Mackerel fishing on Anglesey can be amazing in summer months, and can provide good sustainable fishing all summer long if you know where to head. Boat fishing for Mackerel is a breeze, but the shore can be a bit more tricky. When the fish return to these waters from their migratory circuit, they are ready to feed en masse and fishing sessions can produce large numbers of catch. Get out this summer and catch your own dinner with some of our helpful tips below.
Mackerel, the smaller relative of the tuna family are no pushover as a fish, they exert one of the best and hardest fights per pound of weight, than any fish I know of, when caught on light tackle. They are a summer fish in the UK and provide a great resource for food and for bait for the angler for the entire summer season.
They make an amazing feast over the BBQ and as far as fresh fish cooked over a camp fire goes, its a close to perfection as you can get. Over the past few summers we have feasted on fresh fish all summer long, making pate, smoked fillets and various other dishes.
Start them young
Mackerel fishing is a wonderful sport that anyone, of any age can take part in. Catching your first Mackerel is a really exciting experience, and it can lead to many more incredible fishing experiences further down the line.
I can remember my first fishing sessions with my mum’s brother Howard, back at the age of six. I was given a tackle box, rod and reel and a set of white feathers. We would go fishing around porth daffacrch for afternoons together. Catching all sorts fish such as Mackerel, plaice and gurnards.
This in turn, was one of the main things that inspired me to start fishing properly as very young teenager. Those early fishing sessions at the age of six and seven where the catalyst to me be becoming a life long angler and a lover of the sport.
My mum’s two brothers David and Howard, who were excellent fishermen on the island, and boat builders alike, and that gave me the real interest and curiosity to begin looking at fishing and the ocean as whole. It didn’t just turn into a beautiful sport, it turned into a lifelong obsession with the ocean, and the sea and islands life. It consequently led me to my current profession, which is a marine geophysicist, working as a consultant for various companies across Europe.
A life long obsession
This early acquaintance with the ocean and Mackerel fishing also inspired me to study at Marine Geology and ocean Science at Bangor University and learn some of the most beautiful and amazing earth sciences. We covered oceanography, marine biology, physics, geology and all of the natural sciences which still to this day, are some of the most fascinating topics for me to learn. You’re able to observe all the physical attributes of the sciences in play right in front of your eyes in your daily escapades.
Mackerel fishing was probably one of the first styles of fishing, that I learned to do as a young child, and it really is still as one of the most enjoyable fishing styles that I do today.
Movement of mackerel on Anglesey
I often start fishing for mackerel in early months in April, and I fish all the way through till September and October for them, when the fish then move off into the deeper Atlantic waters on their return legs of their migration.
Often fish can be caught in Holyhead harbour even in early April and May, especially the past few years there’s been a change in the cyclic pattern of their movements.
It’s the month of June, as I write this now, and the Mackerel are still coming in quite patchy, although I’ve heard reports this morning that a few anglers are catching large hauls of fish, Just two days ago at a local spot on the island. Landing large hauls has its down sides to stocks and in essence shows greed, much wiser to take just enough for you and your family and maybe a few for the neighbours, enough said.
The mackerel move along the coast of Anglesey and don’t stay in the same spot. If your searching for the places to find them, look for strong tidal currents on the edges of large bays where you get back eddies. They seem to follow the large tidal currents that circulate around the bays.
Deep water location are one of my favourites to go for mackerel, areas such as Porth Daffarch that have both fast flowing water and deep water at close reach will produce good catches for you.
Top shore locations on Anglesey for mackerel fishing
Re read the points above and see that each one of the places below has both deep water from a rock platform and a strong tidal stream.
Benllech – Fish off the rocks not the beaches !
Porth Daffach – Go explore the rock destinations , most platforms produce good catch in the summer.
Penmon – The point works well
Cable bay area – Explore the the outer rocks around the bay
Rhoscolyn – look for the strong tides and fish into it
Moyelfre – Fish the rock platforms there
Rocky coast – Can be a tricky one, but some late season produce off the rocks too
Bag sizes and sustainability
The it comes to fish resources, they are not finite and its very import to take only what you can eat and maybe a few for bait if your a bait angler. Too many times I’ve seen people abusing the system and whats going to happen is the governments will bring in by laws and legislation to prevent it, the we won’t be able to land and keep fish at all.
This is nothing personal , it’s just something I’ve spotted and observed over the past decade of fishing the island, many times I’ve had to have a word with certain anglers for keeping undersized bass on various locations. So In the past we’ve had to have words them, for keeping five inch bass which was utterly unacceptable in my eyes.
It’s important that we look after fish stocks and observe size limits for the next five generations of anglers on the island.
Mackerel fishing reports 2020
2020 has been a bit of a patchy start to the Mackerel fishing year. The start of the season began in earnest, from what I hear in Holyhead breakwater where there were large mackerel being caught there.
Now this is interesting because you don’t normally catch Mackerel at Holyhead breakwater until August, but I think it may have been the consequences of many people being off work, and that more angles were out fishing, to notice that the Mackerel were in spawning inside their original spawning grounds in some parts of the Holyhead harbour.
