Bring on the Spaniards
  |  First Published: June 2010

It seemed like so long ago we were cursing the non-stop torrential downpour of the wet season. Now it’s a different story with most mornings bringing warm amber tinted skies and the comfort of a favourite woolly jumper.

Unfortunately the steady 25-30 knot winds have kept many larger boats in the shed, but there have been a few opportunities to fire up the outboard and head out wide.

Coral trout and red throat emperor are always a welcome catch on board, but the action that comes of a night time has been first class. The wider reefs and deeper water has turned on some fantastic red fishing, with red emperor becoming a more frequent catch along with a swag of large-mouth nannygai all averaging 8-10kg.

As you would expect the Spanish mackerel reports out at the reef are really starting to pick up. As schooling mackerel around 6-8kg make short work of trolling runs, climbing all over lures trolled close to the reef. In the coming months these reports should continue, and the average mackerel size should jump to around the 12kg mark.

Trolling lures behind the boat is a proven way to catch mackerel but will often result in average school size fish. For your chance to tangle with the big macks try trolling rigged baits like garfish on a woghead or big wolf herring on a chin guard.

Both are equally effective, but they also have a time and place to be most productive.

As a rule of thumb troll wolf herring close to deep water headlands and inshore islands with the motor engaged in dead idle. For the shoals and reef areas, garfish become a more productive presentation and trolling speeds should be focused between 4-6knots.

The shoals off Maggie Island continue to produce some excellent large-mouth nannygai and of course Spanish mackerel.

Often described as the featureless desert of the sea, the shoals is home to a host of bottom dwelling and pelagic species. In these areas look for baitfish and not just structure as predators won’t stray too far away from the bait. If possible use fresh fillet slab baits to increase your chances of securing that prized red!

Other areas such as Salamander Reef will begin to hold good size Spanish mackerel, with drifted pilchards under a float the most organised way to fish here with the amount of boat traffic around.

For the lure enthusiasts be sure to get in early and cast a few poppers and metal slices near the rocky outcrop. It can turn on some of the most exciting pelagic fishing with schools of monster queenfish, Spaniards and GTs all available at the right time.

Closer to shore the shipping channel and West point have been home to a good number of school mackerel. Matching the hatch is crucial this time of year as they remain a little finicky until winter is in full swing.

Other winter species such as queenfish, trevally and juvenile nannygai all move in close this time of year and all prove worthy sportfish with the right tackle. Try using lighter gear for these mini speedsters, as heavy tackle can sometimes take the sport out of doggy mackerel fishing.

Remember if you have the line capacity you can land just about anything, and it gives you a chance to appreciate and have fun with the smaller fish.

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