It’s time to KISS and tell
  |  First Published: October 2007

We are gradually starting to see some welcome breaks in the winter trade wind pattern allowing more fishing opportunities for coastal and inshore anglers. This is all good news as we approach some of the prime fishing months on the whole yearly fishing calendar.

Recently I was out fishing and was reminded of the importance of keeping to the basics even when you think you are one step ahead of the fish.

I certainly don’t believe you have to be a rocket scientist to catch Spanish mackerel in season. However, a little while back I had one of those days when my scientific plan was going horribly pear-shaped until I went back to the basics and followed the old KISS principle, also know as ‘keep it simple stupid.’

The recent break in the weather had finally arrived and I was determined to get out and have a maiden run in my new tinnie. My game plan for the day was to head down to High Island early and deep troll a wolf herring or two, and maybe a gar, and in the process bag a few Spaniards for the table.

I arrived and joined the other dozen or so boats working the area and after an hour and a half of no strikes it was time to change tactics.

I had witnessed about three or four fish captured in that time and despite checking and fine-tuning my baits, it looked like it wasn’t going to be my day. The final time I checked my baits I did notice one wolfie had been axed by something mid way along, but it was small consolation.

At this point my fishing buddy, Col Upham, arrived in his boat and we agreed to tie the boats together and drift some baits like most of the other anglers. This move put a very social flavour on the fishing trip and gave us a chance to catch up.

Col set out two beautifully rigged fresh wolf herring and I put out one wolfie and the old three-hook pillie. I commenced cubing up some pillies and five minutes later my two rods and one of Col’s went off almost at once in a triple hook up.

After all the commotion had subsided we dropped two of the fish and I caught the first Spaniard, a nice specimen about 12kg. Once again we tied the boats off and continued to pull another mackerel with a pillie.

We soon began to drift so we motored back and continued to fish the same spot. Within a few minutes I had my bag limit as number three came onboard, and once again, the bigger wolfie was ignored in favour of a pillie.

I spent considerable time and energy trying to position a well presented wolf herring when the best move was to drift out the old no-frills three-hook pillie rig. Out of nearly fifteen boats that morning we were the only ones drifting out pillies. Nearly everyone these days seems to go for the trolled wolfies because they usually produce the goods.

Since wolf herring have become a lot more known and available through the tackle stores as prime bait, most boaties are using them. Perhaps the mackerel are wising up or getting spooked with so many wolfies being trolled around. The macks just seemed a little more timid that day towards the bigger baits.

One thing is certain, the moral to the tale is to follow the KISS Principle and if you want a mackerel on the table don’t leave home without a few nice pillies to cover all bases.


A disturbing issue on that morning was the presence of a commercial netter right in the middle of the mackerel grounds. And I even witnessed a verbal altercation between a recreational and commercial fisher.

The reco was convinced the commercial driver had cut him off. I have been fishing the High Island spot for around 25 years and I have mates who have been fishing it longer than that. For many years there have been commercial mackerel boats trolling the grounds amongst the reco boats relatively peacefully. This was due to some degree of acceptance because the same fishing methods were being used and the playing field was reasonably level.

In the last few years or so, one pro has shown total disregard for a favourite recreational fishing spot as he sets his deep water nets below the water right in the middle of the mackerel grounds.

It is extremely hard for recreational fishers to accept that a fishing ground once traditionally fished in a method that was acceptable to both pros and recreational fishers, now has become a hunting ground. The one fishing method that has proven all over the world to be unsustainable is the dreaded NETS.

For those that feel as strongly as I do please let your local member Warren Pitt know about your feelings.

On a positive note, October is really one of the top fishing months. The weather is usually so good that catching fish is just a bonus and there are always some great fish on the bite.

Offshore there will be some excellent red fishing and the coral trout are really coming on the bite. And the mackerel will continue to be around for a bit yet.

If you are planning to go offshore remember about the fishing closures over the next three months. The first one this month is on 5-13 October.

Inshore the barra will be on the chew as well as fingermark and mangrove jacks. In the rivers there should continue to be some nice queenies along with a few big GTs. Do yourself a favour and get out there! Till next month – Good Fishing.

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