Getting to Know the Spanish Mackerel

While you’re shopping for fishing equipment at Eat My Tackle, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the Spanish mackerel, as it’s one of the species you’re bound to come across in your fishing adventures. Officially known as Scomberomorus maculatus, the Spanish mackerel is smaller than the king mackerel, but it is just as intense and aggressive when it’s caught on your hook.


The majority of Spanish mackerel anglers catch weigh 1 to 3 lbs. but bigger ones in the range of 7 to 8 pounds are not unheard of. If you’re looking for trophy fish, the Spanish mackerel needs to weigh at least 10 lbs., with the record holder being 13 lbs. which was caught in North Carolina in 1987.

What Tackle Should be Used?

It depends on the fish’s size but generally light to medium tackle will do fine. Spinning gear is the optimum choice if you’re going after small to medium sized Spanish mackerel, but conventional fishing tackle is preferred if you are looking to land trophy sized fish.

Spanish mackerels are known for their huge appetites and go after prey in packs, and these packs go after baitfish schools in droves. When this happens, seabirds dive down from the skies and try to take part in the activity, and the commotion and confusion are such you can see this even from some distance away. When you see those seabirds coming down, it’s a sign there’s a Spanish mackerel feeding frenzy going on.

Baits and Lures

Even if there is no feeding frenzy, you can still catch several of them via slow trolling of small feathers, plugs or spoons, preferably around high ridges and other spots where you’ll be able to spot any feeding frenzy or other activities. There’s no lacking of lures to try, but shiny spoons have proven to be quite effective not just for Spanish mackerel but also sardines and mullet.

Cut bait and squid strips are also effective in drawing the fish in. Having live fresh bait is always a good thing but that is not mandatory because even if the bait has been frozen before, Spanish mackerel will still go for it.

Onshore vs. Boat

Some anglers prefer to catch their Spanish mackerel while on a boat but others are more comfortable with onshore fishing. It really doesn’t matter which of the two methods you use, as what really counts is the quality of the water: the water needs to be clear so you won’t have any difficulty seeing the fish.

Depending on the situation you may have to go waist or chest deep into the waters to make the best cast. This method usually pays off as you can see the fish just grazing the surface or swimming by shallow waters. Spanish mackerel are fast especially when they’re going after prey. For the best results, your reel should have a 6:1 retrieve rate to generate a strike, and these fish will also go after a streamer fly provided it is properly set.

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