How to kill a mackerel – essential equipment

I have been doing this for a year now – the anniversary passed sometime towards the end of last week. There have been almost 300 posts and about 10,000 views in total. I hope that those who are still reading get some enjoyment out what sometimes feels like a stream of non connected nonsense that I put down on this white screen.

The good news is that somewhere in the background the book about mackerel is taking on a different shape and I am working on ways to get the man with a black beard in there. The difficulty is that I know who he is and what he is saying but will someone get him if they pick the book up cold. Maybe I will have to give him a name.

Anyway looking through my latest new cookbook – Josh Sutton’s The Guyrope Gourmet I realised that what the book about mackerel is missing is an equipment list for both out and in side the kitchen. So here goes – starting with the outside:-

A boat – suitable for catching mackerel from. It can by a kayak, a robust dingy or something more substantial. The important thing is that it should have the means, be it oars or a paddle or an engine that works, to get you and your line to where the mackerel swim.

A pier or rock – in the absence of a boat you can occasionally catch mackerel from the shore. I have only seen one mackerel caught on a line from the end of the pier. But then one year I managed to catch some from the slipway. The tide was high and the fish had come in right up close to the wall under The Butter House chasing sprat and they bit easily at the hooks I dangled in the water. But that was luck. Otherwise you need to know your spot and be there at the right time of day, when the tide is right, for when they come in close enough to shore to be caught.

A line – this has been described elsewhere. They are easily bought close to the coast. It is always worth having an extra line just in case the first gets ‘lost’ and some spare feathers and lead weights. If the mackerel aren’t biting then a new set of feathers may make the difference although rusty hooks and bedraggled feathers have worked just as well as shiny new ones.

A vague notion of where to fish for them.

The priest – something to knocked them dead. A piece of wood is good. There needs to be some weight to it so that a quick sharp tap at the back of the head gets them right.

A sharp knife – sharp enough so that it will nick a slice off the top of your finger if you try to play air guitar with it. It should have a good point on it as well to start at the gutting.

A flat stone – to lay the fish on as you fillet them.

Gulls – to screech and yawk back their heads and to fight over the guts and the heads.

A beach – with stones to make up a fire and driftwood for fuel.

Pub – to supply pints for when you come back to the pier successful with a bucket of mackerel and then to fortify you as you bloody hands down by the rocks.

In the kitchen it is worth having to hand those things that go well with mackerel. They are oily fish and need something sharp to cut through that so; lemons, garlic, paprika, cumin, coriander/parsley, rhubarb/gooseberries.

If I am going to fry them then some olive oil or butter is good.

Bread or potatoes to eat with them.

And not forgetting another pint or two to wash them down.

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