The Mackerel Family meets the Halco Family
Other Names:King Mackerel, Tanguique, Spanish or Spaniard
Mackerel are almost perfect predators- fast, sleek and equipped with razor sharp teeth capable of effortlessly slicing through prey…in short, a baitfish’s worst nightmare. Catching a mackerel is always an exciting prospect and that same speed that it uses to run down prey can empty a spool in frighteningly short time.
The king of the clan is the narrow-barred Spanish mackerel, commonly referred to as a “Spaniard”. This fish that can grow to over 60kg but is most often caught in the 8-12kg range. Lesser members of the family include Broad-Barred Spanish Mackerel, Australian Spotted Mackerel, Queensland School Mackerel and Shark Mackerel or “Sharkies” as they are affectionately known. And finally the quickest of them all, the mighty Wahoo, is a close enough relative to be considered a member of the family as well.
Regardless of type, mackerel are suckers for lures, either cast from the rocks or trolled behind a boat. Different situations call for a variety of techniques and lures and Halco has every base covered.
By far the biggest percentage of Spaniards are caught by trolling along drop-offs in 12-30m of water. Laser Pro 190s or 160s are the go-to lures for general trolling using medium to heavy weight gear. Most opt to troll at around 5-6Kts and run a selection of colours to see what is hot on a particular day. One day a Chrome Pink pattern will get all the attention, and the next it might be a high contrast like the White Redhead or one of the more subdued patterns like yellowfin or pilchard. It’s not always easy to predict and it pays to have a selection of colours on hand. If in doubt when first choosing the lure to put out, the old adage of “Bright days, bright lures. Dull days, dull lures” is as good a place to start as any.
It’s a similar story with lure depth. Deep diving 160s or 190s, designed to run at around 2m down, will usually be the first to be tried, but if the fish are deep a 6-7m Crazy Deep model will get down to where the action is. Conversely, if the fish are right up on top, try a standard model that runs just 1m down.
For even more fun when the fish are on top and feeding, cast a Roosta Popper, Skim Stick or C-Gar into the commotion and retrieve it across the surface. You won’t believe your eyes as you watch the lure getting nailed from below by a Spaniard that goes on to soar several metres into the air with the lure in its mouth.
Light tackle trollers have taken to the new Laser Pro 140 lure with enthusiasm but even so it’s pretty hard to go past the tried and true RMG Scorpion 125 which can be comfortably trolled on tackle as light as 4kg. This lure has long been a secret weapon when it comes to catching members of the mackerel family and has been responsible for winning light tackle sport and game fishing tournaments countless times over the years.
But if you haven’t found the fish yet and need to cover a bit of ground in a hurry, there are high speed lures in the Halco range that will keep you in the game even while you are just looking. The streamlined design of the Max lure allows you to troll it at speeds up to 12 Kts and the mackerel love it. As an added bonus, when you stop and there are fish buzzing around under the hull, drop the Max down and start jigging. You never know what might smash it.
Sharkies are the second most prolific of the mackerel family in Australian waters and are generally found a little closer in than the Spaniards. They are taken in the same ways as Spaniards but offer more opportunities for those who enjoy casting 30g Twisty lures at surface commotion.
It’s a similar story with Spotted and School mackerel, while Wahoo are more often found out wide in deep blue water. They all love Laser Pros and many a big wahoo has been caught on a Giant Trembler trolled at speed.
For those stuck on shore there are several lures in the Halco stable that perform exceptionally well on mackerel from the rocks. When long casts are needed the 80g Max 130 comes into its own on medium/heavy casting gear. It is best suited to a fast retrieve or being ripped up from down deep. At 40g the C-Gar suits medium weight gear really well and casts a mile. It can be retrieved across the top with less splash than a popper or worked sub-surface like a wounded baitfish. Few surface predators, including mackerel, can resist them.
For close-to-the-rocks work, especially with light to medium gear, the 3m Scorpion 125 takes some beating on Spaniards and Sharkies.