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     As the summer gets closer, about the beginning of June, Atlantic Mackerel find their way into the harbors and rivers.  Using light tackle, about 5 to 8 pound test, these fish are enjoyable to catch!

     Presented here is general information of Atlantic Mackerel, its reproduction, habitat, food, fishing season, angling tips, handling and cooking.
  • General information:
    The Atlantic Mackerel is typically an open ocean fish with voracious feeding habits.  They travel in schools that often contain thousands of fish.  The swift swimming mackerel has a streamlined body and swims at high speeds for extended periods of time searching for food.  All individuals within a specific school tend to be the same size.  Since cruising speed increases significantly with age and size, scientists believe that conformity of body size within a specific school is necessary to allow all fish to maintain identical swimming speeds.  Mackerel may grow as large as 7 1/2 pounds and have a maximum age of about 20 years.

  • Reproduction:
    Mackerel reproduce from spring through summer, with more northerly fish spawning later in the season.  The mid-Atlantic Bight and the Gulf of St. Lawrence represent the two greatest spawning grounds for this species.  Mackerel spawn near the surface and the eggs float in the water column.  Many males and females reach sexual maturity at the age of 2 and all do so by 4.  The fecundity (number of eggs produces in a given spawning period) of females increases as a function of age and size, with an individual female spawning 550,000 to 1,000,000 eggs per season.

  • Habitat:
    The mackerel is native to both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.  On the US coast, it ranges along the continental shelf from Labrador south to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.  Most mackerel inhabit the inner half of the continental shelf with none straying beyond the shelf's outer edge.  Although frequently found near the water's surface in 45 to 55 degrees F, they can also be found as far down as 600 feet.

  • Food:
    Young mackerel feed on microscopic Copepod">copepods.  As they grow, they feed on progressively larger prey.  Adults will eat any fish smaller than themselves, feeding heavily upon small herring, sand lance and young mackerel.  They also consume a variety of invertebrates such as copepods, crab larvae, squid and shrimp.

  • Fishing Season:

  • Angling Tips:
    Atlantic mackerel can be found anywhere along the shore, from deep water to shallow bays.  Anglers fish for them from boats or shoreline sites such as piers, jetties, bridges and beaches.

    A medium spinning rod rigged with 15 pound test monofilament line is best for casting, although adventuresome anglers may use medium or light action spinning rods with a single 1 ounce mackerel jig (a good quality jig is a Bridgeport by Bead Tackle Co.) or a saltwater fly rod rigged with a streamer.  Any metal lure that resembles a sand eel or other bait fish can be used when casting (for example a miniature Hopkins, Kastmaster, or leadhead or even small plugs).

    Many anglers fishing from a boat use a mackerel tree, which is a small diamond jig preceded by several 1/0 surge tube worms.  These can be different colors or silver with red tips.  The tree is jigged so that it resembles a larger fish chasing small bait fish.  Typically the jig is dropped down 6 to 12 feet, lifted with a jerk, allowed to settle, this action should be repeated at a rapid pace.

    Mackerel can also be pursued with bait such as sand eels, sea worms, squid or small fish on long shank hooks with on line sinkers.  Mackerel strike hard and them momentarily release the bait before attempting to swallow it.  Therefore, the greatest success is achieved by setting the hook on the second strike.

  • Handling:
    Mackerel lose their flavor rapidly if they are not kept cold.  Fish should be iced immediately upon capture.

  • Cooking:
    Many people prefer marinating mackerel in citrus juices to lighten the full flavor that the oil imparts to the fish.  Marinated mackerel that has been cooked skin down on a covered grill provides the angler with a pleasurable ending to a day's successful fishing.

    Another way to prepare mackerel is first remove the head and tail, then split the fish down the back stopping just after entering the body cavity.  The fish will spread open, remove the entrails, wash the insides, cover the flesh with 1/8" real mayonnaise, grill first the flesh side then the skin side for about 10 - 15 minutes.

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     The remaining links to the right have my Boating, Fishing, Knot Tying, Fish Fileting and Tackle Tips pages.   Following those are my Search Engine pages, one with short descriptions and another in a table form, plus my Research Page.  Last but not least, is my Doll House Gallery featuring the Farmhouse and The Garfield!  These keep me busy in the winter.

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