Commonly referred to as Blue macks!
The blue mackerel is one of the most prevalent bait sources on the planet and is second only to the ever plentiful sardine or pilchard when it comes to sheer numbers. They are an extremely blood rich species, this allows them great strength when swimming as live baits and is also helpful for attracting predators when cut into pieces. They are by far the most preferred live bait for many highly sought after species including bill fish!
Blue mackerel can be located from as far south as Albany up to Shark Bay throughout Western Australia and are also found right across the bottom end of the country up to northern N.S.W.
Blue mackerel are a fast growing species that alternates in numbers over various years with some years proving plentiful and others fairly lean. They can grow as large as 60cm in length and weigh as much as 1kg although most blue macks encountered around Australia average around 200 grams.
Blue mackerel prefer shallow bays, harbours and estuary systems with large areas of healthy seed weed beds as well as sheltered sandy bays with heavy cover near by. Water depths of 1 – 15 meters are most suitable.
Blue mackerel can be easily identified by their torpedo shaped bodies which are blue to green in colouration across the upper back leading down to a silver belly. Black tiger stripes are also present across the back of the fish as are small sickle fins extending from the rear of the anal and pectoral fins down towards the tail.
Blue mackerel make excellent bait!
Blue mackerel are spirited little fighters and possess a very high blood content similar to that of a tuna making them a worthy angling opponent on ultra light tackle.
Ultra light spin and fly combos are ideally suited to targeting blue macks both from shore or from boat with braided, gel spun and nylon lines with a breaking strain of around 2 – 3kg proving ideal. Light 2 – 3kg nylon or fluoro carbon leaders of around one rod length help to prevent the fish from seeing brightly coloured lines when fish are being fussy during calm, clear conditions.
Small cut pieces of peeled prawn or fresh fish as well as live maggots are sensational baits for catching most small bait fish with very small soft plastic and metal lures and fly’s also proving to be both successful and fun at times.
Using powdered or pellet berley with fish oils added will not only help to attract bait fish into your fishing area but also keep them there! An old rag doused in fish oil will also work well in most bait fishing situations.
Rising or full tides are best suited for targeting bait fish around most areas although some deep water locations will also produce good numbers during low and falling tides. New moon phases are also preferable for most bait fish species including blue mackerel.