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Summer Spotties on Plastics

Robbie Wells

With the summer northerlies in full swing, the first piscatorial pursuit I think of is our annual spotty mackerel run. There's nothing quite like approaching a mass of dive bombing gulls, terns and those crazy mutton birds. As you motor closer the surface is boiling and erupting in a mass of our summer speedsters, as they engulf every bit of whitebait that moves around them.

Even with five or six boats all looking for a piece of the action, the pleasure of everyone hooked up, young and old, experienced or novice, all rattling a few, is what fishing is about. It's also a great way to get them into some fishing with artificials.

Once the schools are located, no doubt the most popular, if not the most productive form of Spotty fishing, is using chromed metal slugs cast into the feeding frenzy and retrieved as fast as possible. Recently though I've been playing around with the ZMan 5" StreakZ in Pearl, Opening Night and Electric Chicken. I like the natural baitfish colors, but throw in a bit of chicken for some tuna or the odd kingy, as you never ever know what else is harassing those bait schools down deep.

We know the effectiveness of the 5" StreakZ when chasing tuna, but with the spotty mackerel the single most important thing is speed, speed, speed and of course making sure your plastic tracks straight. The TT HeadlockZ HD in a 5/0 is my go to jighead, it has a heavy duty hook that will handle just about anything and the extra bonus of slipping plastics being a thing of the past. As mentioned earlier speed is the essence, whether you are high speed retrieving on the surface or jigging off the bottom. I've been using a 4000 Shimano Stradic wound as fast as I can possibly wind it and unlike tuna, you can't tease the mackerel on a fast burn with a ZMan. If you slow down or pause, 9 out 10 times the mackerel will shy away and if jigging off the bottom the other disadvantage is that larger fish will engulf the whole lure resulting in the dreaded bite off!

Normal behavior with the spotty mackerel, once the baitfish have dispersed or been spooked, often by boat traffic, is for them to dive deep, so keep an eye on your sounder for potential shows. This is by far my personal favorite, if not most productive style of mackerel fishing using soft plastics. Drop a 5" StreakZ to the bottom and make sure you keep an eye on the line for any exaggerated movement in case something grabs it on the drop. Once you are on the bottom retrieve your placcy with a super-fast retrieve, pausing every second cast halfway through the water column. If there are mackerel around, then they can't resist it! You also seem to pick up a few larger spotties and a few Spanish that are harassing the outer edges of the bait schools, along with a good chance  of hooking up to a tuna or kingfish as bycatch.

They hit hard on the plastics jigged off the bottom and I normally run 30lb leader but if there is larger fish around or you are getting bite offs you may have to go to perhaps 50lb or even a small wire trace. I still try to persevere with the mono as the wire definitely decreases your hookup rate.

So when the school holidays roll around it's a great opportunity to grab a handful of plastics and mum, dad and the kids can go and rattle a few spotty mackerel for the morning. It's awesome fun and they are also not too bad on the chew.

How Goods Australia!

Robbie Wells

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