The humble Mackeral which was once such a common fish has come under serious strain in recent years. However it is still one of the few fish that can still be found in abundance in certain areas from June through to September and even the very start of October in warmer years. This is by far one of the top angling baits and definitely the best all rounder for most species when boat angling. there are few fish out there that will turn their nose up at mackeral flesh.

Collecting Mackeral
You basicly have three choices. you can buy Mackeral from your tackle shop which is often the most convenient and also the most expensive, you can buy it from a fish monger who normally sell it very cheap (but do make sure you get the whole fish and not just the fillets), or you can collect it yourself.  If you choose to buy your mackeral at a fish mongers you should make sure it is fresh and if you are not going to use it imediately you should freeze it. Mackeral bought in tackle shops is always frozen and comes usualy in packets of two or three.  Joey Mackeral (small Mackeral) usually come in bags of four. If you choose to obtain your own Mackeral you can catch these using coloured feathers. this can be done from the shore by spinning or from the boat by jigging. try different depths. But Mackeral are generally a pelagic species so a few winds up from the bottom is usually best. The fish tend to stick to the bottom in choppy seas and rise higher in the water as the seas calm down. as dusk approaches they cease to feed and will be on the bottom.  Seek out areas with a strong tide run like head lands and around cliffs. these are the types of places Mackeral like and usually the best spots to find them at. Remember just because you hit a shoal and there a lots of fish that does not mean you should go nuts! Mackeral rigs usually have six hooks and you can often have six fish on at once. Take only what you need and let the rest go. Mackeral are under serious pressure comercially and recreationally and it is important to sustain their numbers for coming years.

Using Mackeral as a boat fishing bait.
There are a number of ways to present mackeral as bait. it can be used on its own or as a cocktail with Squid to great effect.

For smaller species such as Gurnards and whiting and Dogfish Mackeral can be cut into chunks by sliceing vertically down the side of the fish in line with the head. Both sides of the fish should provide you with 8-10 small baits. these should be secured to the hook with bait elastic.

Mackeral Flapper
this  is a Joey Mackeral with the tail and spine removed and cut down the centre. this enables the fish to flutter enticeingly in a strong tide and leave a strong scent trail. this type of bait can be very succesful for wreck Ling but will also take Tope, Cod, Big Bass, Spurdog, Ray and Conger.
A Mackeral Flapper
Head and Guts
The head and guts of the mackeral can be used to make rubby dubby. Some anglers save these bit and bring them home in a tub to be added to their mix. they can also be used to great effect for catching Dogfish, Bullhuss, and Conger.

Live Bait
Live baiting Joey Mackeral over a wreck can prove deadly over wrecks and reefs. They are also reputedly good for big Bass.  The hook is passed down through the mouth and out the gill. the hook is then nipped through the belly skin as not to kill the fish. this can be tried with or without the use of a weight.
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