Mackerel arrive on the shores of Anglesey in the summer months, in their millions to spawn and feed. They are, in good years plentiful here and If you get your timing right you can get a very nice bag of fish, its not uncommon to get 8 at a time. The cool strong tidal currents which drive past our island, bring with them lots of nutrients which the smaller bait fish thrive on. This in turn attracts the mackerel each year to feed on the smaller bait fish such as sandeel.
We get the most questions on the blog on mackerel fishing, how to catch them, with what gear and where. Hopefully for the new angler we can debunk the mysticism and make it very straight forward to catch a few Mackerel on your next fishing trip to Anglesey.
There are a few common rules of thumb to follow when fishing for Mackerel and after that you will be on your merry way with some fresh fish for the BBQ. For the purpose of this blog we will concentrate on show caught fish as opposed to boat and kayak fishing.
Tides and current
After just returning this morning form a semi productive rock fishing session on Anglesey for mackerel, I confirm that they are in on the west coast but not in the large numbers, as of yet. Spring tides are creeping up again now and will be full on the 13th, however the largest tide of July will occur on the 15th. Large tides can play a vital role in your catch rates on shore angling, as the current generated by the large tides spurs the fish like mackerel to feed more and move around more also.
This is not uncommon to other species too, spring tides can often produce the best results for a variety pf species all year around, again it boils down the the oceanographic components of tide and current bringing more food to the fish. Tides also act as motorways for the fish. They use the free energy of the tides to move from place to place conserving energy as they go.
So this mornings session was quite classic for tides and times. I fished 2 hours up until high tide (10am) on a 5.5m tide (thats quite a big tide) 3 days off maximum height. So the tides where big, current was strong, almost peak current occurs an hour before. So I positioned myself on a peak tide and peak current time. Now this is not to say you won’t catch fish on smaller tides and on smaller currents, what we are aiming to do is maximise chances.
Tackle is the most simple of all components to understand. Keep it simple! Most lures will work for mackerel, there are a host of types such as white feathers, flashers, tin foil, coloured feathers, small plastic fish, Sabikis and many many more. You can even make your own using white electrical tube cut and hung over your hook as we used to as children. I stick to 4 hooks, some people use upwards of 8 however, this puts a tremendous strain on reels and line, and ultimately it will have a damaging effect on your kit hauling in eight mackerel at a time from the shore.
I used spinning rods for Mackerel again. My rod of choice right now is a Savage bushwhacker 3-70z and it handles 4 big mackerel at a time easily. its not too heavy on your back and being glass fiver as opposed to carbon, you can be a little more unforgiving with it. I am not the most delicate of anglers and it suits my style well!
Reel today was an Abu Soron 50 and today, I was not on braided line but monofilament line 15lb straight through to the trace. I don’t enjoy fishing for mackerel with braid, I just find it too intense on the vibration, the mono filament has more give in it, which I feel softens the crazy runs of the fish.
Where I was fishing today near Ty Cross on Anglesey, the bait fish are shoaling just beneath your feet. This is important to note, as most anglers way over cast the fish they seek. I have learnt this from two sources. Old fisherman who know way more than me and snorkelling on the foreshore. Its easily done, but try to keep your range shorter than you would for your long range beach fishing. They are under your feet! Look for tidal edges, which look like smooth patches on the water that is where the fish can be sitting. Cast into these areas and test.
Move your casting range around until you hit them. A little trick a 70 year old fisherman by the name of Richard taught me, (by the way this guy routinely catchers bass of 11lb plus and releases them so he is a bit of a pro) He taught me to count as soon as the weight touches the water, then to test different water depths for the fish. Today I was catching them at 5 seconds down on a 4 oz lead (what ever that equates to) in water depth (half way of 10m I think ) and the spot I was catching them was on an edge of a tidal current.. say no more.
Ah Location.. yes the most important part to this fishing riddle. Where you fish counts, big style. Mackerel are veracious predatory fish that hunt sandeel, smelt, mullet and baitfish balls. They need food to feed. That means you have to find where their food source is. So approach your fishing or hunting sessions with a new set of eyes. If you see bait fish shoaling near the rocks and foreshore, there will be predators such as Bass, Pollock and mackerel there also.
