How to Catch Mackerel: Tips and Techniques for Successful Fishing

Mackerel is a popular fish that can be found in many saltwater areas around the world. It is a great fish to catch for both novice and experienced anglers alike, as it is relatively easy to catch and provides a fun challenge. In this article, we will provide you with some tips and tricks on how to catch mackerel.

One of the easiest ways to learn how to catch mackerel is by using feathers or daylights. Feathering from a pier is a popular summer activity, and targeting mackerel with feathers can be extremely effective. All you need is a sturdy rod, weights, and some feather rigs. A set of feathers imitates a shoal of baitfish, and a “pull and wind” retrieve gives the best action. Another effective way to catch mackerel is by using a baited sabiki rig. This rig consists of a set of small hooks that are baited with small pieces of mackerel or other baitfish. The rig is then lowered into the water, and the mackerel will often bite on the hooks.

Knowing how to catch your own bait is an inexpensive way of obtaining amazing hook baits and chum, and wherever you fish, there are few better baits than fresh mackerel. Use the glowstick like a big float or bobber and fish near pier lights or where baitfish congregate with small strips of fresh mackerel belly with the white flesh on a size 8 to 1 hook a few feet under the float. With these tips and tricks, you’ll be catching mackerel in no time.

Equipment and Gear How to Catch Mackerel

When it comes to mackerel fishing, having the right equipment and gear can make all the difference. Here are some things to consider:

Rods and Reels

For mackerel fishing, a spinning rod and reel combo is a popular choice. A 7 to 8-foot rod with a medium action and a fast taper is ideal. Look for a reel that can hold at least 150 yards of 10 to 12-pound monofilament or braid line.

Lines and Leaders

When it comes to fishing line, monofilament or fluorocarbon in the 10 to 12-pound range is a good choice for mackerel fishing. For leaders, a 20 to 30-pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon line is recommended, especially if you’re targeting larger fish or fishing in areas with a lot of structure.

Baits and Lures

Mackerel are attracted to shiny, flashy lures like spoons and spinners. Sabiki rigs with small hooks and shiny beads are also effective. When it comes to bait, fresh mackerel is a popular choice, but other options like shrimp, live bait, and even eels can work well.

It’s important to match your bait or lure to the size of the fish you’re targeting. For mackerel, a size 1 hook is a good choice.

Overall, the key to successful mackerel fishing is to experiment with different baits and lures until you find what works best in your area. Don’t be afraid to try new techniques and switch things up if you’re not getting any bites.

Remember to always check local regulations and guidelines before fishing, especially during spawning season or in protected habitats. And as always, practice safe and responsible angling techniques to protect the fish and their habitat.

Location and Time

When it comes to catching mackerel, location and timing are crucial factors that can make or break your fishing trip. In this section, we will discuss the best coastal locations and seasonal timing to catch mackerel.

Coastal Locations

Mackerel can be found in coastal waters all around the world, making them a popular target for anglers. When fishing for mackerel, it is best to look for areas with a lot of baitfish, as mackerel tend to congregate around these areas. Coastal piers, jetties, and rocky shorelines are all great places to start.

If you have access to a boat, you can also try trolling for mackerel in deeper waters. Look for areas with a lot of small fish, as this is what mackerel feed on. Kayak fishing is also a popular option for catching mackerel, as it allows you to get closer to the action.

Seasonal Timing

The best time to catch mackerel is during the summer months, when water temperatures are warmer. Mackerel tend to migrate closer to the coast during this time, making them easier to catch from shore.

Dawn and dusk are also good times to catch mackerel, as they tend to feed more actively during these times. Night fishing can also be productive, as mackerel are attracted to light and will often feed near the surface.

It is important to note that mackerel are a saltwater species, so you will need to fish in saltwater environments to catch them. Additionally, mackerel tend to be more active in rougher seas, so don’t be afraid to venture out into choppier waters if you’re not having any luck in calmer conditions.

In summary, when fishing for mackerel, it is important to choose the right location and time. Look for areas with a lot of baitfish and fish during the summer months for the best chance of success. Whether you’re fishing from shore or from a boat, mackerel can be a fun and rewarding species to target.

Techniques and Tips

When it comes to catching mackerel, there are several techniques and tips that can increase your chances of success. Here are some of the most effective methods:

Float Fishing

Float fishing is a popular technique for catching mackerel. It involves using a float or bobber to suspend your bait at a certain depth. This technique is ideal for fishing near pier lights or where baitfish congregate. To set up your rig for float fishing, use a size 8 to 1 hook and a few feet of leader line with a small strip of fresh mackerel belly or shrimp as bait. Cast your line and wait for the float to dip or move, indicating that a fish has taken the bait.


Trolling is another effective technique for catching mackerel, especially when fishing from a boat. This technique involves dragging a lure or baited hook behind your boat at a slow speed. Use a spoon or spinner lure in a range of colors to attract mackerel. When trolling, it’s important to vary your speed and direction to mimic the movement of baitfish.


Casting is a great technique for catching mackerel from shore or a jetty. Use a spinning rod and reel with a light line and a small size 1 hook. Cast your line out and retrieve it with a steady, slow retrieve. This technique is particularly effective when fishing in areas with structure, such as rocks or weed beds.

Bottom Fishing

Bottom fishing is a technique that involves dropping your bait to the ocean floor and waiting for mackerel to take the bait. This technique is ideal for catching larger mackerel or when fishing in deeper waters. To set up your rig for bottom fishing, use a dropper loop or a sabiki rig with multiple hooks. Use a fresh strip of mackerel, eel, or live baitfish as bait.

When fishing for mackerel, it’s important to use the right tackle and bait. Use a light spinning rod and reel with a mainline of monofilament or braid with a breaking strain of at least 10 pounds. Use a leader of fluorocarbon or monofilament with a breaking strain of 6 to 10 pounds. When choosing bait, use fresh mackerel, shrimp, or live baitfish.

Remember to vary your fishing technique and location based on the season and habitat of mackerel. During the spawning season, mackerel tend to move closer to shore, making them easier to catch from a jetty or shore. In the summer months, mackerel are more abundant in deeper waters, making boat fishing more effective.

Overall, catching mackerel can be a fun and rewarding experience for anglers of all skill levels. With the right technique and tackle, you can increase your chances of catching this game fish.


In conclusion, catching mackerel can be a fun and rewarding experience for anglers of all levels. Whether you choose to use feathers, lures, or bait, there are several effective techniques to catch these fish.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when mackerel fishing is to pay attention to the weather and water conditions. Mackerel are more likely to be active in calm, clear waters with plenty of sunlight.

Additionally, it’s important to use the right equipment and bait for the job. Sabiki rigs, feathers, and lures can all be effective when used properly. When using bait, fresh mackerel belly is a popular choice, but other baits such as sand eels or squid can also work well.

Finally, it’s important to remember to always follow local fishing regulations and guidelines to ensure the sustainability of the mackerel population. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to catching your own delicious mackerel.

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