Scott’s Species – shark mackerel, a slashing surface speedster

In the latest edition of Scott’s Species, Western Angler editor Scott Coghlan discusses shark mackerel. The speedsters don’t get as big as Spanish mackerel, however, sharkies are a great sportfish in their own right and offer some thrilling fishing in WA!

Species: Shark mackerel, Grammatorcynus bicarinatus

Eating: 3 stars

ID: Two lateral lines. Often an olive or gold colouration on the flanks, with spots on the belly.

This sharkie smashed Glenn Edwards’ lure at the Mackerel Islands. Picture: Western Angler

Shark mackerel often move in large schools, meaning that the action is hectic when they turn up, with multiple fish hooked at the same time, and will come into very shallow water.

There is no better example of this than at Quobba, where they often show up in huge numbers at the start of summer.

The Quobba sharkie run is famous with shore-based anglers who enjoy high-speed spinning.

Huge numbers are hooked at platforms like Garth’s, Camp Rock, Caves and Two-Mile, and fly fishing for them is also an option.

When schools of sharkies are around and chasing bait, they can be quite easily identified even if you can’t see the fish.

They will slash through the surface with great speed, not jumping like tuna.

Anyone who has moored at Dirk Hartog Island’s Turtle Bay will have seen the local sharkies chasing bait late afternoon.

Their first run when hooked is dynamic and scorching, but they usually lack stamina.

A trip to Dirk Hartog produced many shark mackerel for Scott Coghlan. Picture: Western Angler

Found from Albany (at times) right up the coast, they grow to more than 1m in length and 14kg. A fish around 10kg is a memorable one, but most will be from 4kg to 6kg.

Every year some good fish get caught around Perth by anglers chasing Spaniards.

Many anglers avoid eating shark mackerel as they have a strong ammonia smell when cleaned, similar to sharks and hence how they got their name.

However, this disappears when the flesh is cooked and sharkies are good on the plate.

Shark mackerel will take baitcast pilchards, mullet or garfish, but are a great target on lures.

Michael Parker tempted this shark mackerel with a soft plastic off Lancelin. Picture: Curtis Waterman

They will hit minnow lures with venom, and will also chase down surface lures such as poppers and stickbaits, making for some exciting hits.

Large metals are another good option, along with white leadhead jigs.

Sharkies are generally not fussy, but we have seen times when they are focused on tiny baitfish and won’t hit anything bigger.

When chasing sharkies, spinning gear is fine, with a casting rod of 2.4m-2.7m matched to an appropriate spinning reel (capable of fast retrieves) spooled with 9kg-14kg line more than adequate.

Sharkies can be caught near Rottnest Island, as proven by Eddie Sheppard with this 110cm specimen.

Continue Reading

December 01, 2023

Cockburn Sound seagrass growth success overshadowed by Westport dredging prospect

Seeds for Snapper volunteers are successfully seeding critical seagrass meadows in Cockburn Sound having dispersed seeds across the equivalent area of 12 Optus footy fields since it was launched five years ago…

Read More

November 29, 2023

Westport announcement – questions on potential “catastrophic impacts” on Cockburn Sound remain unanswered

Recfishwest continues to have serious concerns about the future of the environment, fish stocks and fishing in Cockburn Sound following the Government’s latest announcement on the final location and design for its…

Read More

November 29, 2023

Spotlight on Westport – far from sound planning in Cockburn Sound

Following the State Government’s announcement on the design and location for its Westport container port planned to be built in Kwinana in 2032, Recfishwest Operations Manager Leyland Campbell takes a closer look…

Read More

November 28, 2023

Metro cray fishers share concerns over Marmion Marine Park planning

Excitement is building for the annual whites run and the prospect of catching a cray for Christmas. Word is it’s imminent with a few soft-shelled crays already being taken off nearshore reefs by divers – so get…

Read More

November 17, 2023

Recfishwest’s Community Grant recipients for 2024 and their big plans for improving fishing across WA!

Whether it be fishing clubs or local businesses – community groups can easily tick off all their goals when they are backed in with adequate support and resources.    That is why over the last 12 years Recfishwest…

Read More

November 16, 2023

Join our cast of thousands and stand up for fishing in the challenges that lie ahead

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland takes a look back at a year of intensive activity by the peak recfishing sector body and how we can meet the challenges ahead for fishing and reap the opportunities. “It’s…

Read More