Mackerel are a premium fighting fish for recreational anglers and can be caught easily fishing with metal slices. Most Mackerel species are top grade food fish and are a staple fishing catch around many parts of the world.
During the winter months we see the arrival of the lesser mackerel species and the main two are the Queensland School Mackerel (Doggy) and the Spotted Mackerel (Spotties). They move through Northern Queensland during the June to August period and then make their way south along the east coast of Australia thereafter.
While they are quite often caught in waters as shallow as 3 to 5 metres inshore on the bigger tide periods, which are around the moons, not many people know what they do on the neaper tides as they seem to disappear during this period.
So what do they do?
I have found their pattern over the years and they simply move further out to offshore waters mostly around the 25 to 28mts, sometimes a little shallower. They will wander around until they find baitfish hanging on rubble bottom. The baitfish they feed on are yakkas, pilchards and herring mostly.
Once you have found the baitfish, one of the best methods to use for catching mackerel is retrieving metal slices.
When the fish are on the bottom in among the bait drop your slices down to the bottom and retrieve very fast until your lure is halfway up. If you don’t get a strike by then drop it back down and try again. If they are on the bait then it does not take long for the action to start.
Watch the video for some more tips on how to catch them and the exact technique to use.
The Queensland school mackerel is a great beginner’s fish especially for kids as they provide great entertainment and are easy to catch. Schoolies are a little dry if overcooked but make a great fish to smoke or use in dishes such as sushi and sashimi. However the Japanese spotted Mackerel is a great all round eating fish like its bigger cousin the Spaniard or Spanish (King) Mackerel.
When using slices try the 3 to 4 inch sizes. 3 inch is great for school mackerel but the spotted mackerel can grow up to 7 kg or more and they really like the slightly larger slices around the 4 inch mark. One very important thing like all lure fishing is that you must always use protective sunglasses as on the very odd occasion they can flick the lure back at you when they are along-side.
The best thing about slices is they will still feed on them even when they stop taking floating pillys and trolling methods. There is something about a fleeing bait fish heading vertically that they just can’t resist.
Now is a good time to be heading out and giving them a go.
And while you are out on the briny, keep an eye out for the illusive Wonky Holes – honey holes for reef fish such as large mouth nannygai and red emperor. You can find out more about Wonky Holes by watching our exclusive Wonky Holes presentation.
I would love to hear your experiences with mackerel and other species so please feel free to join the discussion in the comments below.
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