Thursday, July 10, 2014

Speaking Saltwater Spanish in July

Summer Sun and Spanish Mackerel on DOA baitbuster

Spanish Mackerel is a species that seems to be surging in both numbers and size during July. Locating Spanish mackerel, which almost always show up in schools, is the first part of the challenge. Whether fishing the surf along Edisto beach, or when using a boat, scouting and recent history will help to reveal their favorite haunts.

Spanish Mackerel can be easy to spot sometimes as they have a tendency to jump completely out of the water. They jump in a high arcing display that just screams for the angler to accept their challenge and try to catch one. Of course, in fishing you can go from seeing Spanish jump at a frantic pace to staring at calm waters in the blink of an eye.
The challenge of reeling in one of these fish cannot be accepted unless you figure out what they are biting. Spanish are notorious for being finicky and will not stray too far from the natural bait they are currently feasting on. These natural baits range from glass minnows, to finger mullet and menhaden. Try offering a bit of menhaden to a school of Spanish that have herded a thousand glass minnows into a ball, and you will learn the meaning of frustration.

The daily limit for Spanish mackerel in South Carolina is 15 fish per day and there is a 12-inch minimum length. These somewhat oily fish are thin-framed, very easy to clean and can be cooked on the grill. I have spent many July afternoons after chasing forked tails, coming to grips with fresh sun-kissed redness, while grilling a few Spanish with some fishing friends.

Spanish have shredded more than a few landing nets while being scooped out of the ocean so take care. A pair of fishing pliers is always a good idea when de-hooking these fish, and a rag proves useful as well since these fish can bleed quite a bit while removing the hook. Their hearty demeanor usually ensures that they are a good candidate for catch and release fishing.             

Don’t forget that you can increase the challenge of angling for Spanish mackerel by putting up the spinning tackle and pulling out the fly rod. Remember, Spanish mackerel don’t simply break the surface, they jump out of the water with grace. They almost always show up in their usual haunts by July 4 and spend the entire month chasing bait, which makes for loads of light-tackle fishing fun!

To view this feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view the latest Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report click here.

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