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Atlantic Horse Mackerel, Trachurus trachurus

Irish Record Fish: We have withdrawn the details on the Irish record and specimen weights as the current IFSC rules require anglers kill all such fish, hardly sporting or conservation minded, is it?  Alternatives exist.
Boat Specimen:
Shore Specimen:
Photo Credit:

Introduction: The Scad or Atlantic Horse Mackerel is a deep water species. Although it is not a bottom feeder per se, you are much more likely to encounter it at depth. Anything > 500 grams (1 lb) is a good fish, although the boat and the shore specimen weights are both 761 grams i.e. 1.5 lbs. The Vadigo and Derbio are similar if larger species - but far rarer encounters in Irish waters, turning up by accident on boat charters well out to sea.  Scad taste like Mackerel, are very bony, beloved by the Japanese (they're welcome to them!) and have a row of tiny spines near the tail.  The large eye gives away their deep water nature and you have to be fishing in 20 metres or more to find them during daylight.  They are persuaded to come inshore on a flooding tide at dusk or in darkness, and like the Mackerel the often swim with, they only migrate inshore in warmer weather.

Boat tactics: You can drop right down to spinning rods as these fish are fairly small fare!   They are typically caught on mackerel feathers, with flourescent and reflective silvery lures working best at such depths.  Baited mackerel feathers also work well as does the strips of the silvery belly.  No one deliberately fishes for Scad except in a species hunt competition, although they are a definite curiosity for most shore-bound anglers. 

Shore tactics: It is possible to find them from shore but you will need access to deep water, and the only place I can think of that guarantees Scad is the sea cliffs on Clare Island in Clew Bay, Co. Mayo.  When you see the sheep dotted onto ledges on the cliffs, you understand why people talk about the sheep being suicidal!  Some are reported caught from deep water harbours and piers like Cobh in the summer and again this is typically in the presence of Mackerel and in low light or darkness.