Mackerel Fishing: 11 Top Tips For Capital Mackerel


Mackerel fishing is very popular with many anglers. Especially on strong days a variety of mackerel can be fished. Sometimes even between 50 and 100 mackerels are possible on a single day.

This happens especially when a cutter is used to fish through a huge mackerel swarm in the North or Baltic Sea. On such days there is probably nothing more beautiful for an angler.

So you should definitely try your luck if you really want to experience something.

In this article we will give you tips and tricks on how to catch nice and thick mackerel. We start with a short introduction about the mackerel as a fish. This should sensitize you for your future catch.

Because mackerel fishing will be easier for you if you know exactly what you want to fish and which characteristics and peculiarities the fish has.

Mackerel (Scomber scombrus)

Mackerel (also Scomber scombrus) can reach a weight of up to 3.5 kg. It lives predominantly in seas and oceans.

Its distribution areas include the North Atlantic, the North Sea and the Mediterranean. It also occurs in the Baltic Sea. However, it does not have its own population here, but uses the Baltic Sea only for “transit”. Flocks of mackerel prefer to stay in the open water zone.

The mackerel is characterized by its dark banding and the spots under the lateral line.

In winter they gather in suitable places in coastal waters in layers of water near the bottom.

Spawning season & closed seasons + minimum size

Although there is genetic similarity, mackerel living off North America have a different pattern than the rest. Some of them spawn between April and May in the mid-Atlantic and others only spawn in June or July in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

There are also two different stocks of mackerel off the coasts of Europe. One part spawns in the North Sea and the other west of the British Isles. The spawning season usually begins when the water temperature reaches 11 to 14 degrees Celsius.

Up to 450,000 eggs are released at the surface off the coast. The eggs drift to the surface and drift apart over time due to the currents.

During the spawning season, mackerel fishing may not be carried out in certain federal states under the respective conditions.

Below are the current spawning seasons and minimum sizes:

Incidentally, the young fish seek out deeper layers of water in autumn.

Tips on mackerel fishing equipment

Every year, various mackerel fishing competitions are held in the USA and also in Germany. To survive here a good equipment is indispensable which we would like to introduce to you in the following.

Mackerel rod – Which rod should you use?

You should choose a rod that is between 2.45 and 3 m long. As casting weight it is recommended to use his weight from 150 g to 500 g.

Below you will find a comparison chart to help you find the best mackerel rod for you and your needs. Because it is not always easy to answer the question which rod is the best for mackerel fishing.

Hold your Smartphone for a better view across when you view this page with a Smartphone.

But now to the table:

By the way: In our opinion a nice beginner mackerel rod is the displayJenzi Dega sea rod Mackerel MK 300 3, 00m 80-200g. It is currently offered at Amazon and is in our opinion very cheap in the materials used.

A slightly higher quality model, with which we have also made good experience in mackerel fishing, is the AnzeigeTeam Daiwa Pilk. The casting weight is 100 to 200 g with a total length of 2.40 m.

With both mackerel rods you can’t do much wrong. Otherwise we recommend the rods from the table.


For mackerel fishing, stationary reels are best suited as reels. This should be able to hold at least 100 m of a 0.45 mm fishing line.

Multi-reels on the other hand are often overrated and above all more expensive. We have had the best experience with a stationary reel.

Here we can recommend the (display)Penn Gold Label Series Slammer Spinning Reel This one is not so expensive and has a sufficient line capacity.

And this is what it looks like:

(Steel) Leader & which line to use best?

A steel leader is very important when fishing for mackerel and should be used in any case. The sharp teeth can cut the leader very quickly.

Here we can recommend theZEBCO MAKRELENVORFACH display. This has proven itself over all these years and is also not so expensive.

When fishing for mackerel, for example, the color is the deciding factor. On some days, for example, the colour used the day before may not work as well as on the current day. Here you should simply vary a little.

We recommend a monofilament fishing line with a diameter of 0.45 mm. Monofilament fishing lines are simply more stretchy when you pull them in. Therefore the risk of line breakage is not so high.

What else do you need

When the mackerel is caught it should be stunned immediately with a fishkiller and then killed with a fish knife.

After that you usually put the mackerel in a locked cool box to slow down the decomposition process. Or you take them out directly. For this you need a simple knife:

Then you can cut the mackerel relatively easily:

Here is a nice video about the right equipment for mackerel fishing:

The right bait for mackerel fishing

For mackerel fishing natural bait and artificial bait are very popular. In addition, many anglers also practice fly fishing for mackerel fishing. Therefore flies are also very often used.

After spawning, mackerel hunt fish such as herring, san eels and sprat. Therefore bait fish are really excellent for fishing for mackerel.

A very promising species is trolling with live bait fish (prohibited in Germany). This form of fishing is mainly practiced in the USA. Mackerel are fished both in the shore area and on the open sea.

