With some warm to hot days and the blue 24 degree water trickling down from QLD many a Mid North Coast (MNC) angler will be turning their minds to the run of Spanish and Spotted Mackerel. These fish will soon be decimating the local baitfish populations whilst sending fisho’s into a howling ratchet frenzy!
Here are a few tips, hints & tricks to help you get amongst the action;
1/ Vary your approach! The fish will be there, you just need to trigger the bite… Troll live baits, troll big dead baits, troll hard bodied lures, throw slugs and slices, throw stickbaits and poppers, even drop deep water jigs… They all work and on any given day one method will prevail over the rest.
2/ Work hard to have fresh bait. When the razor gang does arrive the bait becomes scarce (for obvious reasons) so you’ll need to get out before the mackerel commence their early morning feed to give yourself the best chance of filling your bait tank. Slimy Mackerel are the pick of the easy to keep alive baits, with Bonito and Mack Tuna being even better should you have the equipment required to keep them alive! If you are having great trouble gathering baits try flicking the washes for tailor. They’re a hardy bait and the Spaniards love them!
3/ Try not to fish too heavy. 15kg gear is probably too heavy, whilst 5kg is bordering too light, 10kg is pretty much perfect and will handle most of the fish you’re likely to encounter.
4/ Fish smart! When the macks are on they’ll feed pretty freely, but when they’re not they’ll only feed on the best presented baits, dead or alive. This means using hooks that aren’t too large (4/O to 6/O) and wire that’s not too heavy (45lb to 69lb), you’ll be bitten off through the wire from time to time, but that’s part of the game don’t let it bother you too much, just tie another rig on and go again. Fish light to medium drag settings too, they’re not going to reef you so there’s no need to apply too much pressure.
5/ Present perfect baits. Getting the hooks to lay straight and flat on the baits back will increase your strike rate!
6/ Find the fish, use your electronics to your advantage and sound out the fish. Or if they’re taking baits off your bait jigs then concentrate your efforts at the bait ground when everyone else has left.
7/ Try to fish unfished water if you can and spread out from each other. Also when arriving at a spot that you might like to fish please be aware of other boats and the methods that they’re using. If they’re trolling be mindful of their troll pattern and the baits out the back of their boat, there’s nothing worse than having your hard earned baits ran over or the clear undisturbed water that you’re aiming to present your baits through being chopped up by another boat.
8/ Downriggers can set you back $1,000 for the electric, $500 for the manual or $50 for the vb cord, a weight and a rubber band. Setting your baits deeper can be the difference between an empty box and smoked macks for dinner.
9/ Ice. Your macks must be iced down, preferably in an ice box long enough to keep the fish straight and fully submerged in an ice slurry. A few ciguatera cases have been reported when macks have been kept cool by the sun for a day.
10/ Fillet, Release and Drive Away. Both species of mack referred to in these tips, hints and tricks do not release well, they’re often exhausted after the fight and will sink to the bottom and die on release. Therefore it’s important to gauge when you’ve caught enough to consume fresh and then move away from the school.
It’s a cracking time of year to be an angler on the MNC YEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW! Ps there’ll be some BIG reds lurking below all the surface action.
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Name: Shaun "NEB" Cameron. Born: Coffs Harbour NSW 1999. NRL Team: Gold Coast Titans. Favourite Species: Pagrus Auratus - Snapper & Muddies aka Mud Crabs. Blurb; Hi, Shaun Cameron here. I'm a frother on all things oceanic and photography. There's...