Tuna, Mackerel

 (Euthynnus affinis)

Commonly referred to as Mack tuna or Kawa, Kawa!

The Mackerel tuna is a species of smaller tuna that has gained the reputation of being a feisty little rough sea battler with poor table qualities. They are commonly encountered by anglers trolling skirted lures and make for great sport when hooked on ultra light line classes. Mack tuna are full of blood and it is said that if they grew to larger sizes would be practically unstoppable due to their incredible stamina. They are also referred to as Kawa, Kawa tuna which is a naming that has descended from Hawaiian customs. Tuna are the only species of fish in our entire oceans that are designed to produce perpetual motion from birth until death. As long as their hearts are beating so are their tails! All tuna species need to swim at least 3 times their body length per second to survive.


Mack tuna can be encountered in W.A. waters from the Shark Bay region northwards around the top end and down through Queensland and into N.S.W. They prefer water depths of around 20 – 120 meters.


Mack tuna can grow to around  15kg in weight and measure around one meter in length although most mack tuna encountered throughout the northern half of Australia average around   6kgs.


Mack tuna prefer warmer, northern waters and are most commonly encountered feeding along the edge of current lines, bait schools and deep reef ledges. Smaller fish can also be found in shallow bays with large numbers of bait fish present.


Mack tuna can be easily recognised by the distinctive mackerel pattern located on the shoulder of the fish. They also have three to five small, black spots present below the pectoral fin.

Taste rating

  • Thirty Taste Rating

Mack tuna are better recognised for their exceptional sporting abilities rather than their eating qualities.

Sport rating

  • Eighty Sport Rating

Mack tuna are a fantastic small game fish species that will test most anglers on light tackle and fly!

Tackle requirements

Ultra light lever drag trolling outfits or spinning combos are best suited for targeting small tuna in most situations. Rods and reels capable of holding large capacities of  2 – 6kg line are most commonly used and are attached to wind on leaders of around 60 – 100lb in breaking strain. When trolling skirted lures for smallish tuna try running small chromed, jet head styled lures at boat speeds of around 9 – 12 knots.  Larger fish respond better to trolling or deep water live baiting or cubing techniques and require heavier stand up tackle in the 10 – 15kg range.

Recommended baits, lures and rigs

Live and fresh dead baits such as gar fish, small mullet, flying fish, pilchards and mackerel are all ideal baits for targeting most tuna species, with small to medium jet head or resin head, skirted lures also proving to be quite effective on most pelagic species including tuna. Mackerel tuna are a fantastic species to cast lures such as metal slices and surface lures into with the visual aspect of this technique proving to be very hard to beat!

Handy hints and tips

Try to ensure all baits, lures and tackle used are of premium quality, there are no second chances when it comes to tangling with smart, fussy tuna! Quite often the faster and more determined mack tuna will beat other northern tuna species to lure offerings. Casting at long tails and hooking Mack tuna is not uncommon at all!

Preferred fishing times and tides

Most pelagic game fish species including tuna prefer low or high tide changes and new moon phases.


[What The Fish]