When I use mackerel, especially when I’m fishing in Scotland, there is typically no waste at all. Any remaining flesh on the filleted backbone is scraped off and used as groundbait for mullet, while the head, guts, and tail are thrown into the water to be used as groundbait for larger species, hopefully conger eels. Then, I have two fillets that can either be used as previously described or cut into very small pieces and added to any groundbait. Not just mullet, but also garfish, mackerel, pollack, coalfish, wrasse, and numerous small species are drawn to this groundbait. One cannot overstate how effective using a fish and bread-based groundbait is when fishing so many rock marks.
Of all the known sea fishing baits, mackerel is arguably the most versatile and effective. Few fish will reject a mackerel if it is presented to them in a manner they find appetizing. It can be used as a deadly bait for a variety of species, including some that may surprise you, in small strips, chunks, fillets, or whole. Lesser spotted dogfish, bull huss, ling, conger, tope, rays, porbeagles, blue sharks, and other predatory fish like bass and pollack are frequently eaten by mackerel. Whiting, dabs, and other common fish eagerly attack strip mackerel baits. Perhaps less obviously, but cod is frequently caught on mackerel, especially from the shore. Anglers have been so thoroughly brainwashed as to believe that cod will only take worms, crab, squid, and other types of bait. Mackerel is frequently disparaged in favor of elitist or trendy baits, but it should never be ignored.
Mackerel was the only bait used in the 19th century for cod longlining, and supplies were salted in barrels for the winter. I’ve seen fresh mackerel beat out other baits for cod on my local piers several times in the winter. This is a large, fresh chunk of mackerel flesh with an almost magical ability to produce larger specimens rather than worm baits tipped with mackerel. Perhaps the fact that so few anglers use it is the reason it doesn’t produce as many cod.
When bottom fishing, a larger bait typically performs better for conger, cod, and bass. Additionally, between January and March, when the larger cod migrate ashore, prepare a few fillets for freezing so that you can use them later. Even though some large specimens are caught on small baits meant for other species, the rule that bigger baits attract bigger fish will always hold true.
Sardines that have been mashed up are also excellent groundbait, and supermarkets sell frozen bags of pilchards, which are larger sardines, in quantities of about a dozen. These will be between 20 and 30 centimeters long and work well as whole or sectionbait for ling, conger eel, tope, and other fish. These are soft, like herring, and must be tied to the hook after being cut into smaller pieces. However, the majority of fishermen will buy other fish baits as a backup and only choose mackerel as their first choice. Any of these alternative oily fish must be filleted with a sharp knife if you plan to use them for anything other than whole fish. Pre-cutting a desired cutlet, slice, or piece of bait from a fillet is always preferable to chopping away at the entire fish body. When this is done, the baits that are produced are cleaner, easier to trim, and produce less waste. The belly flesh can be used to cut a few long strips that can be later cut to the right size for floatfishing, freelining, or short-range ledgering. As an alternative, you can cut them into smaller pieces and use them to warn other baits off. The remaining fillet can then be cut into one or two larger pieces, or several smaller diagonally cut pieces, or “lasks,” to provide bait for larger species.
How to catch mackerel: The best tackle, rods, poles and reels for mackerel fishing
Megabucks rods aren’t typically necessary when it comes to the best fishing equipment for catching mackerel; instead, a 10-13ft (3-05-3) 65m) rod suitable for casting 3-6 oz of medium-power saltwater beach or surf. You can combine this with a spinning reel of sizes 6000 to 8000 or an equivalent multiplier to create a reliable mackerel fishing setup that even novices will find simple to use.
A freshwater rod can also be used, and models geared toward catching carp, pike, and catfish are suitable. Something around 12ft (3. A 3oz weight is suggested for casting at a comfortable test-curve of 3-4 lb (approximately 6-m). Large fixed-spool reels and large pit-style reels are also suitable tackle for fishing for mackerel, but if you use equipment designed for freshwater, make sure to give it a thorough wash in warm soapy water afterward to prevent rust and seizing problems.
Therefore, for general mackerel fishing gear from a beach or pier, we prefer the 12 feet or longer rod option coupled with a large reel filled with approximately 12 pounds (5 kilograms) of line. 20lb (9kg) braided main line or monofilament that is stronger (between 30 and 60 lb) to serve as a casting leader. View our guide to the best fishing line to help you make your decision. The setup is finished with a string of high-quality mackerel feathers, a sabiki rig, and the appropriate weight.
