Looking for help getting live mackerel - UCLA Research


I'm a scientist at UCLA researching fish muscle cell biology. I'm looking for live mackerel to remove some tissue biopsies, but bait shops don't tend to carry them and they're not common at fish markets. I was hoping someone here would be generous enough to help me out next time they were out pier fishing in the LA area. If you are willing to help me out, let me know and I'll send you a private message with more information. Thanks!

- Isaac


Senior Member
I see keeping them alive until delivery to you or the lab as an issue.

Once this predicted few days of rain is gone, I can meet you at Balboa pier in Orange County and try to catch some for you.

Then maybe you can remove tissue biopsies at the pier and transport them to your lab.

Of course, with fishing outings there is no guaranties of catch. Thus, I can call you from the pier if I have some, then you can come over. Or come to catch some yourself. I will provide the tackle and it is not hard to catch them, if they are around.

Please leave comments here.


Active Member
Nice of Mahigeer!
If you want to try and catch your own, grab a rod and reel with a sabiki and be at the pier around 5am, if they are biting in Newport, the early hour or night is best. Good luck!

Ken Jones

Staff member
A visit to the regulars at Redondo Beach,Newport or Balboa might prove productive. They could get your contact information, call you when the macs are running, and set up a time to get some fish. Once caught they are rarely kept alive very long — although sharkers fishing for threshers usually keep them alive and use them as live bait.
You could probably ask one of the Local Landings 1/2 Day Boat to save you some. If you want them live you are going to need a circular saltwater tank with an Ammonia Resin Filtration System or keep them in a Bait Well in the Saltwater. That was my method. They require huge amounts of Oxygen because they are always swimming. More info on keeping them alive can be obtained at Scripps or Kerckhoff Marine Laboratory in Lower Newport Bay. They keep huge tanks full of Subjects alive for long periods.
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Thanks for all the great tips, everyone! I'll take a trip down to redondo beach pier and ask some of the locals for their help. I can take the biopsies at the pier. The samples need to be taken within 6 hours of the mackerel's death - the fresher the better. What's the best time to show up at the pier to connect with the fishermen?

Great suggestion, Bendopolo! I'll reach out to the marine laboratory.


Senior Member
Mackerels are caught 24 hrs. a day if they are around.

On the south corner of the pier there is a fish cleaning station. It could be useful as an operating table.

The anglers who fish that corner are usually the most experience and regulars of that pier.

Although it is illegal to sell fish by recreational anglers, they may be enticed by a tip (Xmas present) for their fish.

There is fish market on the first floor that you may want check out.

There are also seafood restaurants that may have live mackerel.

Best of luck. Please let us know how it goes.