2022 Seafari to the Mackerel Islands offered a timely insight into some of the other angling options
With fishing for demersals an extremely contentious issue right around WA at the moment, our recent Seafari to the Mackerel Islands offered a timely insight into some of the other angling options we are lucky to have.
Although I am a died-in-the-wool lure caster, I actually invested in a new Simrad Evo NSS9 sounder and matching transducer before the trip, with the intention of heading out wider than usual to chase some prized bottom fish.
With two weeks based at Thevenard Island for the Seafari, I figured there would be plenty of time to go looking for demersals such as red emperor, rankin cod and coral trout to keep for a feed.
However, such was the quality of the pelagic and shallow-water action during our stay that I only ventured beyond a depth of 20m twice, and each time that was just to target Spanish mackerel.
I couldn’t tear myself away from the sportfishing action and from the first day to the last we enjoyed a series of incredible sessions, mainly casting at surface activity in water only a few metres deep.
We saw big schools of metre-plus queenfish cruising the shallows, and had a ball chasing schools of smallish shark mackerel hammering bait.
We found big goldspot trevally with backs out of the water destroying baitballs, along with mack tuna and more sharkies, and I discovered that big golden trevally were sitting under the sharkie bust ups.
On several occasions we were able to cast at trevally that were hoovering through patches of floating weed. Fishing around shallow bommies produced some solid spangled emperor and we had great fun casting lures while drifting on some of the mackie patches.
I even had coral trout with their backs out of the water chasing stickbaits in the shallows one day, showing that you don’t necessarily need to go deep to find quality eating fish.
While for most people a trip north to a spot like Thevenard Island is about catching some quality eating fish, quite a few of the groups on the Seafari did end up sampling this sportfishing action during their stay and it just goes to show there are other aspects to WA boat fishing waiting to be enjoyed.
Although not many places can boast the quality of sportfishing action of the Mackerel Islands, there are also plenty of options elsewhere in the State for those who love offshore fishing and are struggling with what to do if they find their demersal fishing options cut dramatically.
On the south coast there are samson fish, yellowtail kingfish, southern bluefin tuna, bonito and, of course, salmon that while they might not be as highly regarded a table fish, are a lot of fun to catch in their own right, and there’s always a quality feed of king george whiting or squid.
Along the west coast, there are dolphinfish during summer, along with more samson fish, kings, KGs and squid.
There has been plenty of metro Spaniards caught in recent years and while many people turn their noses up at mackies, I reckon they taste great and my family enjoys the fillets I bring back from the Mackerel Islands each year.
There’s also been a resurgence of metro yellowfin tuna in the last couple of years and even a few wahoo have shown up.
As you head north, the pelagic options only increase with even more mackies and tuna, powerful giant trevally, various other species of trevally, queenfish, cobia, giant herring, billfish and many more oceanic wanderers.
You can enjoy catching and releasing these species as long as you handle them carefully, or even take a few home for the table with the likes of dollies, cobia, tuna and wahoo certainly making good eating.
Some people tend to get the blinkers about bottom fishing and catching quality demersals for the table, but it’s a good time to broaden the horizons and enjoy the many more aspects of WA fishing on offer.