G’day, and welcome to my mackerel fishing column.

This week we focus on the winter season fish species – the Spanish mackerel.   To date we’ve had some extra large Spanish weighed into the ALLSTARS INSALT online fishing competition and we expect more across the next 3-months.

As the cooler months arrive in Central Queensland, so do the offshore breezes offering inshore coastal protection and glass out afternoon sessions allowing smaller vessels to venture up the protected coastlines in search Spanish mackerel as they migrate along the East coast.   School fish in the 8 to 15 kg size in big numbers and can be easily targeted.  Larger fish 20kgs and over aren’t as prevalent as they don’t seem to gather in as larger schools as the smaller fish.

There’s a heap of techniques to catch Mackerel, from live bait, dead bait and a multitude of lure selections from high speed hard bodies, slugs, stick baits, poppers, plastics, vibes and the list goes on.  Spanish are always enticed by speed, and as high speed reels made their way onto the market word soon got around and most serious fishermen included an outfit with a slug attached ready to go.  Now days there’s hardbody lures that troll at ridiculous speeds to entice the bite making for an exciting experience.  Let’s face it a Spanish bite is about as exciting as it gets.  Everyone’s seen YouTube footage of silver missiles leaping miles into the air and the blistering line peeling from the speed generated in their first run.

My recommendation is to experiment with all techniques, it’s a lot of fun and you’re guaranteed of learning something different with every technique and at the same time putting together a little more of the complex Spanish puzzle just like learning the art of Barramundi fishing.

There’s not much a Spanish won’t eat.  If I was to list the species they consume I’d run out of words for this column.    If you’re in Spanish country and float out a livey of pretty much any species you’re a good chance.  However, my favourite style is dead bait trolling.  Larger fish are more likely to be caught using a natural bait as opposed to artificial lures, especially in the heavily fished waters simply because fish have evolved and become smarter after seeing or feeling imitation lures over time.  I’ve trolled many dead bait species with success, so give it a go, it will amaze you what they eat.  All that’s required is a set of gang hooks with a weighted chin, a wire trace and a bit of tie wire. A quick search on YouTube on how to troll dead baits and you’ll find an awesome tutorial by a pro Spanish fisherman by the name of Peter Stephens.  A must view.

Spinning baits aren’t effective.  So if you’ve learnt from the tutorial the baits will swim ok with a bit of fine tuning, and your outfit is 50lb or bigger with at least 300 meters of line. 

A few of the go-to dead baits are garfish, wolf herring, bonito, school and spotted mackerel.  The best part about these species is they are mega fun to catch and kids absolutely love this active style of fishing.  It is a great way to involve the whole family in fishing so I’ll talk more about catching bait next column.

After a full day on the water collecting troll baits with the family, you’ll have enough baits in the freezer (nicely wrapped in glad wrap to prevent freezer burn and drying out) ready for a Spanish session.  Pick your local tackle shop’s brains for known Spanish hot spots in your area or target the exposed coastline rocky headlands and islands.  Look for clear water, bommies and current lines.  A quality sounder properly tuned in will not only show Spanish but bait gatherings as well.

Slow trolling is the key. Spanish bite the tail off their prey first and come back for the rest of the immobilised fish.  Watch your rod tip constantly and up the revs when the rod buckles on the first bite.  Once hooked the first run will be the longest run.  Maintain constant pressure and fight the fish 45 degrees to the stern.  You’ll be doing a few circles to keep the fish in this position.  Take your time to tire the fish because you don’t want a green fish thrashing around on your gaff or in your boat.  Gaff the fish in the head area and ensure everybody’s out of the way of the razor sharp teeth when the fish hits the deck.  A fish donga or brain spiking tool is next to quickly kill the fish.  Be careful of the sharp teeth removing the hooks with pliers. Bleed the fish by cutting around the gill area and put the fish on ice.  If you’re unfamiliar how to fillet a Spanish once again jump on YouTube for a tutorial, there’s plenty of information there.

Hopefully I’ve shared enough of my tips to entice you to chase the fast paced Spanish.  Time on the water is the key to success.  Also please remember Queensland Fisheries Department size and bag limits.  If you find these rules difficult to locate; then just jump on our ALLSTARS website; because we have quick links by fish species for you to click on and get the information fast.

Next column I’m going to talk about how to catch the bait fish to attract a Spanish and some cooking suggestions.

As much as I like to write about fishing, I’d also like to hear from you.  So please email me at info@allstarsinsalt.com.au to share your fishing trips, fishing tips, fishing stories and photos.

A day on the water is better than a day at work.

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