I won’t give all my hard earned spots away to you all, as in part its too easy, pus I don’t particularly want every man and his dog at the locations we fish at! Locals tend to be very conservative of their spots and for good reason. Forums have made it very easy for every Joe to drive over, fish all night and leave their litter and line all over our wonderful island. I know this is not the majority of people, however its more the rule, rather than exception these days and we have learnt to be a little bit more secretive of our locations. You may be the same.
Also part of the process of this sport is learning local knowledge, asking tackle shops anglers and fisherman and deciphering the code to finding whats moving where and when. There is an infinite amount of chatter online about fishing spots and lot of is mostly fisherman stories. Results count, not stories. Speak to real people not forums.
Fish locations with steep shelving rock platforms, with tides that run well. Locations like Porth Gurddu, or Mackerel rock in Porth Daffarch is known well, so is Moylefre on the opposite side of Anglesey. Benllech on the east side of Anglesey can produce, as well as Llandudno pier. Today I was fishing on the Range, near Ty Croes, again a reigon with deep water at close reach and with fast currents. Ciam is well know but very hard to find without local knowledge. Penmon fishes very well and so does the Menai straits, but that place is so vast we need to do an entire blog on it. Holyhead Break water, Flat rocks in Porth Daffarch and in Treaddur Bay also produce too. Rhoscolyn is good, but best by boat and even Rhosneigr bay works well when the fish are shoaling in again by boat. Each place will have its own best fishing tides, times and tackle and its upto you guys to try and figure that part out. Fell free to ask me or drop me a mail if you wanter know more in depth.
Sustainability and our oceans
This part is more important than any of the rest of this blog. Our oceans are not evergreen, which means they can only cope with so much taking and not giving back. Greed is a curse in the fishing world and it will bring our dear sport into question more can more in the future. With Bass ban’s now common place due to over fishing (by the gill netters, trawlers and commercial fisherman I may add) Us line fisherman are at a loss on the short end of the stick.
We must all do our part not to over fish stocks, so that means not taking bags of 30, 40, 100 fish home at a time. Its senseless. Take what you can eat and a fish or two for the neigh hours but sure the rest for another day. This goes for every stock such as Bass, Herring and Pollock.
The second point is litter. Every day I go to fish there are more discarded plastics, line, bottles, crisp packets each day all thrown all over our beautiful coastline. This is appalling and its just outright lazy. If you see people discarding litter- shame them to picking it up. Most anglers are sensible and clean in the ways, the young however are not. Its up to us to school them. Take a extra bag with you, one for any litter you see and dispose of it in a bin. If everyone does this, we will win the battle of a messy coastline.
The last point is a little compassion. If you are going to take fish home, you have to kill them, there is no way of skipping this part. It is how you do this that is important. There are many ways to skin a cat and I’m not going to go in the gory details, however what I will say that its not fair to let a fish dry drown, so knock it on the head until it succumbs and let it pass away that way rather than letting the poor thing flay all around the rocks until it drowns. I see enough of this, and I quite openly mention it to younger anglers.
Tips and tricks
Take two bags one for fish one for trash.
Take an assortment of rigs to test if ones are not working.
You may need to alter size of hooks on them if you are missing bites.
Take a cloth or rag, Mackerel scales get everywhere. Scissors, knife, extra weights are all musts.
Sturdy footwear and a life jackets of you are not a swimmer is a good idea.
Swivels, snap links and extra main line is useful or a second reel.
look at location at low water to suss out and prevent snags later on hidden reef at high tide.
Take a hat, shades and extra layer, thermal winds can build in summer and cool you down quick.
Fishing holdall thats easy to use and doubles up as your fish carrier- I use a Titan fish bag.
Go speak to your local tackle shop and see what been coming up and where before travelling from afar to save a wasted trip.
Get yourself and old carp rod from a car boot sale, these are excellent fishing rods on the lure.
Tackle shops in :
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