Mackerel and queenies on the chew
  |  First Published: June 2004

AT THE time of writing there’s a low over Tasmania and an approaching high moving across the Great Australian Bight. The result is a cold southeasterly wind constantly blowing at around 20-25 knots. It’s an abrupt end to the warmer wet season and a quick Gulf winter reality check.

There have been a few mackerel already this year and hopefully it will be another good year for one of the most popular big fish in the Gulf. Spanish mackerel are great fun to catch, with a scorching first run that can empty all but the best spooled reels. The flesh is firm and tasty and they can be steaked into cutlets or filleted conventionally. One fish normally provides a big return as far as food is concerned, which makes the bag limit in Queensland of five per person a bit of a joke.

Queenfish are also present at the moment, with schools of fish patrolling the drop-offs and rocky bottoms around the place. Along with the mackerel and queenfish, the odd big GT is also playing havoc with the odd grunter fisherman, and these fish are more than likely responsible for most of the spoolings that occur during the year. Most of our visitors load up their big old egg-beaters with 30lb or 40lb line and wire trace (you can’t afford to replace a hook when you’re on a tight six-month holiday budget), but still use a conventional 6-10kg rod – and they then find that it’s almost impossible to break the rig when it’s emptying out of line at an alarming rate. The result is the loss of a big fish carrying around 100m of 40lb line.


If you’re visiting Karumba in June, try fishing the channels and drop-offs for blue salmon and grunter. Another good option is to travel a mile or two up the coast on the rising tide and fish in tight to the mangroves, as this offers protection from the southeasterly winds. A good starter for bait is squid, as long as it’s of good quality – and the local squid you can purchase in the stores around town is better again. Mullet and prawns are also fine. Live mullet is a good option on one line for a big bluey and the other baits for a grunter. Drop your pots in on the way and collect them on the way back, and you could end up with a seafood feast.

Big queenies should still be around the Sand Island and patrolling the channel edges. Some nice Spaniards have already shown up so let’s hope it’s going to be a good pelagic year. Big GTs are still an option and will test any tackle any time.

School jewfish should start to appear around the place this month, and these fish are great eating when they’re around the 5-6kg mark. Fish the deeper holes with flesh baits or whole squid on the smaller tides. Another option is to find a hump in deeper water and try to fish it during some run with a nice big livie hooked through the nose.

Blue salmon should move into the closer areas to get ready to breed around July and August. Fishing the run-in tide on the flats with mullet bait, or livebait if you can get it, should see good results.


Karumba recently said goodbye to one of its local icons, Ash Colohan of Ash’s Holiday units, who passed away aged 54 years after a long battle with cancer. Ash was one the first people to set up any form of tourism at Karumba Point, firstly selling soft drinks and chips out of his tent. This was back in the days when the only tourists were those in tents who bashed a track up from Mount Isa and camped where the point is today.

One thing led to another and up went the units, which became – and still are – one of the best-known set of units and fish and chip shops in the North. Always there with information whether he knew it or not, Ash was a well respected and hard working bloke who loved a beer (his kegs of homebrew he bought from the pub were his specialty), and he also loved the race horse industry, as illustrated at his graveside service when all present were invited to throw betting slips on his coffin and it was lowered into his final resting place. Ash will be sorely missed by family, friends and all who knew him.

What the?!

It never ceases to amaze me that many people who use public boats have no respect for other users – and the situation seems to be getting worse. Perhaps it is that the growing number of tourists have not grown up using ramps, and just get a boat to use on the big end of life trip. Whatever the reason, it’s very annoying to see some of the tactics used at the ramp.

How about the bloke who parked his car with boat and trailer attached at the top of the ramp early in the morning? I swung around in front of him, waiting for him to reverse down and unhook. He then proceeded to get out of his car and walk down the ramp to his mate who was throwing a cast net. Even when asked to move he refused. What the?

Then the other day there was a bloke parked in the same spot and I did the same thing. He proceeded to stand at his car and put sunscreen on his nose using the side mirror of his car. I had to reverse around him as well to get the boat in.

Then of course there was the bloke who had his boat in the water and was circling 40m from the end of the ramp waiting for the car driver to return from parking the car. Problem was he was doing it at a speed that chopped up the water and sent a bow wave onto the ramp. What a goose. (I used a different word when explaining to him the correct boat ramp procedure.)

There are more examples but I’ll pull up at three to save me getting too worked up.

Until next month.

1) There are plenty of big mackerel around during June.

2) Big grubby GTs often turn up when fishing for mackerel.

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