If you haven’t already ticked off your Scad (Horse Mackerel) in this year’s Angling Trust Species Hunt, now’s the time to pull your finger out. Last orders have been called.
We’ve been blessed with an extended summer this year, meaning there is still a huge number of baitfish hugging our coastline. Along the South Coast I’ve heard reports of large numbers of Bass, Mackerel, Scad and even a few Shad, all taking advantage of this valuable food source ahead of the winter.
There are a couple of tips to targeting the Scad within these mixed shoals. In my experience, during daylight hours, the Scad are normally below the Mackerel shoals. It can be infuriating trying to get past the Mackerel on some days. That’s why I like to use small metal jigs (including HTO Shore Jigs) as they can slice quickly through the water column if given plenty of slack line. You can also play around with the position of your hooks. Swap the treble on the bottom for an assist hook, or two fitted at the top and you will hook less fish on the way down as the hooks are pulled away from the lure as it descends. This may allow you to maximise fishing time near the bottom, under the majority of those pesky Mackerel.
Secondly, reduced light and darkness are your friends when targeting Scad from the shore. It may not have escaped your notice that Scad have particularly large eyes. Unlike some of the other pelagic predators, Scad are very capable of hunting at night. In late summer / early autumn, find a venue that has resident baitfish with a permanent floodlight or two and you should have a very good chance of Scad. Unlike during the day, the Scad will be up in the water during darkness.
My preferred way of catching Scad at night is using tiny soft plastic lures on tiny jigheads. Something like the HTO Knight Worm is perfect for this. Flick the lure out, close the bail-arm and allow the lure to descend against a tight line. Only use the reel to retrieve any slack. This will give you a slow drop rate and a curve fall, covering water and maximising your time in the zone. If you feel any bump at all, or even a twitch on your line, flick your wrist to set the hook. It’s addictive fishing on light tackle.
Have fun and good luck on your quest!