Getting amongst the mackies before the lockdown
The lockdown in some regions of WA was an untimely disruption for the lives of many people and that included metro boat fishers who were itching to head out and get amongst the metro run of Spanish mackerel.
In the days leading up to the lockdown the reports of metro Spaniards really gathered momentum and their arrival in numbers on the warm Leeuwin Current around this time each year is eagerly anticipated by many Perth offshore anglers.
With their aggressive nature and powerful runs when hooked, Spaniards are one of our most popular, and accessible, sport and table fish and are often a real feature of late summer fishing in Perth.
As the Fremantle Recreational Fishing Club noted on its Facebook page this week, its members were starting get amongst the mackies on a consistent basis before the lockdown.
There were reports of fish to 15 kilos caught in Cockburn Sound, near Rottnest Island and along the western edge of Three-Mile Reef, as well as not far from North Mole, while there was a shark mackerel from a Perth rockwall.
General consenus this season so far has been that trolled garfish have worked better than lures, and I know several anglers who believe Perth Spaniards are a lot more cautious than northern fish.
One keen metro Spaniard angler, Chris Jones, was getting out regularly before the lockdown and was starting to rack up some nice numbers of fish.
Speaking to Chris this week he offered a number of tips for anyone keen to try their hand at metro macks.
He reckons February is peak time and that they are more abundant and widespread than many realise, but is one of those who thinks they are very cautious in southern waters.
For that reason, he says to forget about northern techniques and don’t assume you need to be near reefy areas, as he’s found them on weed banks with trumpeter or butterfish in their stomachs.
Chris has caught them as shallow as 3-4m, but said the key was always to find concentrations of bait in water of more than 23C and “match the hatch”.
He said slightly windy conditions seemed better for both aggregating bait and making the fish less cagey.
Interestingly, Chris said he enjoys a lot more success on Perth mackies when not using wire because of the good water clarity and instead uses fluorocarbon leader of no more than 14kg.
I have personally always found first light to be the peak bite time for metro Spaniards and being on the water early is often crucial to success.
Hopefully the run continues because when the Spaniards turn up off Perth in numbers the action can be exciting and more reminiscent of what you might expect to find in the Pilbara around places like the Mackerel Islands, with a mate of mine surrounded by leaping mackies off Perth last March.
Some of the better spots to try include around Rottnest Island, the western edge of the Three-Mile, Coventry Reef and the Five-Fathom Bank.
Shore fishers can try their luck at Woodman Point or the North Mole, but expect to do plenty of casting!
Caption: Curtis Waterman picked up this metro Spaniard near Rottnest Island while trolling.