Atlantic mackerel were once one of the most popular Mid Atlantic saltwater fish. Mackerel were caught by the thousands in early spring, usually by anglers fishing on head boats. Depending on water temperatures, mackerel fishing usually peaked in the Mid Atlantic from late March to mid April.
The big seas of late winter and early spring often makes anglers sea sick. In spite of all the flying food, the fishing can be exciting! Anglers fish with traditional mackerel tube rigs, or create their own rigs from very small tubes, shad darts, or small hooks with tinsel or bucktail tied on. To catch Atlantic mackerel, anglers fish with multiple hooks and sinkers from 5 to 8 oz.
Mackerel rigs made with smaller jigs seem to work best on herring and small mackerel. If the boat hits a good bite on large mackerel, larger tube rigs may be more productive.
A good spot on the boat is achieved by arriving early and planting your rod in your chosen area. When mackerel fishing, it is a good idea to work hard for the captain during the first hours of fishing. An angler that consistently catches fish and is courteous will be well attended by the mates. This is because the lead anglers will serve as motivators to the less experienced and seasick among the passengers.
On a good day, the fishing enthusiasm will spread thru the boat and everyone will have an enjoyable day and a cooler laden with fish. Regardless of how many fish are caught, mates should be tipped properly for their hard work. Mackerel trips were a great beginning to the fishing season for thousands of Mid Atlantic anglers throughout the years.