Downeast Mackerel

Atlantic mackerel aren’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. But for someone who only gets to fish for them once a year (sometimes less) it’s something to look forward to. This time the fish were fairly plentiful and they were running bigger than what I’m used to.

Conditions the week of August 6th were good in Downeast Maine. Sunny skies, wind light to none. Overcast would arguably have been better, but sun is okay so long as you’ve got eye protection (I did). The diamond jig continued to produce well, with 1/3 oz being ideal. I used a sabiki rig for the first time and can readily understand why they are so popular. Lots of average size mackerel were caught, along with several sizable fish landed and a few that were pushing up on maximum size.

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In my experience, this is about as big as Atlantic Mackerel get!

The kids had fun in spite of fishing from a floating dock in windy conditions with lots of waves.  I don’t think they believed at first that we’d catch anything but once we got into fish hookups were nearly every cast. Ella developed a technique of removing a fish from the hook without touching it- simply haul the fish out of the water and hold it over the tote bin we were putting fish in and wait for it to flop off on it’s own. I lost a nice fish that may have been the biggest of the trip. I got a good look at it and it was likely 16 inches or bigger. It is remarkable how hard a large mackerel fights. I honestly think they pull harder than a trout of comparable size and, although they don’t make long runs, they are fast! I was by no means over-equipped with a 6’6″ medium action spinning rod with 6 lb line and would have preferred 8 lb.

We had several days calm enough to fish in the canoe close to shore and met with good results. Floating weeds were a nuisance but with accurate casting could usually be avoided.

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The two on the bottom are typical size. Number three is good-sized and the top one is a big one!

I tried fishing from shore and was surprised to find that it worked fairly well. The only difficulty was remembering to move back as the tide came in. Larger fish, when hooked, did what they always do and headed for rocks, weeds and any other cover they could find but I didn’t loose any to such hazards. It was a good time for sure and I’m glad the kids got to have the experience. My only regret is that I didn’t use a fly rod!

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