Reaching mackerel shoals typically only requires a 3 oz (85 gm) distance lead, but if your rod and tackle can handle it, don’t be afraid to go much heavier to reach a more distant shoal. A long cast and heavy weight aren’t always necessary because they can occasionally swim within a few yards of the shore as they wreck havoc on their prey.
A finger stool protects your index finger from repeated casting. A priest quickly handles mackerel that will be used as food or as winter pike bait. Kill those fish firmly but swiftly to avoid prolonged suffering and immediately place them on ice to maintain freshness. Due to the high oil content, be aware that they will quickly spoil if left out in the sun or at room temperature.
Your tackle options are much wider when fishing from a boat because casting is not necessary when you drop the rig over the side; instead, you simply reel up and down the water column. A short 6–8ft (1. 8–2. The best boat fishing equipment for mackerel will consist of a rod (45m) rated for 10-20lb line and a small multiplier loaded with either 10-20lb monofilament or 20-30lb braid.
Small Mackerel Baits: Mini species can be caught with very tiny strips of mackerel that are 1 to 2 cm (1/4 to 12 inch) long, while larger strips that are 3 to 6 cm (1 to 2 inches) long can be used for general sea fishing for species like pouting, whiting, school bass, dogfish, and flatfish species. This size of mackerel strip works well for float fishing as well, catching pollock, coalfish, wrasse, as well as additional mackerel. Small mackerel strips this size will typically remain on the hook without the use of bait elastic. When fishing in shallow or clear water, many anglers have success using the silver underside of the mackerel’s belly because the reflective color of this part of the mackerel acts as an additional attractant.
Mackerel is a top bait for some of the biggest species that UK anglers target, including conger eels, skate, tope, and other shark species. Small mackerel can be caught whole by fishing with a hook that is passed through its mouth and out of the top of its head. Although some anglers prefer to hook mackerel through the eyes, this provides a strong hook hold. It’s a good idea to use a knife to score the sides of a whole mackerel when fishing it this way to release more scent. Larger mackerel may be too big to use whole. In this instance, one mackerel can provide three baits for large species: the sides of the fish can be removed and the full fillets used as baits; additionally, the head and internal organs can be hooked through the mouth or eyes and used as additional bait when fishing. Another excellent bait for larger species is a mackerel flapper, which is made by removing the mackerel’s backbone section and using the flanks as a large bait, as seen in the image above.
Using a light spinning rod and a single spinner is the most sporting method of catching mackerel. This method of catching mackerel makes for a fun day of fishing in the summer, and the mackerel can be frozen to serve as bait throughout the year. However, some fishermen prefer to use heavier bass rods or beachcasters, strings with up to six feathers or daylights, and simply catch as many mackerel as they need in as little time as possible. Many anglers fish for mackerel all summer long and freeze some for winter bait.
Mackerel are widely available from fishmongers and supermarkets. Anglers can anticipate paying between £1 and £2 for them, depending on the weight of mackerel they buy. They are sold both whole and filleted. Numerous fishing supply stores also sell frozen mackerel. Of course, many anglers will catch their own mackerel.
Mackerel does not keep well because it is an oily fish, especially in the hot summer months. Mackerel will start to go bad in a very short period of time, even if they are kept in the shade, so anglers should bring a cool box or fishing cool bag to store mackerel in. Mackerel should be brought home right away and placed in the refrigerator where it will keep for several days if it was purchased from a store or the wet fish counter of a fishmonger. Mackerel can also be frozen. While some fishermen prefer to gut the fish first and then freeze the fillets, others simply freeze whole mackerel. Mackerel can be toughened up and made to withstand casting better by salting it, wrapping it in clingfilm, and freezing it, according to some anglers.
Can I use mackerel as bait?
Mackerel, being oily, is a fragrant, attractive bait for crabs. It can be purchased from neighborhood seafood suppliers fairly consistently, and it is reasonably priced in its frozen bait-quality form.
How do you rig mackerel as bait?
This size of strip is an underappreciated bait for winter cod and can catch species like rays, bull huss, and larger bass. Strong casting techniques are more likely to cause larger mackerel strips to fall off the hook.