Live Baiting For Spanish Mackerel
This is the best way to catch Spanish Mackerel when you’re not really trying, great for when you’re sitting at anchor and have bit of a reef fish or just relaxing around the islands. Most areas, will have some Mackerel of some kind cruising around, and who know’s what else such as big Cobia, Cod, and even Monster Bluespot Coral Trout.
Spanish Mackerel love live bait, and obviously there’s nothing fresher than a live fish in distress swimming about under a balloon, or free swimming. We find Fusiliers, Stripies, small trevally, and most decent size fish are well worth putting out. Make sure even your livebaits are of a legal size.
There’s absolutely millions of Red Bellied Fusiliers on the Great Barrier Reef, but they have a size limit of 25cm and even a bag limit now. Great for bait, even flesh bait, but very mushy once frozen and not worth taking for a feed anyhow. Life’s tough when spoilt with Coral Trout, Red Emperor, Nannygai!!
But under a balloon and Spanish Mackerel can’t help themselves to an easy feed of Fusilier.
Give yourself a good metre of 100 – 150 lb single strand wire, a big 9/0 hook, onto a 2 metre mono leader (100 lb or so) tied onto a double of your main line.
Depending what you’re up to 50lb line is sufficient and will land most fish easily, 30lb is a heap more sport, or go down to 12lb if you’re keen for a good battle, and a lot of lost fish.
Position your live bait about 30 feet below a balloon, and let him go with the current, or vary the size of the balloon depending on the amount of wind, which can blow your bait well clear of the boat and your other fishing lines.
I mainly only use one hook, then let the mackerel run and give him chance to get the bait down and hooked well. Some people will use a stinger hook in the tail, but can kill some of your not so hardy fish. Stripies are great livebait, swim all day and don’t complain at all. Don’t be scared to put a good size fish on, although you do hook some unstoppables.
Another great technique of mind, (secret stuff this one) is to drift a productive area, you’ve worked it with lures or baits, but produced no goods.
Nothing like slow drifting through the strike zone with a free swimming bait. Try and stagger a couple of baits, one on the surface, and the other one doing it’s own thing, clear of the bottom. Any Spanish Mackerel about will home in fast, and bent rods will usually result.
Other Techniques to help bring the fish to you is Berley, the extra effort usually results in other fish feeding, bait, smaller mackerel, trevally coming up the berley trail, in turn causing some excitement which a Spanish Mackerel will always come in and check out. Have a lovely livebait, sitting in the trail and it’s all too easy, give it a go next time.
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