Sunday, October 10, 2010

Team Mackerel!

Since early July, the harbors and inlets along Massachusetts Bay from Cape Cod to Cape Ann have been awash with mackerel.

Here in Boston Harbor the mackerel fishing has been "epic". They are great to eat - as sashimi or grilled - and make a great live bait for striped bass, bluefish and tuna.

In fact, some days it felt as if they were following me around the dock... as in this picture.

At first I thought that we had two schools of Atlantic mackerel living under my boat at Constitution Marina, one made up of six inch "tinkers" and one made up of slightly larger fish.

However, I was wrong. Actually, we have two different species of mackerel here in Boston Harbor, and in Provincetown as well. The most common is Scomber Scombrus, the Atlantic Mackerel a staple of fishing here in New England. The second is Scomber Japonicus, the Chub Mackerel - also know as the Pacific Mackerel - which is quite a misleading common name for a fish that inhabits the Atlantic coast.

Here is a picture of the two species together, so you can see the difference for yourself.

The first is Scomber Scombrus - Atlantic Mackerel. The second, Scomber Japonicus - Chub Mackerel. Identification is a little complicate because they look so much alike when they are in the water or bait well. The easiest way to tell the difference is to look for the spots below the squiggles - if there are spots, it is almost certainly a Chub.

As to which species has been following me around the dock this summer and fall, I can't say from the photo. But both species have made this a remarkable season for striped bass and bluefishing here at the dock at Constitution Marina on Boston Harbor.

All the best