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02 Oct

Fishing For Summer Spanish 101

The Spanish Mackerel is one of the first fish that welcome the summer fishing season each year. While the summer season has been here for weeks, it’s still a great time to fish for the Spanish. As a matter of fact, the largest Spanish of the season commonly come into the area at the beginning of the season and at the end. We should start seeing these schools of bigger Spanish Mackerel in the next few weeks as they migrate south. Spanish fishing can remain good until mid-October and sometimes later depending on when the cooler weather arrives.

This 101 will give you a few tips that can make fishing for these schooling fish more productive. First, you have to decide if you want to troll or cast. Trolling seems to be the most popular tactic along the Carolina Coast, but casting is catching up in popularity. I prefer trolling since it will work when the schooling baits are on both the top and bottom.

First thing is to make sure you’re rigged and ready. Spanish Mackerel are open water terminal predators that are always looking for flashes that resemble the glass minnows they feed on. I prefer the 00 Clark Spoon, both in gold and silver colors.  I start with a mix of colors to see which is working the best for that particular day. I put the spoons on a 15 foot leader of  12# fluorocarbon. I place 2 long lines out, weighted by a torpedo weight and about 35 and 50 feet respectively behind the boat while moving at a slow speed. I make sure to stagger the lures at different lengths to keep them from crossing and tangling during turns.  Then I place the next 2 with the same leader configuration, only this time I connect them to a small planner to take the lures deeper. I place the first lure on the planner about 20 feet off the stern and the second only about 10 feet off the stern making sure to place my longer planner rig on the same side as the long line lure with the torpedo weight. Again, setting the rigs while the boat is moving. Since I’m trolling, I use conventional reels. I set the drag on the on the weighted long lines at a medium drag that allows the weight of the Mackerel to set off the drag when the fish hits. I set the lines with the planners completely tight due to the pressure of the planners in the water.


Now I’m ready to start fishing. First, I start looking for birds diving and hitting the bait balls. If the bait is breaking the water’s surface, it’s good indication that Spanish Mackerel are in the area, so I head that way. Keeping my boat out of the bait balls while pulling my lines near the edge of the moving bait while watching the lines to make sure they’re not tangled. I continue this process. I keep a sharp eye on the proximity of by lures. I also watch the rods with the planners to see if the rod tips are bouncing, which indicates a fish has tripped the planner. I also listen for the long line rod’s reels for the sound of line peeling off that also indicates a fish is one. Then it’s time to reel the line up to the leader and hand line the fish onto the deck. I make sure to let the line fall back into the water to keep the line from becoming twisted or tangled.

If the birds are not working that day, I head for an area that may have underwater structure that could be holding bait deeper. This is a spot that the planners may be more effective.

Additional Tips

  • Watch for other boats that may also be trolling. Take care to not cross your lines.
  • Don’t make your turns too severe. This will cause your lines to cross and tangle
  • Use a good swivel to connect your leader to the main line. Cheap swivels will only seize up and cause your lure to spin.
  • Check your lures at least every 30 minutes to make sure that the lure has not been cut off.
  • Troll along the beach in the more shallow water (not too shallow). Frequently the bait will be driven towards the beach by predators, thus leaving an exit more limited.


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