Winter delivers mackerel
  |  First Published: June 2012

The first month of winter is here already; 2012 sure feels like it’s going by quick! As the days roll on through June, the air and water temperatures will decrease as we move deeper into winter.

As everything becomes cooler, the fishing options will also change. Some fish species will become a much better target due to seasonal migrations, others will become harder to catch as the cool water conditions create less active fish.


One type of fish species that is known to make the migration from southern waters is the Spanish mackerel. These streamlined pelagic predators should begin to show up in numbers around the Whitsunday Islands in June.

The cooler months are often considered the best time of year for targeting these speedy fish. Some truly big brutes stop by certain locations as they travel up the coast. They can show up around any of the islands but popular locations include Nara Inlet, Double Cones and the northern tip of Hayman Island.

Some locations will tend to hold more fish at certain times, and once you’ve found one big fish there is a chance there are more around the vicinity due to their schooling nature.

The best way to catch Spanish mackerel is by trolling dead baits that are rigged to swim. Garfish and wolf herring are great baits to use. Wolf herring are best trolled with a set of ganged hooks and garfish best used with a large single hook. Large hardbody lures like the Rapala X-Rap Magnum and Stiffy Mackerel Mauler can also work well.

You need to have a large reel with a fast gear ratio when targeting heavy Spaniards. We like to use an 18000 size Shimano Stella reel with a T-Curve Bluewater 15-24kg rod. These fish are super fast and often make scintillating runs during the fight. This can easily create slack line if they bolt towards you and the hooks can come out much easier.

Some experienced Spanish mackerel anglers will ‘gun’ the boat when a fish strikes the bait. This means they go hard on the throttle for a few seconds to set the hooks in. This creates a better hook-up, especially when trolling large wolf herring where the hook points are concealed inside the bait.


Peter Faust Dam has fished very consistently over the last year. The lake is more alive compared to two to three years ago, thanks to the great work of the Peter Faust Dam Fish Stocking Association.

Because of the fast growth rate of the impoundment barramundi, it doesn’t take too long for fingerlings to grow into metre-long trophy fish. There are a range of fish sizes in the lake at present; from 70-85cm size fish the most common up to a very healthy 90-110cm class showing up.

With cool lake water temperatures, the barramundi will tend to feed less often, but that doesn’t mean the fishing will be bad. Winter can offer some truly great fishing if you find the fish and get the right weather conditions.

The cooler months are often a good time for targeting big fish in shallow water as well. Good places to start searching include any lay-down or horizontal timber. These timbered zones are usually the most productive when there are some solid, chunky timber combined with light branches. If the patch of timber is isolated and situated on some type of drop-off, the area is well worth a plethora of casts.

If you’re into catching large sooty grunter, the cooler months of the year can be quite productive at Peter Faust Dam. There are plenty of solid 40-50cm+ sooty grunter in the lake that tend to be found in the shallows in large numbers throughout the cooler months. They too tend to hang around fallen timber or around the branches of large exposed standing trees.

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