The mackerel are back!
  |  First Published: June 2003

SHOCKING, shocking, shocking! While trolling one of Townsville’s local barra hotspots, I nailed a good legal doggie mackerel, then another and another. We fished for hours catching and releasing doggies until we were dumbfounded to reel in a species that has not been seen in the Townsville waters for a couple of years now: a spotted mackerel! I kid you not – a real live spotty!

Some would tell you that the presence of this piscatorial unicorn has nothing to do with the banning of ring netting along Queensland’s east coast. But if the ring netters hadn’t been decimating stocks before the ban, why are spotties and doggies turning up so early?


It is great to hear that all indications for our winter offshore season are brilliant. Yakka bait schools have moved in on the shoals inside the reef and red emperor and nannygai have followed, with some spots being reported as ‘plagued with mid-sized Spaniards’ all around the 10kg mark. While no marlin captures have been reported at the time of writing, I’m sure some billfish conquests won’t be far away.

Inshore captures of doggies and hopefully spotties will keep the small boat brigade happy. I recommend fishing the Burdekin, Bay Rock, West Point, Middle or Salamander Reefs, Cape Cleveland or the positions affectionately known as the ‘tripods’ marking Townsville’s main harbour channel. Rather than just anchoring up at these spots and floating pillies, try trolling a few lures. The results should put a smile on your face.

Big Spaniards are starting to make an appearance inshore as they hunt doggie mackerel and wolf herring. The best report to date has been Lee Sharret’s 23kg Spaniard taken from the Burdekin Rock on a trolled wolf herring.


Those of you who love the creeks will still find barra on the chew. The cooler weather makes this popular species a little lazy and very fussy, however, so I recommend that you use a live prawn on a dropper rig. As a tasty side dish, grunter, salmon, whiting and the odd flathead will start showing as well.

One last thing – I urge all Queensland fishos to take note of changes to size and bag limits, and also to be aware that the draft plan for rezoning the Great Barrier Reef is just few months away. This document needs everyone’s input to indicate the strength of the voice of recreational fishers. If we don’t make ourselves heard, we’ll no longer be able to fish there.

1) Lee Sharrett and fishing partner Bill with a 23kg Spanish mackerel caught off Townsville.

2) Logan Jones with a doggy mackerel. Plenty of these tasty fish showed up in April.

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