. 

What are the lures for Spanish Mackerel? 

When you go Spanish Mackerel fishing you should have in your toolkit heavy metal baits. In addition, you should also carry a gold or silver coloured spoon to catch this fish. As this fish is not one of the largest of the fish that live in the sea, so you can easily catch them with a short or a medium size tackle. Make sure that you buy a tackle that is easy to handle and fast to move as these fish are very swift and you should be quick with your tackle to catch them. Some of these lures include Twisty fishing lure, metal fishing lures, deep divers, surface lures, poppers and trolling lures.  

what do spanish mackerel eat
Spanish Mackerel's meal

What are the Different Techniques of Catching Spanish Mackerel?

As these fishes can be found in both deep as well as shallow waters we are listing here some of these techniques which you can try at your own convenience and gain expertise on them. 

1) Fishing them from the Boat

This is one of the most popular ways to catch Spanish Mackerel. It allows you to go where there is a sizable school of this fish and catch them. The advantage of this type of fishing is that you can fish in both deep water as well as shallow water (if you have a flat bottom boat). If you are on the boat, then you have the option to go to those places where you believe that there is a greater chance of catching this fish like near the vicinity of diving birds that are feeding on the baits that the Spanish Mackerel are trying to herd into a tight group. 

2) Surf Fishing

This is the second kind through which you can go Spanish Mackerel fishing. The advantage of this method is that you don’t have to hire boats and try to figure out where are the right fishing grounds. The only obstacle for this kind of fishing is that you will require clear water to succeed. To get a clear water you have to know the wind direction and the ocean currents. In days of clear water, you can see the Spanish Mackerel jumping around when feeding, that’s the time to cast shiny spoons. They are especially attracted to gold colour spoons. Casting and fast retrieve are required for which a fast retrieve reel with a gear ratio of 6:1 should be used.  In addition, as the eyesight of these fishes is very sharp, they will immediately spot a wire on the tackle and will avoid your bait. To get around this problem, you can tie the lure directly onto the line. 

surf fishing
Surf fishing (source)

3) Pier Fishing

Wondering how to fish for Spanish Mackerel? 

Then, Spanish Mackerel fishing from the pier or jetty can also be tried in the places where these fish are known to come to feed.  The methods that work are Casting, Bait fishing and Jigging.  is also very popular as it gives you a solid place to put down your chair and wait for the fish to snap at the bait.

Experts who have perfected the art of fishing from the pier suggest that the best time to fish for the Spanish Mackerel is early in the morning or in the evening when the light is falling. As these fish cannot see clearly during the fading light, the chance that they will fail to see the line attached to the bait is very high resulting in the high success rate of catching them. 

pier fishing
Pier Fishing

4) Balloon Fishing

This is one way of Spanish Mackerel fishing, although the overall cost of the equipment for this kind of fishing is quite high, it is less when you compare it with keeping a boat for fishing. This type of fishing can be done in any kind of situation, deep sea, shallow waters, inshore and near shore. Use of balloon allows you to fish even at night if you put a glowing torch inside the balloon to identify where it is even in the dark. While fishing with the help of balloons, you first attach either a dead or live bait to the line at a depth of your choosing. Now attach the fishing line and to the balloon and then along with the bait push it over the side of your boat. Let the wind and water current carry it farther away from the boat. When you see the balloon dipping up and down, you should quickly reel in the catch.

However, you should follow some rules for this kind of fishing, one of which is to adjust the size of the balloon. If it is too small, it would not be able to hold the weight of the bait and even could not go further out into the sea, if you are fishing from the shore. Always use bright colour balloons for easy identification. Use bio-degradable balloons or other aquatic animals like the tortoise can accidentally eat and choke on it. 

ballonn fishing
Balloon Fishing (source)

5) Casting or Spinning

Professional anglers use these types of techniques to Catch Spanish Mackerel. Casting metal spoons or using the spinning tackle to catch these extremely fast moving fishes has a charm of their own. In the bait casting technique, you need more expertise as it is an interplay of strength and perseverance to land a big Mackerel. The bait cast techniques are preferred because it has a longer rod and is equipped with a heavier gauge line that allows you to fish at a greater depth with more accuracy. 

Spinning tackle is mostly used by the amateurs to gain some experience before graduating to the casting tackle. There are some advantages of using the spinning tackle; one of them is that the spinning spool prevents the line from getting tangled and also allow you to reel in faster. 

6) Trolling for Spanish Mackerel

This is a very popular method for Spanish Mackerel fishing as it allows you to cover a large amount of area in a very small time that can lead to a bigger catch. In this type of fishing, you should make sure that the wire you are using is strong so that the Spanish Mackerel cannot cut it with their sharp teeth. Similarly, you should come with pre-fixed lines with small as well as big hooks. There are different trolling methods. We are listing some of here for your ready reference.

  • Shallow trolling: The first thing that comes to your mind when you hear this name is that it must be about the depth of the water where you want to fish. However, shallow trolling actually refers to the bait as Spanish Mackerel feed on those bait fishes that stay on the surface. When you use this technique, you have to mimic the movement of the natural fishes that live near the surface of the water and how they try to run away from the predator. 
  • Slow Trolling: This type of fishing requires live bait that struggles to swim in the water and its distressed state attracts the predators. While using this technique, it is essential to move your boat as slowly as your boat engine will permit. The fish is dragged behind your boat all the time. 
  • Deep trolling: This method allows you to put your bait at a greater depth sometimes up to 30 to 40 meters. To achieve this, anglers use a variety of equipment like wire lines with specialized tackles and trolling weights. This is a very difficult technique for Spanish Mackerel fishing as it requires a lot of experience and costly equipment to catch the fish. However, when you are successful, you will be able to catch big fishes as most of these monster size fishes try to stay at a greater depth. 
Deep Sea Trolling
Deep Sea Trolling

7) Floating baits

It has been observed that many fishes do not bite those baits that are tied with heavy weights. They like to strike at those that float slowly to the bottom like any other dead aquatic creature. In this method, we use a floater and tie the bait with it and allow the bait to slowly sink to the bottom. When a fish attacks the bait, the floater is pulled down indicating that it is time to reel in the fish. 

How to Land Spanish Mackerel

Now that you have found out where to catch the Spanish Mackerel. It is time to learn how to land these fast-paced fishes.

Spanish Mackerel is a very fast moving fish. Therefore, if you want to catch one, then it is wise to tire it out before landing it in your boat. For this, you will need a reel which is spooled up with 300-500 meters of line. When you hooked this fish, it will be wise to let it swim for a while because reeling it in immediately will be a big problem and might damage the tackle because of its sharp teeth. After the fish is tired, reel it in and when it is next to the boat use a gaff to hook it and land it on the boat. You have to take control of its head because if it is big is the size and has some energy left and is thrashing about, then it can wound you or anyone else nearby with its sharp teeth if you are not careful. 

Now, after you have netted this big sport, it is time to celebrate with your trophy. Catching this ultimate speedster can be challenging and even frustrating, but don’t let their speed dampen your passion to fish. Follow our mentioned techniques and venture out in the coasts to grab these agile fishes like a pro.
Happy Angling

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