Mackerel of all shapes and sizes have found their way north and are readily available to the small tinnie brigade. The weed beds off the mouth of Alligator Creek are producing regular catches of both school and spotted mackerel with the odd cobia thrown in for good measure.
The most popular method of capturing these pelagic speedsters is to float a pilchard on gang hooks. I like to use 4/0 hooks with two or three interconnected hooks, used in conjunction with a consistent berley trail that is heavily loaded with tuna oil and pillies. Moving your pilchard slowly through the berley trail or even opting for a metal slice can create the extra excitement needed to switch fussy fish onto a feeding frenzy. Just be aware of GBRMPA yellow zone areas!
Just across Cleveland Bay, Cape Cleveland is on the top of the list when it comes to easy access and quality catches of Spanish mackerel. Lures or baits such as gar or wolf herring trolled at around 6 knots just on dawn will put you in with a good chance. Your local tackle store can set you up with some ‘Evil Eyes’ chin guards and I also know many anglers have very effective homemade trolling heads. Armed with 8/0 or 9/0 hooks, these are proven mackerel magnets.
West Point as well as Burdekin and Bay Rocks are also easy accessible to boaties by either the town ramp or the Bohle River ramp.
Whilst Cape Cleveland tends to have more large mackerel, the western side of Magnetic Island holds larger numbers of the species, thus increasing hook-up rates for anglers. Fortunately most of the better spots are well outside the Marine Park’s yellow zone, allowing the use of more than one rod. This allows anglers to have floaters for mackerel left unattended with a ratchet on, while bottom bouncing for nannygai, flathead or grunter.
Speaking of grunter, it’s worth mentioning the brilliant run of large grunter on the northern beaches such as Saunders, Balgal, Toomulla and Bushland. Pumping live yabbies will produce a few grunter. With this bait option you may be more likely to take a big winter whiting, but that isn’t really a bad thing! The majority of good grunter are falling to peeled prawns and mullet fillets. Try fishing a running rig using the smallest sinker you can get away with during an early evening run in tide.
Further offshore the usual suspects have been very forthcoming, with regular reports of red emperor, large mouth nannygai and sweet lip when anglers have been able to get out there.
I must admit I may have been guilty of making some derogatory comments in regards to the skills of the weather bureau in the last couple of months. The regular predictions of wind speeds on the Townsville coast of 20-25 knots have all too often seen anglers watching 5-10 knots gently blowing across Cleveland Bay from their land-based possie and quietly cursing the Year 10 work experience kid at the bureau for clearly getting it wrong!
However, they have been getting it right lately and hopefully light winds shall prevail and find us all out fishing this month.Reads: 1212