Mackerel, Yellowtail

(Trachurus declivis)

Commonly referred to as Yakas!

Also known as Jack mackerel the yellow tail mackerel is one of the most prevalent bait sources on the planet and is closely related to their larger cousin the scad. They are an extremely robust species, this allows them great strength when swimming as live baits both on the surface and at depth. Yellow tail mackerel make great live and dead baits for a variety of pelagic species from yellow tail king fish to yellow fin tuna!


Yellow tail mackerel can be located from as far west as Shark Bay W.A. right around the bottom of the country and up to northern N.S.W. throughout Australia.


Yellow tail 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 25cm in length and weigh as much as 150 grams although most yellow tail encountered throughout Australia average around 100 grams.


Yellow tail 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.


Yellow tail mackerel can be easily identified by their bright yellow fins and dark spot situated under the pectoral fin of the species. They also have a distinct set of tail flukes that are not unlike that of some trevally species.

Taste rating

  • Twenty Taste Rating

Yellow tail mackerel make excellent bait!

Sport rating

  • Forty Sport Rating

Yellow tail mackerel are easily managed on even the lightest of tackle.

Tackle requirements

Ultra light spin and fly combos are ideally suited to targeting yakas 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.

Recommended baits, lures and rigs

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. Bait chaser rigs are ideal for targeting most bait fish species including yakas.

Handy hints and tips

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.

Preferred fishing times and tides

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 yellow tail mackerel.


[What The Fish]