Commonly referred to as Spaniards!
The narrow barred Spanish mackerel is a fast moving pelagic sport fish that frequents tropical, inshore reef systems throughout the northern half of the country. Spaniards are a great tasting sport fish that are often seen free jumping to incredible heights of over thirty feet or more. They are famous for their blistering first runs and razor sharp teeth making the Spanish mackerel one of Australia’s premier sport fish species!
Spanish mackerel can be located from as far south as Rottenest Island right up to the magnificent Kimberley region throughout Western Australia and also from northern N.S.W. right up through Queensland and into the Northern Territory.
Spanish mackerel grow to around 50kg in weight and reach a maximum length of around 2 meters although a typical size Spaniard is around 8 – 12kg in most locations and anything over 25kg is considered to be large. Larger Spanish mackerel seem to stop growing length ways at around 25kg and become much thicker throughout the body to form a shape similar to that of a dog tooth tuna and are a truly awesome fish to witness!
Spanish 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 as well as strong currents and white turbulent water to chase them in.
Spanish mackerel are easily identified by their typical mackerel shape which is long and torpedo shaped with dark striping extending down from the top of the flanks towards the belly. They are typically green to blue in colouration with silver to white under bellies. Spanish mackerel have razor sharp teeth that are famous for injuring anglers even when the fish is dead! There is another species of mackerel similar in appearance to the Spanish or narrow barred and that is the broad barred mackerel. These two mackerel look very similar when small but can be easily identified by the anal and second dorsal fins of the species. Narrow barred, Spanish mackerel have much smaller anal and second dorsal fins and predominant dark tiger stripes down the flanks where as broad barred mackerel have unusually large second dorsal and anal fins and no dark prominent striping present.
Spanish mackerel are superb eating especially when cut into thin cutlets and cooked simply on the BBQ!
Spanish mackerel are great sport on light to medium tackle and are relatively clean fighters.
Light to medium fly, spin or overhead tackle is well suited to targeting Spaniards from shore or boat with light to medium strength braided, gel spun or nylon lines with a breaking strain of 20 – 30lb proving ideal. 60 – 100lb 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 69 – 100lb single strand wire traces should then be attached to the nylon leader to prevent bite offs.
Whole dead and live baits such as garfish, mullet and pilchards or scaly mackerel are best suited for targeting Spaniard’s as are most metal slices, trolling lures, flys, surface lures and metal jigs. Bait casting rigs made from light, single strand wire are ideal for most Spanish mackerel bait fishing situations.
Keep your fingers and toes away from the nose of a Spaniard at all times!
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 spanish mackerel.