The biggest, the best, the fastest and meanest mackerel of them all brings angler to their knees just thinking about them. This fish can peel hundreds of meters off your reel, causing your drag to smoke on the first run. It is an awesome feeling watching the line peel from your reel at a great rate of knots, with the drag screaming, not knowing when the fish will slow up and that there may be the possibility of getting spooled as the fish heads for the horizon. The fish is the spanish mackerel and this past fortnight, they have been in excellent numbers all along the SE coastline.
Spanish mackerel have a size limit of 75cm min and bag limit of 3 fish which is more than enough if you are feeding a hungry family of six. The smaller mackerel around the 75-85cm mark definitely don’t go as hard; unless fished on light line, but the 10kg and heavier specimens go like the clappers on standard 10kg set ups - especially if you hook one while at anchor.
This Spanish mackerel season on the Sunshine Coast brings plenty of good sized fish for a solid two or so months in Autumn. The smaller fish around the 5-8kg then start to move south leaving 8kg+ fish and increasing number of big rogue fish of 15-25kg to grace us with their presence usually right through to the end of winter.
At the moment these big rogue Spaniards are feeding off the coast and seem to be hanging down deeper in the water column. Live or dead bait trolled down deep will produce the best results and biggest fish. Baits should be trolled along with the outboard just in forward gear so that boat is moving at 1-2.5 knots. Make sure that your bait is rigged straight and swims straight before you let it out the back to troll. Large hard bodied bibbed minnow style lures that dive to 5m+ will work on various occasions and you should aim to try these at dawn and dusk for best results.
The best areas to try trolling include those where birds are working, schools of fish feeding, pinnacles, bombies and dense bait schools showing up on the sounder. Like most species of fish early morning and late afternoon are the key ‘hot bite’ times. Spaniards love to feed well between sunup and mid morning when there is enough light for them to ambush bait readily.
· Halco Laser pro 190 DD 7m+
· Berkley Frenzy Mungo 6m+
· Live slimy mackerel, yakka, bonito, frigate mac tuna and wolf herring.
· Good quality frozen bonito, tailor, slimy mackerel, gar, pike and large pilchards.
Bait trolling rigs:
· TT Lures Bait trolling rig, 60g weight, 8/0 ganged hooks
· SureCatch Chin Guard 85g weight, 6/0 ganged hooks
Both should be rigged with a length of wire 30-90cm depending on personal preference.
The Hot Spots at the moment:
Sunshine and Halls Reefs, Currimundi, Old Women Island, the Gneerings and Caloundra's 5 Mile Reef.
Spanish mackerel are excellent fighting fish and really give the angler a run for their money. They feed close enough to the coastline making them are readily available to all anglers, whether you own a kayak or a big ocean-going vessel. With better fighting capabilities, dashing looks and those super-healthy Omega 3 oils present in their flesh - why wouldn’t you chase a Spaniard?
Andy Gunn likes trolling XL pilchards or XL slimy mackerel on a set of 4 gang hooks rigged with swivels in between the hooks, weighted with a size 2-4 ball sinker and a heavy mono trace when chasing Spanish mackerel off Caloundra.
Ed Vanderloy was floating large pilchards out around Old Women Island recently when he finally nailed this 18kg Spanish mackerel after multiple bite offs.
The Spanish mackerel are feeding down deep at the moment and this is why well weighted baits and deep diving lures are producing the most fish. Wilson Chin Guards are a weighted hook rig that will allow you to troll your bait at the depth that the fish are feeding.