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Sensational mackerel fishing
  |  First Published: May 2004



THE HUGE seas whipped up by the low pressure system during May gave our coastline a fair hammering, but the great fishing that followed more than compensated for the lost days on the water.

The shallower reefs normally fire up after big seas and heavy swell, and the shallower reefs around Point Lookout didn’t disappoint. Snapper, spangled emperor and parrot were caught in their usual haunts, which include the Half-Way, 1 Mile and Middle Reefs as well as Boat Rock and The Group. The food chain gets a real kick along in the stirred-up murky water, and floating back lightly-weighted pillies and fresh fleshbaits like mullet and tailor will take the fish. Shallow Tempest has also turned on some action with Maori cod and quality Moses perch added to the list of species.

A couple of charters in the lead up to the full moon in early April saw some sensational mackerel fishing. On the last charter I had a couple of regular clients (Tony and Dawn O’Brien) aboard and the plan was to chase Spanish mackerel on the coffee rocks along Moreton Island. Crossing the South Passage Bar with a 2m swell on it took a lot of patience, but once we got offshore conditions were excellent, with only the swell to worry about. The first stop was the bait grounds in 25m of water just to the north of the bar. After half an hour we had plenty of livebaits including a dozen XOS slimy mackerel, the premier bait for Spanish mackerel.

We headed to Moreton and the coffee rocks in about 12m of water and quickly got two baits into the water. Before I could get a pillie out between the two livies, the TLD20 on the Live Fibre screamed to life. After a couple of good runs Tony boated a good Spaniard of around 12kg.

We reset the baits and it wasn’t long before another livebait got nailed and we boated another Spaniard of around 8kg. We again reset the bait and trolled back along our track to the start point.

We’d trolled for half an hour without another strike and were just about to move when one of the livebaits was crashed. I kept the boat moving while Tony fought the fish, then the pillie on the middle outfit was hit. Dawn was feeling a little worse for wear in the swell so I grabbed the other pillie rod. Just as I picked it up the third rod buckled over as the livebait was slammed. For the next five minutes it was chaos as three Spaniards galloped all over the ocean. We managed to boat all three fish, which was a great effort; you’d usually expect to lose a fish for one reason or another. The Spaniards weren’t huge fish at around 8kg, but they still gave a great account for themselves.

We decided to try another bit of reef to the north of Mount Tempest chasing larger fish, but could only manage a few more 8kg models. With our bag limit reached we called it quits.

Instead of going back through the South Passage Bar in the middle of the run-out tide with a couple of metres of swell on top, we took the scenic route around Cape Moreton and back to Manly after a great morning’s fishing.

Even though the fishing after a big blow is pretty good, it’s wise to give the coastal bars a few days to settle down before taking them on. No one is infallible, and no matter how good a skipper you think you are it’s just not worth having a swim for the sake of a few fish. A few dive operations learnt this lesson recently, with boats going over on the South Passage and the Tweed bars.

Dolphinfish are being caught at the Wave Rider Beacon off Point Lookout, and May should see bottom fish numbers on the increase as we start to come into the cooler months. May will also see large Spanish mackerel and wahoo caught anglers chasing pelagics.

The first of the big local competitions is nearly upon us again, with the Toyota Fraser Island Fishing Expo on May 22-28. I can’t wait to get back on Fraser to catch up with mates for a cold beer and to experience again the great fishing to be had. Just getting to Fraser with the larger boat is an effort in itself, but the attraction of doing battle with large red emperor and snapper makes it all worthwhile.

Until next month, enjoy your fishing. If you’d like to join me on a charter (maximum 4 persons) contact me at Outlaw Charters on 0418 738 750 or (07) 3822 9527.

1) Bronc with a coffee rocks Spaniard from a recent charter.

2) Col Bennet with a spotted mackerel from the coffee rocks.

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