Surf Casting Florida
Learn how to catch more fish off of the beach.
What are the best lures for Spanish mackerel?
Spanish mackerel are a very fun fish to catch. They will rip of some serious drag on light tackle making them an exciting fish to catch off of the beach. They are fish feeders and seem to focus mostly on anchovies, minnows and various other long and sleeve species of fish. This does not mean that they won’t eat a mullet or a sardine but they love minnow shaped fish. This means that you will love to use minnow shaped lures if you want to catch a bunch of Spanish mackerel off of the beach.
I am a kayak fishing guide on the Treasure Coast of Florida. I have fished the beaches, grass flats, mangroves, oyster bars…….. all over Florida for more then 40 years. In the article below, I will teach you the best lures for catching mackerel in the surf.
Let’s get started.
Here are my best lures for catching Spanish mackerel:
1) SPOONS- It is hard to go wrong with a spoon when you are surf fishing. Spoons will catch just about every fish that is at the beach. You can catch mackerel, bluefish, tarpon, snook, redfish, jack crevalle, ladyfish, pompano, whiting, flounder……….. and the list goes on and on. My point is that you don’t need to bring any other lure than a spoon once you learn how to use one.
What you need to know about using spoons for Spanish mackerel is that faster is better. Spanish mackerel like to come up behind their prey and bite their tails off. So they are coming in from behind of your spoon when you get the hit. This is a good thing because you can use wire leader and not have to worry too much about scaring them away from your lure.
Spanish mackerel, Cero mackerel and King mackerel are all pretty much the same. Just give them something shiny to hit and move it relatively fast and they will usually bite your lures.
You will want to bring an assortment of sizes depending upon where the mackerel are in relation to the shore. If they are far out, then you might need a 2 ounce spoon to get to them. If they are in close, then you might only need a 1/2 ounce spoon to get at them.
Notice that all of the spoons in the picture below have a barrel swivel attached to them. You have got to use a barrel swivel to minimize the line twist when you are retrieving spoons quickly. Your line will get all twisted up and won’t cast right. OR even worse it will get twisted and cause a bird nest on your reel. This can be a nightmare situation if you are using braided line. MAKE SURE TO USE BARREL SWIVELS.
PRO TIP: When you are fishing over a shallow reef use a weed less spoon. You will lose a lot less of them and they still catch tons of mackerel.
2) FEATHER/ BUCK TAIL JIGS- Spanish mackerel will readily hit a fast moving jig of some sort. The more elongated ones work better but you can use the normal ones too. The key to catching them with jigs is a fast retrieve with a lot of up and and rod tip motion. The more erratic the retrieve the better your results will be.
Mackerel are very fast moving fish so don’t think that you can reel faster than they can swim. You are wrong to think that so real as fast as you want to and you will catch them when they are in the feeding frenzy mode. I like to use something light in the clear water and something darker for the dirtier water.
3) GOTCHA LURES- Gotcha lures are an odd looking lure that were specifically designed to catch mackerel. This lure looks like a shiny cigarette with a couple of hooks on it. It has a sloped head so the action is very similar to a lipped plug. The design allows you to use a very fast retrieve and the sideways movement puts out a lot of those low frequency vibrations that drive predatory fish like Spanish mackerel crazy.
4) PADDLE TAIL SHAD- I catch a lot of Spanish mackerel with a 3 inch paddle tail shad coupled with a 1/4 ounce or a 1/2 ounce jig head. This is a great set up to catch Spanish mackerel off of the beach when they are close to shore. When the anchovies and minnows are in the surf, you can bet that the Spanish mackerel are in the surf too. At the higher parts of the tide they might be 5 feet from shore so you don’t need your big surf rod to get at them.
I like to use a white paddle tail if the water is clear and a dark paddle tail if the water is murky. Try both to see what they prefer but you can usually get away with just having a light one and a dark one when you are surf fishing for mackerel.
I catch a lot of Spanish mackerel on very light tackle when they are in the surf. I usually fish for them around high tide. That is my favorite way to catch them. You can use a 2500 series reel coupled with a medium action 7 foot rod and have a ton of fun catching mackerel surf fishing. I use the same set up for Spanish mackerel that I use for catching speckled trout on the grass flats. The 3 inch soft plastic paddle tail shad with a 1/2 ounce red or pink jig head is my go to set up. The destroy the lure almost every time but they are cheap so it is well worth the cost.
Watch the video below to learn more about catching Spanish mackerel.
Surf fishing for Spanish mackerel is a blast. They are pretty easy to catch most of the time and they are a decent tasting fish for the dinner plate. They get into feeding frenzies that look like something that you might see on the nature channel that is a sight to behold. They will be skying out of the water 3 or 4 feet in the air as they smash into the bait schools from underneath. It is really an amazing thing to see.
Just remember when you are fishing for them that there is no such thing as too fast for a mackerel. You can reel as fast as you possibly can and your lure will not outrun a mackerel. They are speedy and voracious feeders which is probably why so many people love to fish for them.
If you haven’t specifically targeted this species before, then you are missing out on lots of fish catching fun. They are in the surf; they are in the inlets; they are in the grass flats; they are in the channels and cuts inshore; they are just about anywhere that there is something for them to eat. Have fun with your next mack attack.
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