Mackerel, Shark

(Grammatorcynus bicarinatus)

Commonly referred to as Sharkies!

The shark mackerel is a tropical, pelagic species that terrorises shallow reef areas in search of small bait fish to devour. They are absolute suckers for white lead head jigs as are most northern and southern species. Sharkies are famous for the spectacular show of colour across their backs upon capture. This colouration resembles a camouflage pattern of bright gold, green and blue. Their name comes from the strong ammonia smell emitted by the fish when cleaned. This deters most people from eating the species although once skinned and cooked the flesh is delicious and very similar to that of the Spanish mackerel!


Shark mackerel can be located from as far south as Rottenest Island right up to the magnificent Kimberley region throughout Western Australia and also from Queensland up into the Northern Territory.


Shark mackerel grow to around 12.4kg in weight and reach a maximum length of around 175cm although a typical size Sharkie is around 3 – 6kg in most Australian locations. The AAA state record of 12.4kg was landed in 7 meters of water travelling over the Stragglers reefs at 19 knots with a high speed chrome jet, skirted lure and 30lb braided line with 100lb nylon leader.


Shark mackerel prefer both inshore and off shore reef systems and rocky headlands with water depths ranging from 10 – 50 meters. They also prefer these areas to have large numbers of bait fish and white turbulent water to chase them in.


Shark mackerel are easily identified by their sharp, pointed head and small mouth full of razor sharp teeth. They are often green to gold in colouration with bright yellow tails which later fade with death. Sharkies are famous for the show of colour they produce across their backs which is very holographic like in appearance.

Taste rating

  • Seventy Taste Rating

Shark mackerel are fine eating and the strange smell of ammonia is not present in the flesh once cooked. Many an angler has been fooled into thinking shark mackerel was Spanish mackerel on the BBQ!

Sport rating

  • Seventy Sport Rating

Shark mackerel are great sport on light spin and fly tackle and are relatively clean fighters.

Tackle requirements

Light to medium fly, spin or overhead tackle is well suited to targeting sharkies from shore or  boat with light to medium strength braided, gel spun or nylon lines with a breaking strain of 10 – 30lb proving ideal. 40 – 60lb nylon leaders should be attached to bright braided or gel spun lines to prevent fish from seeing the line and also to help prevent chafe offs on rough structures. Short 69lb single strand wire traces should then be attached to the nylon leader to prevent bite offs.

Recommended baits, lures and rigs

Whole dead and live baits such as small bait fish and squid are best suited for targeting shark mackerel as are most metal slices, trolling lures, flys, surface and sub surface lures and soft plastics. Shark mackerel do seem to have a serious liking for green and gold lures possibly due to their resemblance to the small bait fish these speedy pelagics often feed upon. Bait casting rigs made from light, single strand wire are ideal for most mackerel fishing situations.

Handy hints and tips

White lead head jigs are also one of the most preferred shark mackerel lures around and are not only cheap to purchase but also incredibly effective on a large variety of both southern and northern species.

Preferred fishing times and tides

Rising or full tides are best suited for targeting most fish species around most areas although some deep water locations will also produce good numbers of fish during low and falling tides. New moon phases are also preferable for most fish species including  shallow water pelagic’s such as shark mackerel.


[What The Fish]