Bait to Plate

Kev Collins

Well known Restauranter and co-owner of Fish D'vine & The Rum Bar in Airlie Beach. When Kev's not working he's out fishing in the amazing food bowl of the Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park or in his tinnie in the estuaries crabbing! His blog imparts wisdom, tales and info on all things fishing and food.

Mack Time Now!

It’s mackerel season in the Whitsundays with these amazing fishing showing up in numbers all around the Whitsunday Islands. They do seem to be a bit late this year but are schooling up and relatively easy pickings for those in the know. A fish which is great to catch, fights hard and clean and is sensational on the plate. A lot of visitors are sceptical about the generic term “Mackerel”. Across the world there are many fish called mackerel, and particularly through Europe and the UK as well as the southern states of Australia mackerel are a small, oily fish with dark red flesh and strong fishy flavour and are a bit of an acquired taste. In Northern Australia however, our mackerel, more particularly the Spanish mackerel, is a prized catch and wonderful eating fish. Clean white flesh, flaky texture and mild flavour it is the staple of the upmarket fish & chip trade, (at least it is for good fish and chip shops not tempted by cheap imports like Basa) and mackerel steaks on a hot BBQ are an absolute treat, and, if it ever came to it and I could only ever have 1 more fish meal, this would be it. If you get a chance to cook a mackerel steak, treat it like beef. Rub with a little oil, season and then cook on a really hot grill so each side is sealed. 3 minutes or so on each side (depending on thickness). Our principle commercial fisherman Trevor Draper came back in on Friday from a few days at sea and we have some beautiful mackerel steaks on special for the next few days. We also have some long tail tuna caught by Keith Brennan in Repulse Bay as well as Coral Trout, Red emperor and lots of local Barramundi. I did get out myself on Friday for a quick fish and as well as nailing a nice Mack, picked up a whopper Coral trout which will sometimes grab a mackerel bait when you troll a bit too close to the reef edge. They are always big trout and a “very nice in deed” by-catch.