Of Smacks, Blues, and Skips

Spanish-Mackerel-Alias-Smack-for-short-100x100-By Ed Snyder/Outdoors
Speckled Trout, Redfish, and Flounder are the main attractions offered here at Rollover Pass, but when the Smacks, Blues, and Skips come to visit, try them out for the sport and variety that our Texas Coastal waters provide for your saltwater adventures. Though these three mentioned species are seasonal (mostly summer) trespassers to our Texas Coastal areas, such as passes and piers, they are a great “other” species for anglers to enjoy.

Spanish Mackerel
The tide is unusually clear as it rips outbound towards the Gulf. Snapping and splashing noises suddenly joins the void between air and water as anglers watch feeding fish start blowing up on surfacing bait-fish. A feeding frenzy is about to happen right before their eyes, spurring them into action grabbing their fishing gear. Hurriedly tying on spoons, plugs, or whatever else that may attract a bite from their tackle packs, they soon join the long line of anglers trying to get in on the action.

“FISH ON, yells the first angler to cast, with rod already arching to the bite of a big fish with line singing through the water. “It’s a smack for sure, he yells to his friends JUST before a loud Thwack frees the angler from his fish, leaving only a bruised ego and a busted line in the wake of 10 ft jumps and 30 ft runs.

Proud dad with proud son with his SMACK

Proud dad with proud son with his SMACK

The fish was a smack for sure, probably a two or three pounder with gnashing teeth quickly slashing through his line. Spanish Mackerel, or Smack for short, have razor sharp teeth and sizzling quick, powerful runs when trying to escape the anglers hook. Some anglers refer to smacks as a fish with a 1,000 mile an hour run. And believe me, they’re estimates aren’t far off. One thing is for sure though, you’ll need a steel leader and a good drag system with steeled nerves when hooking up to these high speed critters.

Although most Texas coastal anglers shy from eating them, Spanish Mackerel are excellent table fare when cooked properly. First upon catching one (make sure it’s a legal-fish) slice the tail for bleeding out and toss it in a cooler of ice to chill.

When you are ready to clean and cook, take fish out of cooler and use your hand to rub the mackerels fine scales off, then gut and filet, leaving skin on (cut out red flesh). Fire up the grill and after brushing olive oil on skin-side, lay filets skin side down on grill. Brush olive oil on flesh of filet side then salt and pepper to taste. When skin side browns, flip filets to flesh side. This will take only a few minutes for both sides to brown-up. Plate on leaves of romaine lettuce and serve with fresh sliced tomatoes along with your favorite chilled beverage. Note: Mackerel are also great when pan saute’d or smoked. Spanish Mackerel limits in TX are 14 inches minimum with a 15 fish creel. Texas State record is 8.74 lbs.

Lady Fish
This critter leaps and jumps like its larger cousin the silver king “Tarpon”, which is often referred to as a false tarpon. Also known as a Skip-Jack, or Lady Fish, this silver tube of sheer muscle earns its Tarpon like references. These fish are EXCELLENT fighters when caught on any type of fishing rod, but are really superb when hooked on Fly fishing gear. And much like the Tarpon, it only gives a possible one landing out of ten catch rate.

Good Lady-Fish held by this Lady Angler

Good Lady-Fish held by this Lady Angler

When skips are in a feeding spree, ALL artificial baits will work, but the fly rod is the most sportiest and exciting way to catch them. A simple 2 to 3 inch mylar-streamer will do here folks with at least a 6 lb tippet. Any lighter tippet will strip and break due to its abrasive bite. The skip-jack will provide exciting leaps and speedy runs for the sport anglers, but are bony and inedible as table fare. Mostly favored as Shark bait, the skip is mostly a sport-fish. There are no length or creel limits listed for Lady-Fish in TX waters, with the state record listing only a 5.70 pounder in its file.

Blue Fish
The blue fish is probably the least known of these three fish due to it mostly being an East Coast species. But these bluish blood-fish can be a hand full when caught. Most caught here in Texas Coastal waters are small, seldom reaching 2 lbs, which are called “chopper blues” on the east coast where they often reach blue fish status of 30 pounds. Texas does have a State record of 16.62 lbs listed on file.

Young angler with his nice blue

Young angler with his nice blue

Blue fish are scrappy fighters with teeth, that is why they call them “choppers”. This fish can definitely put some damage on your fishing rigs. The best bait for these toothy critters is the silver spoon; they’ll hit live baits such as mullet or shrimp, but spoons are the main enticements for blue fish. Blue fish being a blood fish doesn’t make them a very tasty fish fry, but are however great on the grill or smoker. Smoked Blue fish can be turned into a gourmet item for the dinner table by mixing smoked Mackerel in with it, along with your normal tuna fish style mixology. Spread on your favorite wafer to eat then cleanse your palate with your favorite chilled brew and you’ll have the best appetizer before serving up your seafood entrees.

Ed Snyder/ Outdoors article sponsored by
Miss Nancy’s Bait Camp (FB)
The Beach Triton

(This article published 8/3/2015)

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