The Atlantic mackerel is a pelagic schooling species of mackerel found on both sides of the North Atlantic Ocean.
The Atlantic Mackerel is by far the most common of the ten species of the family that are caught in British waters. It is extremely common in huge shoals migrating towards the coast to feed on small fish and prawns during the summer.
Abundant in cold and temperate shelf areas, it forms large schools near the surface. They overwinter in deeper waters but move closer to shore in spring when water temperatures range between 11° and 14°C.
Male and female Atlantic mackerel grow at about the same rate, reaching a maximum age of about 20 years and a maximum fork length of about 47 cm. Most Atlantic mackerel are sexually mature by the age of three years.
Mackerel will eat anything smaller than themselves. Using live bait or trolling with cut up bait is best. Some New England anglers have found that using mackerel for bait for other mackerel works well.
When choosing tackle for this kind of fishing, the basic advice is: ‘anything goes’. You don’t need to buy expensive rods and associated items. In fact, if you trail a spinner over the stern of a slow moving boat or from a pier or jetty, you only need your line connected to a spinner handle and don’t actually need a rod at all! If you find a shoal, you’ll land plenty of fish.