Prize catch: Spanish mackerel

They're peaking in Bay

8.45-pounder is state mark


August 29, 1999|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

Among the most pleasant surprises Chesapeake Bay anglers might encounter at this time of year is a good run of Spanish mackerel, a long, thin fish that mixes with schools of blues and rock and hits lures with abandon.

Buddy Fuller of Mechanicsville got the best possible surprise on Aug. 16 -- an 8.45-pound Spanish mackerel that set a state record.

Fuller, 17, was fishing southwest of the Target Ship aboard the Lisa S when the 32.5-inch fish hit a small, gold Huntington Drone spoon.

The Lisa S is based at Scheible's Fishing Center in Ridge, and that day's charter party was trolling the edges of mixed schools of mackerel, bluefish and rockfish.

Martin Gary, who tracks recreational and commercial catches for the Fisheries Service, said the maximum size for Spanish mackerel normally is around 30 inches.

"So that is a pretty good catch in our waters, where we really have a peripheral fishery for Spanish mackerel," Gary said, adding that only in Louisiana and Florida did he find larger state records for the species.

Fuller could not be reached to comment.

According to Fisheries Service biologists, we may be at the peak of the Spanish mackerel run now, with these fish having moved into the lower and middle bay areas over the past two weeks.

Best method for catching mackerel is to troll or cast small gold spoons where mixed schools are feeding on the surface.

If trolling, work the outside of breaking schools rather than trolling through the middle and causing the fish to go deep.

If casting, set up a drift to carry across the longest edge of the school, heading from deeper water to shallower water if possible.

O.C. grand slam

The charter boat Liquidator out of Ocean City recently recorded a grand slam when Capt. David Fields led his party to blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish on the same day.

Overall, Fields' party caught and released four whites, two blues and a sailfish. Another sailfish would have given them an unprecedented double grand slam off Ocean City.

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