How do you mackerel fish at night?

Derrick.Van

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Mar 26, 2019
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I was fishing the whole day on a pier yesterday. I started fishing at 10 am. The whole day I only caught 3 mackerel jigging, the whole pier didn't do good on mackerel until 30 minutes before sunset. I saw boils of bonito though and they were jumping out of the water and chasing bait the whole day. I must have saw over 10 boils of bonito but only 4 were caught that day and none by me. I only started catching fish during the last 30 minutes of daylight and solid mackerel fishing at night with nice grade macks, I don't think I caught any baby during the night bite.

What I am wondering is that I see everyone using green light sticks and I went to big 5 and got some, but they only sold green and red in a combo pack. Is red bad for mackerel fishing? I don't see anyone using anything besides green. Does the light stick act like a bobber? The macks only bit on the surface so I had a bit of trouble keeping my rig on top but I got by just fine and had a good day with 13 solid macks. Seems like the mack bite has switched to the night bite so I want to figure out how to fish at night effectively.
 
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swami 805

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Mar 9, 2016
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Fish by a light and chum. I use a can of catfood punch some holes in it and hang it right on the surface so a little comes out from wave action.
 
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Derrick.Van

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Derrick Van
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Fish by a light and chum. I use a can of catfood punch some holes in it and hang it right on the surface so a little comes out from wave action.
does the color of the light stick matter? I fished by the light yesterday since that's where they only bit lol
 
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FishinMcNuggets

I've edited enough I should section this post.
  • Oct 25, 2010
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    Derrick,

    Most people use the light so they can see when the macks pickup your bait. Another option is to flyline a chunk bait near a light, so you can see the pickup. Macks are notorious for picking up and dropping again. Red should be ok. Use it like a water bobber, with a 2 foot leader or so. The true secret to fishing bones in your situation is to get a trout rod with 4 or 6lb line. Tie on a marabou crappie jig, and fish it like the tiny bait you see. Maybe a kastmaster would work too.

    -Mike
     
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    Derrick.Van

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    Derrick,

    Most people use the light so they can see when the macks pickup your bait. Another option is to flyline a chunk bait near a light, so you can see the pickup. Macks are notorious for picking up and dropping again. Red should be ok. Use it like a water bobber, with a 2 foot leader or so. The true secret to fishing bones in your situation is to get a trout rod with 4 or 6lb line. Tie on a marabou crappie jig, and fish it like the tiny bait you see. Maybe a kastmaster would work too.

    -Mike
    I have a trout rod with 30lb braid and 15lb flouro would that work? I have a blue castmaster jig that's 2 inches long.

    I also rigged up a bubble rig with a 5/0 white rockfish feather. I have two rigged up one with 3' leader one with 5', would that work too? I saw people on the pier catch them on bubble rigs
     
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    Reel 007

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    Jun 12, 2006
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    So what do you do with the mackerel once you catch them.
     
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    stonefly

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    Finally I can post something useful to the board of all knowledge.

    People use the green because that is all they can easily get but you can get multi color packs or about any color you think works online.

    Search 1.5" light sticks.

    Before I started fishing the San Diego boats I was longtime PB and mothership fishing in the Sea of Cortez.

    No bait companies in the midriff islands so we stayed up late making bait,
    no bait/no grouper.....simple as that.

    I tested this question you happen to have scientifically some years ago.

    When the moon is up it's tough for the boat lights to pull bait in regardless but when we were doing poorly I put on a light where no one else had one and started making bait when no one else was.

    Having proved that I passed out light sticks and we all caught bait and got to hit the bunks,

    color made no difference that I could tell but so you know it's not just mackerel that the light sticks work on.
     
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    Capt.C.Delany

    The only fishing I do is trolling the Internet
  • Jun 22, 2014
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    The color red does not travel through water as good as green. That is another reason. That is why some of the light boats you see have green lights.

    Here is what it all boils down to. (Pun intended) Light, regardless of source attracts phytoplankton. Phytoplankton attracts bait, bait attracts game fish.

    In a typical Southern California inshore setting the “game fish” will more than likely be mackerel. Despite them often times being a nuisance, they are still a predator and in the tuna family. They occupy the upper water column so are naturally usually the first on scene.

    As others have said, fish near the pier lights, bring a couple cans of cat food with you. If you have a net on a rope drop it in just below the surface so it can move around in the water releasing its contents, which more than likely will be pieces of mackerel. Lol.
    1601350472851.jpeg
     
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    pukahd

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    Way back in the 70/ 80's my dad and I would go to Hermosa Pier and bring a camping lantern. Those were those white gas Coleman lanterns and tie a rope and dangle it about 10' from the water. Picked off mackeral every visit.

