(Scomber Scombrus)

The mackerel is one of the hardest fighting sea species. With some similarity in looks to its relative the tuna fish, mackerel are built for speed and power. The head is pointed and the sleek, slim body resembles a torpedo, finishing off with a large, forked tail. It has a very distinctive colouration with a metallic, marine blue back, shaded over with black bars. When the fish is removed from water the colour soon fades away to a dull grey.

The white flanks and underside of the species are covered with a film of silver, pink, gold and blue which shines like a rainbow. The mackerel spends its time in search of fry and sandeels. They will charge headlong into a shoal of fry, twisting and turning at speed with mouths open until they catch their prey. Mackerel are often caught on feathers or while float fishing. Being a shoal fish mackerel can be caught in great numbers. It is thought that the mackerel never stops swimming and as they are always on the move, more water passes through the gills, helping them to breathe more easily while maintaining fast, active movement. Spawning in the months of January through to June, they are a slow-growing species and it is thought that a mackerel of 1lb in weight could be as old as eight years.

Where To Find Them

Mackerel can be found off most piers and breakwater walls around the UK. They are present in large numbers around the coastline of Cornwall and other hot spots include the North Yorkshire coastline, the south of Ireland and west Scotland. Hope's Nose and Berry Head in Devon are well-known mackerel marks.

When To Find Them

April to October, with the peak season for the shore angler in June and July. During the winter Mackerel head for the deeper, warmer waters of the Irish Sea, while in the spring they move back into the shallow waters. Huge shoals can often be seen breaking the surface as they chase brit or sandeels in summer.

Natural Food and Best Baits

Plankton, squid, brit, whitebait, sandeels and any small fry.

Tips and Tactics

When fishing with float tackle, fish the bait very shallow, set at a depth of 4 It or even less. Mackerel spend a lot of time near the surface chasing smaller fry.

UK Records

Shore: 5lb 11oz

Boat: 6lb 2oz