Mackerel Feeding Frenzy

An evening fishing trip on the beach allowed us to witness one of nature’s most amazing sights down in West Dorset this weekend.

The sea was bubbling with fish. Just below the surface shoals of iridescent mackerel were chasing the silver whitebait up onto the beach. As far as the eye could see, a metre wide strip of wriggling sprats were beached and trying to shimmy back to the sea.

Shoal of white bait washed up

We had first noticed the gulls gathering on the shore a few minutes earlier. They were getting excited and soon, so were we. I had thought it would be too windy for fishing so had not prepared my rod. I won’t make that mistake again.

With shaky hands, the rod was set up with mackerel feathers. Ah, but I had not threaded the line around the line pickup!! With the sea boiling away beside me the line was disassembled and threaded through properly. We were away!

Immediately after casting into the dark patch of choppy water, I felt a promising tug on the rod. Reeling in revealed 4 mackerel, one on each hook.

This natural phenomenen occurs during the warmer months. The mackerel feed on the whitebait and are predated upon by the larger bass. If you’re lucky you might catch mackerel and bass on the feathers.

The sun was setting as the mackerel were carefully gutted, and cleaned in the sea. I was grateful for my catch and thankful that nature had provided once again. Luckily, iced water bottles were on hand to keep the fish cold until morning.

The whitebait that were gathered from the shingle were threaded onto driftwood sticks and suspended over the coals. Less than an hour old, this was a delicious and rewarding evening snack.


By Becky – Coastal Survival Instructor.

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