Now it’s important that when certain fishes spawning we don’t take too many of them because this is the next cycle of the fishing so that we have the next generation of Mackerel for the next year and years to come.
I’ve tried this season fishing for Mackerel between May and June and the results have been fairly patchy, fishing a few spots on Anglesey and a few spots on Holy Island coming back with quite mediocre catches in all honesty. My top spots have not been producing good catches as of yet.
However I’m beginning to hear now that they are now emerging in full swing. The month of June is kind of feels about right to be honest. I remember from historical evidence from my fishing diaries that mid May was often the time of year that we would start catching them in earnest around holy Island and Anglesey. The bays around Trearrdur where the hotspots back then, but they have changed somewhat now.
This mornings Mackerel fishing session
The catch reports from the local fishermen are seeming to echo the same results right now. This morning’s fishing session was a bit off the cuff to be honest, with little or no planning involved, I just went impromptu.
I woke up early and decided to head down to my local spot on Holy island to try my luck because the water was glass calm. The wind was down at three miles an hour, it was a very warm breeze and high water this morning was at 6am, local time Holyhead harbour.
I arrived on site at 7:30am. HW was at 6:00 am, so I was an hour and a half after HW. We were on medium sized tides (28ft) and there was a half moon, already high in the sky. I assumed that the tidal stream would be sufficiently low enough to be able to fish this specific spot that I go to. Unfortunately I think I timed it wrong, and from fellow anglers. Low water was when they where catching at this mark. It can vary greatly. But you have to go a few sessions to dial it in, especially from the shore. On the boat you can move from spot to spot in seconds and move with the fish.
I’m hearing that the best, best catches at the minute will come in low water as opposed to high water. I caught a few Mackerel nonetheless and it was good to see and touch base with the local wildlife life, flora and fauna to see how things are developing on this spot on the island.
The importance of bait fish
June is a fantastic month of fishing on the island, all the bait fish have now grown to a certain size and they are becoming quite obvious prey for larger fish. The cycles now are kicking in here, the plankton is returning into the water and there’s a lot of large jellyfish around too. The bass have been showing up too along with the pollock, feeding strong at the minute all on small baitfish.
We’ve already had the run of White bait, Herring and Mackerel already spawning in various places, as well as the sandeel, which were certainly moving around in large shoals numbers around the rocks this morning.
It was sandeels I was observing this morning in the shallows, in the clear water right next to the rocks, which is a very good sign really because I know for two or three seasons the baitfish had been absent at these locations due to over fishing, what happens is that the Mackerel cycle seems to shut down on the back of this because the Mackerel are feeding on the same bait fish that people are moving out of the food chain.
Anyhow good to see the sandeel returning in strong numbers again..
Tides and timing for mackerel fishing
Tides and timing are kind of important in Mackerel fishing, if your fishing from the shore. Mackerel move predominantly with the flow of the tides. There is a definite correlation from my previous experience, that Mackerel seemed to like fast moving moving water.
However, I always seem to get my best catches between low water and two hours up from low water. I never normally catch on a slack tide for Mackerel from the shore. I always catch when there’s a run of tide and this morning was no exception. The minute the tide dropped off to slack water, the fish dropped off . The minute I began to observe eddie’s and currents start to show on the surface of the water, the Mackerel returned ! This is signalling that they are moving in and out of the bays with the tides.
A couple of tips for mackerel fishing
Fishing for Mackerel is not difficult, but there are a few things that you can do in terms of your systems to increase your chances. One of them is to use very very light equipment I often see anglers still using incredibly heavy glass 14 foot fishing rods that we use for catching Bull hus or Conger eel!- whats the point?
It’s much, much smarter to use a light bass fishing outfit, such as a carp rod or bass fishing outfit. That way you don’t get tired and you wont get a bad back from using heavy equipment!
The style of tackle I use is pretty basic these days. I remember being a seven year old and using white feathers which was the standard protocol in the 80s.
Back in 1987 we used to catch dozens of Mackerel on white plastic tubing that we used to cut from electrical wire. Things haven’t changed, Mackerel are a sight biased predator and should something flashed in front of their eyes they will attack it, juts like a salmon so the style of feathers / trace you use isn’t really of much consequence.
Be an early bird
I think with certain types of fishing, it’s important to be an early bird. I normally wouldn’t say this in my blog, but I think it’s of importance to most anglers who, who turn up late on the rock and can’t find a position for fishing.
“If you do what everyone else does, the chances are you’ll get whatever else gets”. And by that I mean, be “the odd one out “. 95% of people follow the same patterns and don’t get out of bed early, so take advantage of their patterns to catch more fish. I often get up at five in the morning,
This will not only help you in your Mackerel fishing habits, but in all of your fishing habits. I promise you will pay dividends, in many ways, because the locations that you go are not going to be packed with people, tackle and and commotion.
It’ll be less noisy, and you get to choose where you fish, you get to fish in a quiet location with beautiful sounding nature around you, and ultimately you fish the best part of the day, which is the dawn or dusk.
The my kit for Mackerel fishing is very simple. I use a Savage Bushwacker bass fishing rod with an Abu Soron 40 fishing reel loaded with 15 pounds braid line.
