Mackerel on the chew
  |  First Published: June 2005

At the time of writing the typical Gulf winter weather pattern has kicked into gear with southeasterly winds consistently blowing in the morning and the afternoon sea breezes becoming less frequent. The chill in the air every morning means that it must be mackerel time again.

There have been a few mackerel already this year and hopefully it will be another good year for one of my favourite 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 gives you a lot of meals. The other advantage is that if you go wide looking for them, you normally get plenty of ocean to yourself.

Once again, queenfish are patrolling the drop-offs and big GTs are occasionally playing havoc with grunter anglers; these fish are more than likely responsible for most of the spoolings that occur during the year.


If you are 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. Don’t worry if it’s your first time – there will be a thousand other boats there to guide you. Most of the yearly visitors don’t miss an opportunity to smash a few blueys, so if you see a pack of boats together then go and join them.

A good starter for bait is squid, as long as it is of good quality. Local squid purchased in stores around town is recommended; mullet and prawns are also fine. It’s a good idea to have live mullet on one line for a big bluey and baits on the other for a grunter. If you drop your pots in on the way and collect them on the way back, you could end up with a seafood feast.


Fishing further north has been outstanding with plenty of big barra on offer on both live baits and lures. During a five-day extended trip, one intrepid group of anglers from Brisbane managed to tag and release over 30 barra, with one angler catching a 1.35m fish and another catching three fish over a metre (1.22m, 1.06m and 1.01m). Both anglers had never even caught a barra before the trip!


Karumba recently said goodbye to one of its local icons. The reasonably big saltwater croc that used to live in the town reach of the Norman River has been removed. The croc allowed people to actually see one of our northern apex predators in the wild and it seems that his only offence was being a crocodile. I know that the blokes who trapped him aren’t at fault. There are rules in place for the behaviour of crocs and unfortunately someone forgot to tell him that he wasn’t allowed to swim near humans.

The good news is that the fools who drag bait nets up to their neck can do so now, knowing that there is one less reason to be fearful. Those people who love to bash catfish over the head and leave them on the beach can also do so now with gay abandon and know the next time they return, they will not have attracted the croc to the area with their stupidity.


It only seems fair this month, with the removal of the local crocodile, that we give some sort of award to the thoughtless person who dumped all the barra frames and skins at the town boat ramp in April. Good work champ.

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