Below is an overview of caught mackerel baits that have proven to be very good for us in the past:

  • Herrings (bait fish)
  • Sana eels (bait fish)
  • Sprat (bait fish)
  • Mackerel flies as artificial bait (on cloudy days, bright mackerel flies are particularly suitable)
  • Coastal wobbler (artificial bait)
  • Sea trout wobbler (artificial bait)
  • Spinner (artificial bait)
  • Small pilk (artificial bait)

By the way: Mackerel does not feed in winter. After hibernation they filter zooplankton from the water.

Many predatory fish also feed on mackerel. Therefore, mackerel can also be used as bait itself.

To bait a complete mackerel, a single hook should be placed in the lower jaw.

This should be placed in the middle of the skull between the eyes to prevent it from slipping off. The hook should be placed on the head as most predatory fish attack their prey on the head.

Mackerel mount for fishing for mackerel

A mackerel paternoster is often used as a mounting for fishing for mackerel. This is a mackerel mount with four or five short side lines or side arms.

Various factors can have a massive influence on the success. We will go into this in more detail in a moment.

In order to always have the correct assembly with you, we recommend our book “The best fishing assemblies”.

What do you need for the Paternoster assembly?

The following materials and utensils are ideally required for a paternoster assembly with 4 side lines or side arms:

  • Main line
  • 4 x three-way swivel
  • 4 x mackerel hook size 4 to 6
  • 4 x mouth line 0,40 mm
  • 4 x leader 0, 40 mm
  • Lead – 200 to 1000 g

If you decide to use 5 instead of 4 side arms to increase your chances of catching a fish, you will of course need correspondingly more materials.

The paternoster assembly consists of approx. 2 m long monofilament fishing line. In any case you should use hooks that are equipped with springs.

Here you can vary a little bit and try out different colours. The following colours are available:

  • Yellow
  • White
  • Red
  • Green
  • Orange

Especially yellow and white feathers have proved to be catchy for mackerel in the past. Alternatively you can use smaller rubber attractors.

When fishing for mackerel, smaller fishing hooks have the advantage that they hook better into the mouth of the mackerel. This reduces the number of false bites.

As an alternative to building your own, we can recommend the Norwegian Paternoster Herring System. With this you get everything already delivered.

How is the paternoster assembly set up?

In principle the assembly is relatively simple. You have a main line on which you hang the 3-way swivels.

The mouth cords are attached to this with hook + spring. At the very end is the lead.

The following illustration illustrates the relatively simple structure of the paternoster assembly:

Extra tip: If you hang in all the colours on the side arms of the paternoster right at the beginning, you can easily determine which colour works best on the respective day. So on the first arm red, on the second arm yellow and so on.

When should you go mackerel fishing?

To be successful on mackerel the late spring or summer is best. This is usually the mackerel season.

To be specific: Mid May to September you have the highest chances of capital mackerel. During the cold seasons (winter) you should avoid fishing for mackerel.

Where should you fish for mackerel?

In Germany you have very good chances on Sylt and on Helgoland.

But you can also go fishing for mackerel in the Baltic Sea. However, there is no mackerel stock here. On the other hand, you rather access “passing” mackerels. These are especially noticeable in the summer in the mackerel season.

You have much better chances of catching mackerel in Holland, Denmark and Sweden. But also the countries Norway and Ireland are recommendable.

Types of fishing – How should you fish for mackerel?

There are different fishing methods that will make your hide more or less successful. We will therefore go into fishing from the shore, fishing with a pose and fishing from a cutter or boat below.

Which fishing method you ultimately choose is of course up to you. The local conditions also play an important role here.

Mackerel fishing from shore

Not everyone has a fishing boat or cutter. That’s why many choose to fish from the shore or the riverbank and various beaches. This has the advantage that you can start fishing immediately.

But what is important to pull the thickest mackerels out of the salt water here? explains.

Which baits to use on shore?

If you want to fish for mackerel from the shore, you should know where the mackerel’s food fish are. These are:

  • Herrings
  • Sand eels
  • Sprat

Because where they are, the mackerel are usually not far away. It is always decisive how big the bait is. Because this very often decides on the success of the catch. If it is a larger lure, you can usually expect a bigger fish.

And the best thing is: If you were successful with one lure, the chance is very high that other mackerels will “jump on” the lure at exactly this time. Because the mackerels often shoot themselves on a bait together.

So when you have found a suitable lure, you should keep it for the time being. But sometimes it can take quite a long time until the first mackerel bites.

Be patient here!

It is also important: Once you have landed a mackerel, use the bait size for the following casts. Because similar to the lure applies here as well: The mackerel “shoot” themselves to a certain size.

Therefore you should adjust your lure accordingly.

By the way: Even with simple flies you can be successful via the paternoster assembly on the shore. If the water is clear, use natural bait as much as possible. On cloudy, dark days, however, you should use bright (i.e. conspicuous) baits.

These have a stronger contrast and increase your chances of success.

