Know the ins, outs behind saltwater fishing

Our Nova Scotia coast has been supplying lots of angling enjoyment with many species available to catch. The next two articles will zero in on two species that migrate to Nova Scotia each year and can be caught fishing from shore.

The first fish that I would like to tell you about is the mackerel. When fishing for mackerel, you do not need a licence. They are also a great fish to catch for young anglers just starting out. These fish can be found along the South Shore in every bay, river, estuary and off of most wharves. Mackerel come in and go out with the tides and many people tell me the best time to fish for them is the two hours before high tide and the two hours after high tide. As you know, there are two high tides a day so there is ample time to get your bucket full of mackerel.

Mackerel travel in schools, and you will find when fishing for them that one moment there are none, and the next moment, they are all around you. I have seen several people fishing on a wharf and no one is catching anything; a school of mackerel come along and everyone is hooked up with a fish all at once.

Where do you fish for mackerel? The best way for me to tell you this is by telling you what mackerel do. As I said before, they travel in schools along the shoreline looking for food. Their primary food are little fish which are found close to shore around wharves and structures. So ask around and people will be happy to tell you where to go mackerel fishing. I have caught mackerel in East River, Chester Harbour, Mahone Bay, Indian Point, Lunenburg Harbour, Riverport, LaHave, Western Shore, Liverpool, Oakland and the LaHave Islands.

Mackerel travel the shore most of the summer and into the fall. They are not that fussy and are usually easy to catch and fight very hard. The gear you will need is a basic spinning rod and reel and some baits that look like fish. Most people use a heavy spoon but there are specific mackerel jigs that work very well also; all tackle stores carry mackerel jigs.

I have found that if you have something in the water when the mackerel swim by you, you will usually hook up. Remember that mackerel are looking for minnows who are trying to get away from them, so throw out your bait and reel it back in very quickly. Jerking your bait rapidly while retrieving it works extremely well also.

Here are some helpful hints for when you go mackerel fishing:

First off, there is a size limit which is 26.3 millimetres or 10.5 inches. Any mackerel under that size must be put back.

Take a bucket with a handle with you and tie a rope to the handle so that you can get some water in the bucket.

Bring a few rags with you because mackerel have millions of tiny scales and you will want to continually wash your hands and gear. When mackerel scales get dried on your gear, they are extremely difficult to get off. (Although my wife likes the sparkle effect that the scales give off.)

Finally, when you get home, make sure that you rinse your equipment thoroughly to get the salt water out of your reel and off your line and rod.

Next week, I will be talking about striped bass. Have a great week fishing the rivers, lakes and oceans of our beautiful counties.

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