School mackerel tips
A fat broad-bar mackerel caught when Jamie was targeting school mackerel.

School mackerel tips

I hope everyone is doing the best they can after the inclement weather. School mackerel tips

It has been a rough start to the year for southeast Queensland and parts of NSW. School mackerel tips

Good to see people banding together to get things done in times of need. School mackerel tips

I hope Mother Nature has sorted herself out and we can settle back into life again.

The fishing has tried to sort itself out, though I won’t be fishing in close very often in early March with the dirty water running.

I expect there should still be a few tuna and trusty mackerel to keep us entertained.

Frequently, people who see us at harbour ask about school mackerel or schoolies.

Many don’t realise there is a difference between the spotted and the school species.

They presume we are catching all mackerel under birds, and that simply is not the case.

Catching school mackerel is quite simple really.

The easiest method is trolling.

School mackerel tips
A nice queenfish for Clint.

School mackerel are often found near structure and bait.

Choose a lure you can troll deep.

You will be surprised how big a lure they will eat.

You can also try small lures on paravanes or downriggers, but a plain old deep diver from 10-15cm will do the job.

Though make sure you find fish first.

I prefer to spin lures – usually metal and often very cheap ones.

Some jigging can be effective, but an erratic retrieve will often result in many bite offs.

Erratic jigging styles retrieves will cause schoolies to miss the lure, often ending in a cut leader.

Lure loss can be bad enough, even with a fast and constant retrieve.

School mackerel tips
A golden trevally caught by Paul as by-catch when spinning for school mackerel.

School mackerel attack with swipes and lunges, often as a group, which exacerbates the lure loss rate.

You may also find you’re foul hooking them too – another sign they are swiping at the lures.

This system can catch other species as well.

Again, make sure the fish are present before you invest too much time trying to catch them.

And also make sure you are in the strike zone.

Catching other fish among school mackerel is one of the many reasons I enjoy targeting them.

So many days are started or saved by mackerel, and occasionally a few other species join in.

Similarly, they might eat a fast lure, but they might also prefer a different approach.

You simply have to work through the styles to see what’s working best.

And you might end up putting that exclamation mark on the day without travelling any further or doing anything too differently.

Doing the basics correctly and learning how to interpret the electronics are a big part of it.


If you’d like to book a charter with Tri, visit the Fraser Guided Fishing Facebook page or website.

About Tri Ton

Visit Tri's Fraser Guided Fishing Facebook page @ or give him a call on 0427 230 261 to book a charter.

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