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Fishing Report: Trolling for Mackerel 04/02/2010


Despite all the rough weather and cyclonic winds experienced in the past week (with thanks to a feisty little lady named Olga), the reports are still coming in thick and fast that the mackerel are in excellent numbers.  Now whether you've braved the seas, hung on for dear life off the rocks at Noosa or Pt Carty, or managed to jag a disoriented spotty who deviated off course into the river, the feeling is the same for all anglers - hear racing excitement followed by absolute glee.  Not many of you may have considered the even better rush that comes from trolling for these fast, furious fighters.

The Sunshine Coast has many inshore pelagics on offer in the late summer and early winter months, but none that I like more than mackerel! Anyone who enjoys dragging lures or baits behind the boat would be mad to not have a go at a spanish or spotty mackerel at this time of year.

Trolling itself looks like an easy and basic technique that any mug could pull off, but as with most things, it takes some skill and precision.  Location and timing are important; dawn and early morning as the sun approaches a 45degree angle are best.  Look for a moving current, or contour lines on your GPS for a starting point and them work with the current.  If you can locate a small baitfish school on the sounder - stick with them also, moving at a walking pace speed (1-3 knots).

As far as tackle is concerned, begin by fishing weighted and unweighted rigs initially until you find where the fish are feeding and what depth of water they are also in.  Medium weight outfits are the most dependable and efficient tools of the trade; 10-15kg rods rigged with any smooth, quick releasing drag overhead.  It is best to have a chat to your mates who have been trolling for mackerel before or pop into your local tackle store and find an outfit right for you.

Spool your reel with 80Lb monofilament, Australian Made Surecatch has been tried and tested many times by yours truely.  Some locals prefer to go down the braid line and swear by it, but I find with trolling; monofilament has greater stretch and elasticity which copes better with the speed and impact of a mackerel strike. Some extra careful anglers also attach up to 3m of 100lb mono on the end as a leader, this then attaches nicely to the swivel.  Mason single-strand #5 or #6 leader wire is another option.

Terminal tackle is just as important as the outfit and can make the difference between landing and losing a fish.  Mustad 4200 hooks in 6/0 ganged in threes coupled with #6 rolling swivels/snap swivel and #2 ball sinkers will get you out of trouble.  This combination can be set up a number of ways; if you want to troll deep – use the gang with a single strand of wire, a couple of #2 ball sinkers and the rolling swivel to allow the bait or lure to dive somewhat.  If you want your bait to sit on the surface then drop off the ball sinkers and go unweighted.  If fishing in large schools of snapping mackerel you must use wire as they work together to sabotage your line, if fish are scarce then use only mono as a leader and little weight to enjoy the experience more.

What lure do you use? Good question!  With so many lures on the market, you really have to stick to your guns and get exactly what you need for mackerel and not deviate as it will only cost you.  Hard bodied minnows are the stand-outs for mackerel with bibs or bib-less options working well.  Halco and Berkely are tried, tested and proven.  In bibbed lures the Halco Laser Pro 120-190 are great for mackerel.  There are over a dozen colours but anything with bling – golds and silvers are highly commended.

The Berkley Frenzy Mungo baits are also sought after by eager anglers in every tackle store.  They are big and tough with a killer action and a high quality realistic finish. Fitted with heavy duty hardware Mungo’s mean business. 14-18cm Mungo’s come in a suspending shallow runner (dives to 2.4m) and a floating deep diver (dives to 4.2m). An awesome lure for mackerel!

Moving your lure is important in targeting pelagic fish such a mackerel, trolling two, three or even four lures at once is a good way to go. The terminology "spread or pattern" is used to describe the formation in how you set your lures behind the boat. Don't put lures out too far behind the boat, troll at least one of your lures right in the wash of the boat's motor; you will be pleasantly surprised how often fish come right to the transom of a boat to take a lure. Put the other lures out staggered back from there.


Noosa: Trevally and tailor between the bar and Munna Point. Plenty of Jacks in between the lakes.   Flathead and whiting at the top end of the frying pan. Mud crabs in Weyba Creek and in the canals.

Maroochy: Spotty mackerel to 3.9kg from Old Women Island yesterday morning. Tarwhine to 40cm and dart on live worms along North Shore. Flathead to 55cm off Chambers Island and to 65 in Petrie Creek. Plenty of average bream and a 8.5kg jew in the cod hole. Mud crabs in the canal and along the wetland stretch.

Kawana: Spotty and Spanish mackerel around the Gneerings. Dart to 45cm, bream and Tarwhine in the wash at Kawana. Trevally and bream throughout the lower river. Bream and cod off the rock walls. Mud crabs in the Mountain Creek Reach.

Caloundra:  Flathead and bream off the Boardwalk. Trevally on the dirty water mark on the making tide. Whiting along golden beach. Spotty mackerel on trolled gar from the 12 mile.




Paul Anderson trolls a 4 gang hook rigged pilchard slowly behind his kayak out off Coolum for his big spaniards

and find that mono rig is far more productive with big fish rather than wire.


Peter Williams was floating pilchards at North Reef off Noosa when this 9kg spaniard decided it was hungry.


Chris Lacey is a man that loves lure fishing for Mackerel. Fish like this 7kg speciem love big deep divers like the Halco laser pro trolld at 5-6knots.


Halco Lazer Pro 120 and Berkley Frenzy Mungo Bait lures are the bees knees when it comes to mackerel lures!


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