King and Spanish Macks on the Summer Attack in South Jersey
King mackerel and Spanish mackerel, “Scombrids” is abbreviated scientific names, are beginning to make their collective presence known all along the in-shore mid-range reaches where anglers continue trolling for bluefin and the occasional yellowfin tuna.
Cousins in the tuna family, these aggressive, delicious speedsters are Jersey coast visitors from the south that usually appear in the first week or two in July, sometimes a week earlier or later. Kings are game to get in to moving masses of spreader bars and daisy chains, and in the case of the Spanish macks, smaller spreads of spoons, both putting the scalpel-sharp dentition meant for bigger quarry.
While trolling bars and chains at 6.5- to 7-knots is the primary encounter mode with the longer, thicker, heavier and nastier king (the existing state record is 54-lbs.), the more diminutive Spanish kin (the New Jersey record is 9-lbs. 14-oz.) can, in addition to being caught on the pull, be nailed by casting and rapidly rapidly retrieved metals, the top producer being the chrome Clarkspoon, with or without the red bead, in Nos. 1 through 4 sizes.
Although available in a selection of color patterns, it’s the chrome that draws the majority of the strikes, with the gold plated being a distant but still respectable second.
Both macks offer succulent white-meat fillets that are best grilled, baked or broiled. Not to be overlooked is smoking, especially with an apple or cherry wood flame. Sweet stuff indeed.
The daily limit for kings is three fish at a 23-inch minimum. For Spanish macks, it’s a 14-inch minimum length and 10 fish possession limit.
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