What else should you look out for on the shore?

If you want to fish from the shore, there are a few things you should look out for. Just near the shore you’ll find the mackerel in the upper third from the bottom. There they hunt other smaller fish.

So put your paternoster in position in the upper third. In the following illustration you can orientate yourself by the red lines:

But if you don’t feel a bite and the mackerels bite, you can of course try it in deeper places and let your bait “sink” a bit.

Sometimes gulls circling around can be a good sign. These also like to pounce on the small food fish.

Watch out for seagulls that suddenly dive into the water.

What is the best time on shore?

You have the best chances at dusk. Position your assembly where you can see small fish jumping out of the water. This is a sign that the mackerels have started to hunt.

Once you have discovered the small fish you should place your bait as close as possible to the shoal. Here the hide can sometimes “pull” itself into the late evening hours.

Which equipment is the best on shore?

Especially in piers or from a rock, you should use a mackerel rod with 60 to 80 g casting weight.

They usually have a length of 2.70 m to 3.30 m. If you don’t want to fish with a paternoster, a simple bait such as a pilker or spinner is also suitable.

The advantage is that the drill is usually more intense. However, you can of course not land several mackerels directly because of this.

Mackerel fishing with the pose

During the day it is recommended to fish for mackerel with a running pose. Especially during the day it can take a while until the next bite comes or the first mackerels start to bite.

You can also adjust the depth much more precisely with a running pose. When you fish in pose you should use sand eels or herring pieces as bait.

This has been the best experience. Of course it makes sense to use a pose mounting when sea fishing.

What do you need for pose mounting?

Below is a list of all the equipment you need for pose mounting:

  • Running pose
  • Swivel
  • Lead shot / running lead
  • Leader with hook (size 1 or 1/0)
  • Bait sand eels or herring

Optionally you can use additional beads to protect the knots.

How is the pose assembly structured?

Pose assembly always depends on the right shape, colour and load-bearing capacity.

For mackerel it is recommended to use a hook size of 1 or 1/0 if you want to fish with pose. For the leader you should use a 0.45 mm thick monofilament fishing line that is approx. 20 cm long.

To get the widest casts possible you should always weigh down the pose mounting with a perforated lead. This usually allows you to make more casts and reach more “remote” places.

Optionally you can also protect the knots with a bead. The knots will dissolve less quickly.

The following illustration shows the structure for mackerel fishing:

This way you can’t usually go wrong.

Mackerel fishing from a cutter or boat

You can fish for mackerel from a fishing cutter or boat north of Langeoog and Baltrum, for example. Here the probability is very high that you will land the coveted mackerel.

It is best to make an appointment in advance to reserve one of the coveted spots.

The best time

The best time to be successful on mackerel is from the end of May to the end of August. Here it can very well be that you get one mackerel after the other ashore (or on deck).

If you do not want to put the mackerels back, you should prepare a cool box with some ice to keep the fish safe.

Especially at warmer temperatures you can delay the decomposition process and the mackerels are edible for a longer time.

What should you pay attention to with the equipment?

Of course you should be prepared with the appropriate equipment on the cutter or boat. Because nothing is more annoying than when the rod suddenly “fails”.

Here is an overview which you can use as a guide:

  • Mackerel rod: 2.70 to 3 m (casting weight 150 to 250 g)
  • Fixed reel: large
  • Fishing line: monofilament 0,45 mm thick
  • Deep-sea swivel
  • Plastic bead

You use the plastic bead so that the deep-sea swivel does not get caught in the rings of your rod.

This prevents unnecessary line twist when winding in.

The right assembly & the right lure

For assembly we recommend to use a paternoster assembly from the cutter or from the boat. This should be weighted down with a 100 to 250 g heavy lead so that the complete assembly sinks quickly.

As soon as a mackerel has bitten, you should slowly but surely crank it in.

As all the passengers on the cutter are usually close together, you should also make sure that your paternoster does not get caught with your neighbour’s.

This could otherwise lead to unwanted twisting of the line.

The mounts should be fitted with springs or, alternatively, rubber tractors. Try to vary the colours a little or to take several colours directly with you. So you can test several colours against each other during your boat trip.

Also here you should choose the hook rather too small than too big.

What is the right depth?

You should try to offer the paternoster assembly in all imaginable depths. So not only the base is ideal, but also the layers above it.

Once a bite has been made, you should wait a little longer before cranking it in. Since the mackerels are in shoals the bite is very high for another bite.

2 to 4 bites are not uncommon if you have found the right place.


Following is a 9 minute video about mackerel fishing from the cutter or boat. Just have a look at the small documentation about deep sea fishing:


If you take our mackerel fishing tips into account, you can greatly increase your chances of success. Because whether you fish from the shore or from a boat/cutter is of little importance. The main thing is that the equipment is right.

And if you were really successful, you can simply throw it on the grill later:

We wish you good luck.

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