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Mackerel Jigging

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KILSONG Club Member

Jigging and Popping

Joined: 08/22/2001
Posts: 11378
 posted 12/31/2006 08:11 PM  

Local mackerel fishing is getting worse and worse every year.
Mackerel came into our areas late this year due to warmer water temperature and they catch pretty good now. Mackerel jigging is pretty easy and all family can enjoy it.
There is no secret mackerel jigging technique. Smile But the key for successful mackerel fishing is to know the right depth and stay on the depth.

Joined: 11/24/2006
Posts: 25
 posted 01/01/2007 11:34 PM  

I think our mackeral in Hawaii are smaller than the ones you are talking about. We have the mackeral scad (akule) and a more torpedo shaped one called opelu.

When I moved back to Hilo about 15 years ago, there were perhaps a dozen full and part-time akule fishermen. I could go out on a nice, warm, dark evening and fill a 40 quart cooler in a few hours using handlines.

Now there are perhaps 2-3 part-time akule fishermen in Hilo. I haven't gone in years because it's been so slow although I hear that a few folks are catching larger akule at the outer edge of Hilo bay near the end of the breakwall with bait rather than flies. It's really hard to imagine that handline fisheries have caused this decimation in stocks.

The fishery and conditions have surely changed over time.

It's the same with skipjack tuna. Ten to 12 years ago in the summer, we could go out to the 50 fathom dropoff and there would be birds for a mile or more over the aku schools. Now, no more fish or very scarce at best.
KILSONG Club Member

Jigging and Popping

Joined: 08/22/2001
Posts: 11378
 posted 01/02/2007 12:23 AM  

What happened in Big Island ? excessive commercial fishing or environmental changes ?
It is a sad story to hear that thousands of ulua were decimated by commercial netters in Kauai 5-6 years ago and ulua fishing is not as it used to be since then.
I love marinated saba (mackerel ) sashimi and katsuo(skip jack tuna) tataki. Smile Many fishermen on the East Coast catch mackerel for baits, especially for shark, but many Orientals living here catch them to eat.

-saba sashimi
-katsuo tataki


Joined: 11/27/2006
Posts: 17
 posted 01/02/2007 03:27 PM  

DAT LOOKS LIKE IT WOULD TASTE GOOOOOOD!!!! lol getting hungry now

Joined: 08/17/2001
Posts: 1144
Location: jackson heights
 posted 01/02/2007 04:50 PM  

Mackeral sashimi is fantastic to eat.

Joined: 11/24/2006
Posts: 25
 posted 01/02/2007 05:30 PM  


Great pictures!

As a former Oceanographer, I have to believe that environmental changes are the reason. All of the akule on the Hilo side of the island were fished for by handlines although some commercial fisheries in Maui and Oahu did use huge surround nets (and sometimes airplanes for spotting schools). Hawaiians (pre-contact) also used large nets and canoes with a system of semaphore-like flag wavers on cliffs overlooking the fishing areas to tell canoes where to position themselves.

On the Kona side, nets were used for opelu but these were generally smaller than the akule nets, I believe. There are still today certain areas called ko'a where different species of fish remain over time. Opelu schools tend to be around the 20-50 fathom drop-offs ~ every 3-5 miles along the coast and of courses ono (wahoo) are often found near these ko'a as well. Old-time Hawaiian fishermen in Miloli'i and other places would use mashed-up cooked squash and pumpkin as bait for opelu with the net some distance below the school. As the fish gathered to eat the mashed vegetables the net would slowly be raised and a portion of the school taken. Some schools were known to be the kuliana or property of certain chiefs, then families and were taken care of and harvested over many generations. Today, this type of fishing is rare. For many decades in the last century, there were many handline fishermen in Kona fishing for opelu - but it is a difficult life and most of these hardy fishermen types have also disappeared.

Raw akule (aji in Japanese) and opelu are delicious raw. The opelu anatomy is such that it's possible to clean it and prepare it for eating using only your fingers and thumbnails - a little salt and the blood from the gills was the main relish my Hawaiian mother-in-law used when she prepared it before.

We like to cook akule shioyaki style. Sprinkle coarse salt in a cast-iron pan, lightly coat the cleaned akule with oil and fry it until the skin on both sides is crispy and the insides next to the backbone just a little pink. Of course, akule or opelu split down the backbone, lightly salted, half-dried in the sun and grilled makes for wonderful picnic lunches by the beach as well.

Joined: 04/29/2005
Posts: 974
 posted 01/02/2007 07:26 PM  

Kil said:

But the key for successful mackerel fishing is to know the right depth and stay on the depth

As usual, he is absolutely right. My friends and I have a winter mackerel fishing tradition and are gearing up for our trip right now. There are a few important things to remember when mackerel fishing.

1.) Captains of PBs will ALWAYS tell you what depth they are marking the mackerel at, and you should listen! I do not use heavy diamond jigs on the bottom of my mackerel rigs because I personally think it is dangerous to have that big hook swinging around when you have a full stringer of mackerel that you're trying to unhook. Typically, an 8 ounce sinker will suffice, but you may have to adjust to stronger or lighter currents.

2.) Let your rig down at a medium speed and pay attention! If the capt. says the macks are 60 ft. down, don't just guess at what 60' is and then jig at that depth. More often then not, if the macks are thick, you will feel taps on the way down. The second you feel a tap, put your reel in gear, give you rig two or three nice swings, and bring up a full stringer of macks.

3.) Winter mackerel like christmas colors! Ok, this is not necessarily true, but I make my own mackerel tubes out of stripped wires. Green, Red, and White make for a festive mackerel rig that will put smiles on the PB patrons when you bring up a full stringer of mackerel and hoot and holler about christmas mackerel liking christmas colors.

4.) Finally, once you've had your fill of mackerel, don't hesitate to liveline one if the boat isn't too crowded. The striper season is open in NJ oceanic waters all year long and my friends and I have caught stripers the last two years in January on live mackerel and herring.

Also, unless you need serious amounts of mackerel for bait the rest of the year, only keep what you're gonna use. A lot of PBs in NJ count on winter and spring mackerel runs to stock up their own bait freezers for bluefish chum and bait. Most capts. will happily give you a tote to fill for them once you've caught enough for yourself and will be very grateful. Its definitely a good way to show your appreciation for what PB capts. do for us and is a good way to form good customer relationships with some of your favorite PBs.
KILSONG Club Member

Jigging and Popping

Joined: 08/22/2001
Posts: 11378
 posted 01/04/2007 03:32 PM  

You gave very good information. Anyone who fishes mackerel for the first time should read his post.

The Brooklyn IV and The Dorothy out of Sheephead Bay sailed for mackerel today. Mackerel fishing has been pretty slow since Sunday, but they found school of mackerel southeast of SH and good fishermen could fill 90 qt cooler. They say most mackerel stay deep near the bottom. As Spudders suggested, it is better to use 8 oz sinker instead of diamond jigs to get down to bottom fast and avoid tangles with other fishermen.
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