Spanish Mackerel are on the Alabama Gulf Coast for Annual Visit

Part of the What's Biting Series

family fishing on a charter boat Orange Beach Al

What if I proposed this travel itinerary to you?

Leave the Florida Keys in late winter, make your way up the coast, and arrive in our area around the end of March or maybe early April. Spend all spring and summer along the Gulf Coast and then reverse

the trip sometime around October.

I'd feel pretty fortunate experiencing that trip one time, but what about doing it every year? Who could be so lucky to pull that off? It's not a group of fishing buddies, but rather one of our most popular migrating fish, the Spanish mackerel, and right now their annual journey has them here with us until the water cools in the fall.

"Just recently we have started to consistently catch them on our four-hour charters," said Captain Don McPherson of Getaway Charters in Orange Beach. "Like everything else, they were just running a little behind because of the cold spring.

" Captain Hollywood Shaver of Captain Bligh Charters agrees, "They just showed up at the pass, along the jetties, at the pier – they are finally here."

Spanish mackerel offer so much to our fishing community. Targeted nearshore means almost everyone has access to them. Whether it's on a boat, the jetties, or the Gulf State Park Pier, these fish provide outstanding fishing action for anglers of all ages.

"There is not a better fish for young kids than a Spanish mackerel," according to McPherson, who trolls spoons with planers and straw rigs along the beach on his trips. "The kids are able to catch the fish by themselves, and many times it is the first fish they ever catch."

Spanish mackerel offer so much to our fishing community

Sunset in Orange Beach Al

McPherson also says fishing for Spanish mackerel provides a unique sightseeing opportunity for everyone on the boat.

"Because these fish are in so close, you are able to see the beach from a totally different perspective than you get when you go for a walk on the beach. Instead of looking out at the water, you are looking back at the beach. Not many people get to enjoy that view."

If you are headed out in your boat and are not familiar with trolling, don't be intimidated. Just pop into one of our local tackle shops, and they can get you set up with a couple of planers, lures, and some leader. For a very modest investment, you'll be all rigged up.

Like so many of us, Spanish mackerel like bright shiny things that move fast! If you are fishing from shore or the pier, use a spinning reel. This will give you the speed needed on the retrieve to entice a strike. Gotcha jigs and Loney jigs are always a solid choice. Use either a wire leader or some heavy mono to avoid cut-offs from the toothy mackerel. Experiment with your retrieval speed and twitch motions. Some days the Spanish mackerel will like it faster than others.

We may not have the exciting travel schedule that Spanish mackerel do, but we do have the opportunity to enjoy their visit.

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Jim Cox
Jim Cox (1327 Posts)
Jim Cox is an avid inshore, offshore, and big game fisherman. He has twice qualified for the prestigious IGFA Offshore Championships in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. He is the past president of the Mobile…