Summer marks the start of the spotty mackerel season in SE Queensland, and the good news is because they frequent Moreton Bay and close in offshore reefs, you don’t need a large boat or expensive gear to target them.
It’s not uncommon to see small tinnies and even kayakers on the mackerel grounds when conditions are suitable.
A good way to fish for them is the two bob each way approach.
Anchor up and put one bait out rigged with a sinker so it is on or close to the bottom and the other suspended under a float so your bait is near the surface.
It is also a good idea to have a rod rigged with a lure close by so you can cast at a boiling school if they come within range.
Spotty mackerel have excellent eye sight and sharp teeth so although you will get more hook ups without a wire trace but you’ll get bitten off and loose a lot of fish without one.
For this reason, most anglers use a single Mustard Penetrator 2/0 hook, about 200mm of 15kg single strand wire and 8kg mainline.
You can use a gang of two hooks if you’re using a whole pilchard or larger bait.
The rig used for bait fishing is the same regardless if it is fished deep or under a float, just add a two to four ball sinker, depending on current, above the trace if you’re fishing without a float.
It is important to use as small a swivel as you can because when you do hook up to a spotty and it rips your line through the water, the swivel creates a bubble trail and other spotties will bite at the bubble trail and cut you off.
The universal bait for spotty mackerel is a whole small pilchard or half a large pilchard.
Live yellowtail or slimy mackerel will often catch the bigger fish and also tempt them when they are not feeding ravenously.
They will also take other baits including squid, fillets of fish like bonito or tailor but the humble pillie is easy and just as good as anything else you can throw at them.
In popular areas like Palm Beach Reef, choosing a location to anchor up is usually a case of finding a spot between all the other boats rather than being particular about the bottom structure.
If you can pick and choose a location, one of the keys to finding spotty mackerel is to find the bait schools, if you find the bait, the spotties will find you.
If you can’t find any concentrations of bait, look for small bumps, lumps and ledges on the bottom because the baitfish generally return and school up again around these formations.
Berley helps concentrate the bait around your boat which in turn keeps the spotties coming back.


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