Fun with a Less Desirable Species

Published on August 12th, 2012 by Rodney

While we were in Ucluelet last week, we couldn’t stop noticing the high abundance of mackerel that were swimming in the harbour. Mackerel, or chub mackerel to be precise, typically reside in the Pacific Ocean further south from British Columbia. They creep into this part of the ocean during years when warmer ocean current makes its way to the north. It can be problematic, as these pelagic fish predate on juvenile Pacific salmon as they travel from the estuary to the ocean. They travel in large schools and are highly efficient when feeding.

After our salmon and halibut fishing trip with Big Bear Salmon Charters, we just had to try getting a few of these mackerel on our light tackle from their floating dock. These fish are in fact very fun to catch when matched with the right gear setup. It is a species that I used to target while living in Australia during my teen years, so I was rather excited to be able to experience it again.

Mackerel on the fly

We brought our ultralight spinning rod and 3wt fly fishing rod. The choice of lures and flies did not really matter, because they seemed to be chasing anything that moves in the water. Whenever a fish was hooked, a few dozens would chase behind it. This made some pretty spectacular feeding action. Most of these fish were in the 12 to 14 inches range, but the odd ones were much bigger than the rest. A few fish that we hauled in were easily three or four times bigger than the rest.

Chub mackerel

Chub mackerel

While British Columbians are pretty familiar with eating our salmon and trout, we know very little about eating mackerel. This is in fact a rather widely eaten species around the world. They are grilled in Asia, pan fried in Southern Europe, smoked in Northern Europe. They are rich in oil and flavour, which can be quite delicious when cleaned and prepared properly. We brought a few dozens back home to enjoy.

The mackerel harvest

We also had the opportunity to help Ucluelet Aquarium during our stay. They needed some live mackerel to be transported to Vancouver Aquarium for display and we were glad to assist. If you drop by the aquarium in the near future, perhaps you’ll get a chance to see some of these fish caught by yours truly.

Here is a seven minute video feature of our mackerel fishing experience!

If you are heading over to the West Coast of Vancouver Island in the next couple of months, be sure to pack a light rod so you can also experience this fishery.

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