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Neptune73

Let's Talk Mackerel...

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Hi everyone,

 

I live way up the Penobscot river and I fish top water exclusively up here catching mostly schoolies with the very occasional cow. Believe it or not, I saw a 40" fish caught ABOVE Bangor last year.  Pretty rare up this far.

 

Anyway... I invested in a brand new boat last year (16 ft. Lund with 60hp 4stroke, since you asked  :) ) and I'm looking to expand my horizons this year... I've been doing my homework and plan on hitting the Saco area a little bit and would like to check out Bucksport as well since it's closer (and I can get there by boat!) and maybe the Kennebec.

 

To the point... I am interested in putting my live well to use and fishing with mackerel.  What is the best way to catch them? Someone told me an umbrella rig... Is that a good idea?  And then once you catch them, how do you fish with them?  Hook them through the lips I think, right?  And when you guys talk about chunk bait, you're cutting these guys up and casting (in the surf, the best I can tell)?

 

Any help is greatly appreciated.  Looking mostly for techniques, but if you want to message me some specific spots I can share some good intel if you're ever up this way looking to hook into some.

 

Thanks!

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Sabiki Rig, NOT an umbrella rig for mackerel!!  On the bottom of the rig you can use a mackerel jig, but I like to use a lure like a Krocodile or Hopkins which catch more fish.  Sabiki will also catch alewives & herring, BTW.  You troll umbrella rigs for stripers & blues...

 

I'm not a fan of through the lips of the mackerel when using the required circle hooks.  I find that I get 2X hookups when I hook the mackerel through the back just ahead of the dorsal fin.

Edited by Roccus7

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Sabiki rig is the way to go. I take the hook off the bottom wieght because of the amount of traps and debris in the area I fish. Never had to chum but it doesnt hurt your chances. I used to hook through the lips but have had more hookups by hooking like Roccus7 or crossways through the nose.

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Good info, thanks!

 

I saw a fishing show that was filmed in Casco Bay where they just loosened the drag and rigged up a balloon and let'em go (if I remember correctly).  Is that the typical way to fish with them?

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You can use a float or a balloon, if you wish. You can even let the Mac loose, no float,  near some structure, and let it swim freely, just give it enough line to get out there a ways, then use the rod to control it, like walking a dog, if you will.

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I like to hook macks at the back of the head and bunker through the mouth. Try a Eagle Claw L2004ELF  non-offset circle hook on a 36" leader with a swivel at the other end. Use an egg sinker above the swivel large enough to keep the mack close to the bottom. Drift over structure and ledges keeping the mack close to the bottom.

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Also, while you can loosen the drag while live lining mackerel, a reel with the two drag feature is really worth the investment.  A new Shimano Baitrunner can be found for under $100.

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Neptune-  I live in Winterport and fished the Penobby from Veazie to North Haven for several years with very limited success. ( to the point that I sold my boat).  You will need to get down into the Bay ( below Verona) to find macs.  There is a good ramp in Stockton Springs and another in Searsport.   I would be very careful around Bucksport/Verona, particularly on the west side of Verona- upstream wind in the afternoon combined with an out going tide builds up huge in there ( I had an 18' center console and it was rugged)  Likewise, be very careful if you decide to run down from Winterport or Hampden as the waves on an outgoing and upstream wind in Winterport will be 3 feet plus.  Nice to hear there are a few fish back in the river- I had all but given up.

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titleguy - I'm very familiar with the river from Hampden on up, but haven't done much of anything below there...  Thanks for the information, I will be taking some trips down for sure this year and I do realize how fast that current can get ripping, so it'll be interesting.  

 

As for the fish being back, well it wasn't great last year (like it was 7-8 years ago or so) but it was definitely the best it's been in a while.  I want to say around the second week in June until the first week in July I was pretty much catching them daily... Nothing huge,  20-30 inch mostly... and the one 40 inch fish my buddy caught kept our hopes up for a while.  Died down pretty quick once that heat set in though.  Which is why I want to head to the coast or down south a bit more.  I need more...  Going into it blind, so I'm going to have to scout around and talk to people and figure this out.

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Neptune- That's great- topwater too!  I will have to get back after them this summer.  My first year in Winterport ('06), I did pretty well upstream, but always seemed to head to towards the bay- We did really well on macs last fall around Stockton- good fun. 

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Hook the mackerel through the snout, 2 holes just above the mouth. The mac stays alive longer if need be and when a striper takes it,it is usually by the head.

(where the hook is)

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Hook the mackerel through the snout, 2 holes just above the mouth. The mac stays alive longer if need be and when a striper takes it,it is usually by the head.

(where the hook is)

This is how I hook them also. It has always worked great for me. To fish chunks, cut 1 to 1 1/2 inch chunks, don't use tail as it makes bait spin. Fish them on bottom unweighted unless there is strong current. Be sure that the hook is exposed enough that it will not bury in the bait when it is being set. I use 8/0 to be sure there is a sufficient gap that the in-line circle will set. Live lining or using a balloon or float if you need to control depth over structure both work well.

 

If you want to catch them in a hurry, use a Sabiki rig, punch holes in a can of cheap tuna cat food and hang it over the side, you will have a school under your boat in no time. Or mix a chum of rolled oats, tuna cat food and Wesson oil hung over the side in a small mesh bag.  This has always kept my grandchildren occupied and filled the live well before we left the mooring. Also, mackerel can be hard to keep alive, so don't over fill your tank.

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I agree with LynnG on the chum as well.  It can make all of the difference in the world.  When a school of them find it, they will stay right next to the boat while you bring in full Sabiki after full Sabiki.

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