    Best bait...mackeral strips.
     
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    Derrick.Van

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    Way back in the 70/ 80's my dad and I would go to Hermosa Pier and bring a camping lantern. Those were those white gas Coleman lanterns and tie a rope and dangle it about 10' from the water. Picked off mackeral every visit.
    I was fishing hermosa yesterday and pretty much all the bites (to my knowledge) was at the end of the pier where there was the white lights. First time mackerel fishing at night (where they were biting like crazy and pretty much wide open, I've fished night but at a slow pick) so it was so cool to see that everything people said on this thread was actually true and was something I noticed
    The color red does not travel through water as good as green. That is another reason. That is why some of the light boats you see have green lights.

    Here is what it all boils down to. (Pun intended) Light, regardless of source attracts phytoplankton. Phytoplankton attracts bait, bait attracts game fish.

    In a typical Southern California inshore setting the “game fish” will more than likely be mackerel. Despite them often times being a nuisance, they are still a predator and in the tuna family. They occupy the upper water column so are naturally usually the first on scene.

    As others have said, fish near the pier lights, bring a couple cans of cat food with you. If you have a net on a rope drop it in just below the surface so it can move around in the water releasing its contents, which more than likely will be pieces of mackerel. Lol.
    View attachment 1205940
    Well, time to give my red sticks to my friend as a gift. I wanted all green originally but my big 5 only sold combo packs as survival tools.

    the science behind how light travels through water is interesting, no wonder I didn't see any reds on the pier, it was all green and a few blues, I sure red will still work though since I was getting bit with no light at all. Thanks for the science lesson I can't wait to put my new-found knowledge to the test
     
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    Capt.C.Delany

    The only fishing I do is trolling the Internet
  • Jun 22, 2014
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    the science behind how light travels through water is interesting, no wonder I didn't see any reds on the pier, it was all green and a few blues, I sure red will still work though since I was getting bit with no light at all. Thanks for the science lesson I can't wait to put my new-found knowledge to the test


    That is why back in the day (pre-flouro) guys would fish pink line.
     
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    FishRock

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    So how are folks connecting the light stick to the line. To the swivel at the top of the Sabiki rig or to the weight at the bottom. And what size light stick? The big 6 to 7 inch ones folks wear or carry or are they the small 1 to 2 inch sticks meant for fishing.
     
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    Capt.C.Delany

    The only fishing I do is trolling the Internet
  • Jun 22, 2014
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    This may seem obvious but figured I would throw it out there.

    One trick you can do is freeze your chum/cat foot. It will last a bit longer. However it may be more hassle/mess than it is worth instead of just going to the dollar store and loading up on a few more cans of cat food.

    If the wife will let you and you are able to find that chum bucket Sabiki rig, (my first time seeing it, it looks awesome) take some of the cat food and put it in an ice tray. Then you have nice little cubes to drop in it.
     
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    Derrick.Van

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    Derrick Van
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    This may seem obvious but figured I would throw it out there.

    One trick you can do is freeze your chum/cat foot. It will last a bit longer. However it may be more hassle/mess than it is worth instead of just going to the dollar store and loading up on a few more cans of cat food.

    If the wife will let you and you are able to find that chum bucket Sabiki rig, (my first time seeing it, it looks awesome) take some of the cat food and put it in an ice tray. Then you have nice little cubes to drop in it.
    Thanks for the tip, next time I go to my local tackle shop I'll keep a lookout for these. If I do find them I might just shove a bunch of mackerel in the chum bucket because I don't want to mess with cat food since I fish often and I have a feeling cat food is going to get all over the place. I might try the frozen cat food once because that sounds like that would work really well

    So how are folks connecting the light stick to the line. To the swivel at the top of the Sabiki rig or to the weight at the bottom. And what size light stick? The big 6 to 7 inch ones folks wear or carry or are they the small 1 to 2 inch sticks meant for fishing.

    This is what I saw, and what I'm going to do, and I am no expert on this but here's my 2 cents. I am going to use a 6inch light stick since I saw other people who were successful using it. I am going to put a ball on my swivel and put the light stick above the swivel past the ball
     
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    Xue

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    The light attracts the fish to that area. A mackerel will eat if there is food. The times that they aren't biting is simply because they are not there, or not able to locate your bait.

    Mackerel are constantly on the move and if you don't have something to keep them coming back, will leave because that's just what they do. It's just like tuna in that you have to constantly chum to keep them close to the boat. Once the food is gone so are they.

    On days or nights when you'd say "they are not biting today" is because they are not there. A pier is a stationary object that you are standing on in an open ocean. These fish swim many miles in that open ocean and the chance of them coming to your location is very small. It's actually surprising that they do visit the pier almost daily as often as they do in season.
     
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