A one ounce weight and a set of Sabiki Mackerel fishing feathers very very simple setup. I carry a handful of one ounce leads usually, along with a small packet of macro fishing feathers in case I lose some. I’ll also take a plastic bag to pick up everyone else is rubbish. And I will take a priest for dispatching the Mackerel. Should I catch any.
Keep your Mackerel fresh
Another little tip in if you’re fishing when the sun is very bright, ( I made this mistake today) First of all kill them humanely and then leave them in a pool of water. This allows their skin to stay very moist and fresh. Today I didn’t really think about what I was doing and I left my Mackerel (in what I thought) was the shade, the sun moved, and then within an hour, the Mackerel had turned to leather. Not ideal.
A humane approach
More over I’d like to mention something on the side of killing your fish, it’s important that I mentioned this in my blog so the readers can can take note of my ethical approach to dispatching fish. The more I see anglers and the they treat fish, the more it appals me in so many ways. So it’s up to me really to raise my voice with this issue that if you catch a fish and you want to keep it that you kill it immediately and give it some dignity that it deserves. Don’t let it flat around on the rocks and dry drown its a bad habit and sign of a terrible angler in my opinion.
Vary your style to catch
I’ve learned much from anglers much older and more experienced than myself through my bass fishing fishing exploits over the past six seven years.
One choice habit I’ve adopted from their wisdom, is when I’m spinning for different fish, if I if I’m not hitting the shoals, I will alternate my castling range and angle and cover different points the rock.
I will cast in different directions, I will cast at various different distances, I will try and use different heights within the water column, if I don’t think I’m reaching the fish. I will also try casting further out and further in. I will count down (in seconds the depth of the water) after the cast, and then I’ll remember the depth of the water that I caught the fish at in the water coulomb.
Time after time to try and find out where the fish are showing up today the fish were shoaling at 30 yards out from the rocks at half the depth of the water (15m). So it was five seconds down and probably 30 to40 yards out.
You will have to experiment to find out where the fish are, they’re not always going to be right in front of you.
Braid line a wonder material for mackerel fishing
Another little tip is to use braid, I really enjoy fishing with braid on all my fishing exploits for bass or with Pollack fishing. It gives me the utmost sensitivity I can feel when a fish is on the line.
I can tell the second when a Mackerel hits the hook. I attribute a lot of my success to having braid on my fishing line because ultimately I can see when I hook into a fish, and I can feel when I hook into a fish very quickly, which means I don’t lose very many fish.
The instant feedback and transmission of the vibrations through the line of the braid to my fingers, allow me to raise a rod quick enough and to reel in slack so that I don’t lose fish in the future. I would suggest you adopt it within your tactics too.
Short hits time wise
One of my favourite approaches keeps me really sharp and motivated, even efficient isn’t doing as well as I want. I only do two hour fishing hits as a rule, . I still hold to my two hour slots. If it isn’t working for me on that two hour slot, I will leave and head home.
The reason is it keeps me motivated, is because after doing a three or four hour session and coming home with no fish sometimes, it can often affect your morale in fishing and too many times have allowed this to get the better of me. Instead now I will try and pinpoint (as I’ve pointed out in many of my bass fishing blogs), the very specific times that the mackerel are in, and I will orientate my fishing sessions around a two hour “optimum window” to catch the most fish.
Litter- lets put an end to it
A closing word on the litter. I spent the best part of 35 minutes today pulling discarded tackle, gloves, plastic wrapping from mackerel traces, plastic bags and lead weights strewn all upon all over the rock.
So many times this, I see this in so many times. It reminds me of the appalling state that the angling community is in. I don’t know what to say about this other than I’m not sure how they have the conscience to treat these beautiful locations, with such disdain, it’s a wonder to me why they are partaking in a sport where they are close to nature?
If you’re fishing, take an extra bag with you pick up all the litter off the rocks and if you see anyone throwing it on the ground, call them out. Tell them to put it up, pick it up, put it in the bag and take it home with you embarrass them if needs be in front of all the other anglers. Don’t be afraid of doing this because it is up to us to stand up in the face of litterbugs and disgusting anglers who leave a stain on the face of the angling community and also who disrespect nature on this beautiful island somewhat.
Fishing books i’ve been looking at ..
Here is a list of some fishing books to look at too, i’ve been searching the past days to get me in the Sumer fishing mood.
Tackle shops – Beaumaris, ABC
Tackle shops –Holyhead – Winnies worms
Tackle shops – Amlwch, Telboys Tackle
Tackle shops – Menai Bridge The tackle warehouse – google – no link!
Tackle shops – Menai kayak angling
My other blogs on Mackerel Fishing on Anglesey
My other blogs Pollack Fishing
My other blogs on Bass Fishing
My other blogs on Float Fishing
My other blogs on Bass fishing on Anglesey
My other blogs on Top Tips for Bass fishing
Also, if your wanting to sharpen you skills in the sport, I do run one on one bass fishing lessons. If you feel you would benefit from some tuition and coaching, click here or click the image and drop me a line.
Tan Y Tro Nesaf / Until the next time,
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