Mackerel Fishing Tips

I have a lot of respect for the Mackerel. They are a beautiful fish that taste good and are a great bait for sea anglers. They are powerful and can provide some great sport, but how do you catch them? read on for some Mackerel Fishing Tips…

I have been prompted to write this after reading a few UK sea angling forums and reading what people have said about our humble Mackerel.

The Atlantic Mackerel Scomber scombrus is a pelagic fish (mid water) which shoal in great numbers around the UK coast in late spring. Huge numbers can be caught from boats and the shore, the warmer the water the better.

I find this amazing, but I read on wikipedia that they can live to be 20 years old! So consider that first when you bring them up 5 on a string!!

The largest rod caught mackerel was 6lb 13 oz wow, that would be a great fish!!

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They can swim at 20mph faster than most of us can run!!

The fish makes a great all round bait for Shark, Conger, Bass, Ray, Huss and almost anything else that feeds in the sea!!

They also make for good eating and can be served in many ways, baked, boiled, smoked, steamed, BBQ’d, salted you name it!!

The most common method for catching these fish would be using 5 lures / feathers on one line, dropping this to the seabed, then pumping the rod up and down, then after a few mins. At this depth, wind the lures up 5 feet and try again. Keep doing this until you catch some, then next drop get to the same level and you will catch more,


Considering the above why not consider them a sport fish, use light tackle or fly rods and enjoy what they have to offer. This is a power packed fish, a sprinter of our seas!

Come on people lets see some RESPECT for the MACKEREL

When Can I Catch Mackerel

I only remembered this today while I was driving to the sea. It is a very simple rule that I was told many years ago and I remember that it works as a basic rule of thumb.

Its as simple as when you start to see flocks of Swallows there will be shoals of Mackerel. The Swallows get to different areas at different times depending on a number of variables, likewise the Mackerel.

So there you have it, your answer to When can I catch Mackerel from the shore

Let me know if it works for you???

How to catch Mackerel

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There a a lot of different methods for Mackerel fishing and it depends on your location and experience as to which method you should employ. The two many categories are:

  • Shore Mackerel fishing
  • Boat Mackerel fishing

Both of these platforms can be sub divided again depending on your requirements. If you want to catch a lot of  Mackerel for bait, from a boat, feathering for mackerel is the fastest way to get results. However if you are on a boat and want some great sport fishing, then a spinning rod with a single lure or SWFF (saltwater fly fishing ) will provide you with some stunning sport, two tops Mackerel fishing tips..

Beginners to Mackerel fishing


Mackerel Fishing
Mackerel Fishing

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I believe that Mackerel fishing, offers the new angler a great deal of confidence when setting out in the sport of sea fishing. They are not hard to catch from safe areas, you learn how to cast and handle fish, as well as learning a little on the best conditions to catch fish – this knowledge can be applied to other species.

  • Peir fishing – This allows you to fish in a decent depth of water, where fish such as Mackerel hold in the summer months. The structure you are fishing from is flat and easy to cast from. It is safe, as long as you fish in sensible conditions and choose a suitable area away from water craft . Use railings etc to prevent a fall!! If mackerel fishing with small children it might be worth purchasing buoyancy aids or a flotation suite. You can use a cheap fixed spool reel with a 10 – 12 foot rod suitable for casting 1 – 3 oz. 15 lb main line with 30lb shock leader or use 30lb line straight through.
  • Beach / Rock  fishing – Often harder to find a mark with deep water close by but still achievable. The location you will be mackerel fishing from will be un-stable and this can cause problems to newbies casting technique. The tackle used and rigs can be the same as above.  MackerelFishing from rocks or beaches is technically a little harder, so I would recommend a pier first!

The rigs you use differ depending on the Sport level you are looking for. Anything that uses multiple hooks for Mackerel fishing might take away from the fight. This is because the fish pull in different ways and you are fighting the dead weight not the individual fish! So the rigs are :

  • Sliding float – Thread a cigar float onto your main line, with a bead above it and one below.  Place a ball weight below this, enough to cock the float (make it stand up-right) another bead and then a swivel. The beads prevent abrasion! To the bottom of the swivel attach your trace, 3 foot of 10 lb line should do. Then attach your hook. Size 1/0 to 3/0 should do, here is a guide to fishing hook sizes . You then need to tie a top knot above the top bead. This prevents the float from riding up the line and the weight just going to the bottom of the sea! I would bait it with a strip of Sand eel or Squid and then get Mackerel fishing. You can adjust the depth you fish at by sliding the knot up your line!!
  • Feathers / lures – This is an easy set up for Mackerel fishing. You by your chosen lures I prefer the holographic silver type, but had great success for years on colored feathers. 3 to 4 lures on a string is plenty. Attach a swivel to your main line and tie the traces of mackerel lures onto your shock leader, not the loop end! Then attach your weight to the bottom loop and cast away!!!. You then let the lures stop on the sea bed and retrieve them by pumping the rod towards you then lower the rod tip and wind up the slack line. You can experiment the speed of the pumps under different conditions to see if this changes your catch rate. On broken ground, you want to retrieve fast to avoid any snags.

Advanced Mackerel fishing  Shore and Boat

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So you have been hauling Mackerel for years and are a good angler with a sound cast!!! Have you ever considered making more sport from your Mackerel fishing? A two pound Mackerel on matched gear will provide some great sport, the best being on SWFF tackle. Here are some “sporting” Mackerel fishing tips.

  1. Mackerel Traces – Rather than use a standard weight attach a perk from a boat or dexters wedge from the shore. You can get some interesting results!!
  2. Float fishing – Float fish a trace of Mackerel lures under your chosen cigar shaped float. You can cover a huge amount of water and a bit of bait (sand eel or squid) can increase catch rates. Gar fish love a bit of sand eel fillet!!
  3. SWFF Shore – Great sport. Choose hot sunny days with a good tidal range and use a floating line with a flashy lure. Mackerel Fish hard, not forgetting to fish close to the shore line (I have seen Mackerel hunting in 18 inches of water!). You don’t want to use heavier than a weight 8 set up.
  4. SWFF Boat/kayak – If the Mackerel are high in the water column, then use a sinking tip line or dry line with a weighted lure. The lighter the rod the better. I used a brook rod, 7 ft and had amazing sport from my kayak!!. For early season fish you can employ a fast sinking line and wait for the knocks and sport when you hook a channel racer!!!!!
  5. Spinning – A dexters wedge on light spinning gear will catch you lots of Mackerel, Bass and Pollock in the right locations. Fish all the depths and fish hard. Use balanced tackle and enjoy the fight… This is a great form of Mackerel fishing.

The Mackerel is a much underrated fish. Its tastes great cooked on th BBQ. Get out there and approach your sea fishing with a new out look. Let us know here how you get on, or other tips by commenting on this post about Mackerel fishing tips.

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