Spanish Mackerel Fishing Tricks of the Trade
Fishing for Spanish Mackerel on a warm weekend morning is a mainstay of fishing along the Atlantic coast. It combines being able to fish from your small boat while ocean fishing and doesn’t require a lot of expensive bait or tackle. It makes for a nice day of trolling near the beach having a nice chat with those on board as you wait for the reel to start singing or watching the planner rod start flipping up and down. While it seems pretty easy, there are a few points to Spanish Mackerel fishing you have to get right. That means the difference between a good day and a bad day. So I went to legendary North Carolina fishing guide, Captain Dennis Barbour for his tips on making Spanish fishing both fun and successful.
Depending on the season and the water depth he uses the smaller Clarkpoons. Known as the “go-to” lure for Spanish Mackerel, Clarkspoons have long been the most popular lure for Spanish Mackerel fishing. With many sizes and colors available, picking the right one is key. I use a range of #00, #01, and #1 Clarkspoons depending on the size of the fish we locate. Gold and Silver are my most effective colors. While many fishermen use other colors, I’ve found that silver and gold are the most consistent. They seem to also be the favorite colors of most of the older, veteran charter captains and guides.
Next, I rig the spoon with a #2 or #3 planer since most Spanish Mackerel feed subsurface. Frequently you will see them coming to the surface which happens when they are chasing bait. A Spanish Mackerel’s tactic is to leave the bait with nowhere to run. For those new to using planers, make sure to rig the planners properly. First-time users commonly will rig them backward, so make sure your planner pulls your rig into deeper water, not just bouncing around on the surface.
The leader I use is made of 20 to 25-pound fluorocarbon. I use fluorocarbon because it’s harder for the Spanish to see than braid and monofilament. The Spanish have great vision and fishing near the surface means plenty of light that makes it possible form to see the mono line. The leader is 30 feet in length. That’s what I said, 30 feet in length. Again, putting the spoon far away from the flash of the planner. Now here’s a tip you really need to remember! While attaching the leader to the planner use 2 swivels. Using only 1 or even no swivels to attach your lure and leader behind the planner can result in the spoon spinning and creating a line twist. Line twist can result in not only a mess of your line but also impacts the way the Spanish view your lure. Two swivels are a step that will save you time and remove the aggravation of fishing a twisted line while allowing your spoon to attract more effectively and catch more fish.
Lastly, start looking for the birds and the baitfish breaking the water. Set your boat speed at about 17 mph and put your lines in the water. Don’t drive over the bait pods, instead, stay outside of them and pull your lines through them or just on the edges. Keep an eye out for the planners to pop up and start reeling.