By all accounts, there are schools of pelagic species from the Peron Islands to the east Melville coast.
There are plenty of ways to access mackerel.
Obviously, you can head straight out of Darwin, round Charles Point and across to Bass Reef, but only anglers in bigger trailer boats should do that… and you need to circumvent the closed areas.
Launching in Bynoe Harbour – say at Pioneer Beach or Crab Claw Island – will give you an easier run via Quail Island and straight out to Bass Reef or down a bit to Loee Patches.
Dundee Beach is a good mac-attack option because you can head either way to find fish.
To the north-east, there’s Loee Patches, past the corner of Roche Reefs, which itself is worth a shot.
To the north-west is Blaze Reef, wide of Point Blaze and one of the best Spanish mackerel spots along this part of the Top End – and it hasn’t been too bad for billfish in recent year.
If the weather is really good, then I’d be heading all the way down to the Perons and over to Bateman Shoals.
There you can expect to find the mackerel so thick that reef fishing will be out of the question because frenzied macks will most likely eat your baits and your sinkers on the way down and, if they miss, they’ll bite in half any reefies you hook and try to bring up to the boat.
Although closer to Darwin, the macs are not nearly so thick, fish are being caught around Lee Point and out from there on the Bottlewasher artificial reef.
This area is perfect for a half-day trip, and ideal for the smaller boats.
If you miss out on a mackerel, there are other sportfish keen to take a lure close to Darwin.
Longtail tuna were in Darwin Harbour during the neaps, so they’re a special to come in on the bigger high tides this weekend.
Apparently, they’ve been quite finicky, sounding after only a minute or two on the surface, so you’ll need to hit them fast and hard.
Charge in with the wind behind you, pulling up about 50 metres from the school and cutting your engine.
Your outfit should be a threadline reel of about Shimano 4000 size with a two-metre-plus rod with plenty of tip flick.
Line should be 10-15 kg braid, with a clear 20 kg monofilament leader attached.
Your lure should be as small a metal slice as you can cast, or a Marabou jig, or a Squidgy Flickbait.
If you want to cheat and cast twice as far as anyone else, hence not needing to get too close to the tuna, slide a 3 cm barrel sinker onto your leader, tie a No 2 treble on and scrape the lead sinker with a knife to shine it up.
Whatever you use, chuck it out as quickly as you can straight over the school, let it sink for three seconds, then, with rod tip down, wind like a maniac.
As far as mackerel are concerned, it’s no secret that they can be caught a number of different ways.
I reckon trolling lures is the most fun, and it gives you a chance to cover a wider area.
There are several proven mackerel trolling lures on the market.
The Classic 160 – in just about any of the Bobby Dazzler colour combinations – is a big lure which mackerel climb all over.
The Classic Bluewater is a beautiful lure that is a beauty to use.
The Killalure Saury – a great big lure – simply smashes the macks.
Reidy’s Big Boss is a great mackerel enticer in the two-hook version, especially in the Qantas colour but also the orange and yellow.
When you think about it, mackerel lure fishing can be just like barra: there are so many great choices.
Of course, once you find mackerel shoaling above a pinnacle, or in the vicinity of bait schools, dropping down metal jigs can also be great fun.
Susan Sinclair had some barra fun at Home Billabong in Kakadu.
Roger Sinclair and Brad Woollams fished with Graeme Williams for a brace of Bynoe Harbour barra.