Mackerel mania
  |  First Published: March 2014

Cyclones and tropical lows during January and early February kept offshore fishing to a minimum but when the wind and the seas settled, the mackerel fishing was red hot!

Spanish mackerel fired up on most of their usual haunts in the south east corner and plenty have been caught right along the coast. There have been some good quality fish around 10kg being caught, but the higher percentage have been of the just legal (75cm) size up to around 8kg. It’s great to see so many smaller Spaniards around and hopefully this means that the species has had some good spawning success recently and we may be seeing positive results from the new regulations and bag limits.

Trolling or drifting live baits or well-rigged dead baits such as bonito or gar have been accounting for plenty of fish, but high speed trolling with minnow lures such as the Halco Laser Pros, and trolling with skirted lures has also been effective.

When chasing mackerel of this size, outfits capable of handling 15kg line is all you’ll need. Add a short length (30-40cm) of 50lb single strand wire and you’re set. This is all I use when trolling bait and minnow lures and I’ll use a similar length of multi-strand wire on my skirted trolling lures.

When rigging live or dead baits, make sure you keep the hook size relevant to the bait being used and only use small black swivels to limit the number of bite offs from the hooked fish’s mates.

Rigging live bait sfor trolling requires a very simple rig involving a front hook arounda 4/0 connected by a short length of wire to a stinger treble in size 1 or 1/0. If you’re new to rigging dead baits, there are a few pre-made ones available in tackle stores such as the Easi Troll or Chin Guard versions, which make rigging baits easy.

Current hot spots down off the Gold Coast include most of the closer reefs off Southport along with Palm and Mermaid reefs and the gravel patch in 30-35m of water east of Burleigh Heads.

Further north The Group off Point Lookout and the coffee rock reefs close in to Moreton Island have been holding good numbers of fish. There have been plenty of Spaniards caught in the Point Lookout area, but sharks have been a real problem some days.

Along with the Spaniards, anglers have been seeing other species such as black marlin, wahoo and yellowfin tuna in the same areas.

Peak bite times have included dawn and dusk and around the tide changes and although I have caught plenty of mackerel in northerlies, they do fire up better with a southerly blowing.

These fish should be around for the next couple of months and they will get bigger, so now’s the time to bag a couple of these top shelf sport and table fish.

• Enjoy your fishing, take care on the coastal bars and if you’d like to join me on charter (Max 8 persons), give me a call at Outlaw Charters on (07) 3822 9527 or 0418 738 750.

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