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Jag up the Trag
  |  First Published: October 2010



Typical spring northwesters and northerlies are now the order of the day. Early starts with early returns to harbour see the best weather for fishing.

Every Wide Caloundra angler knows there is nowhere out there to hide from these winds so pick the weather carefully before heading out.

The winter that never was has well and truly passed by. Water temperatures never got below 20ºC, usually hovered around 22ºC, which is way too hot for a good snapper run. Nevertheless, the temp is still pretty good for plenty of other species!

Trag jew is traditionally a rare addition to the creel, but surprisingly they made up the bulk of October 2009 catches. Incredible bagged out on trag on a couple of trips last October, and they have been just as plentiful and in bigger sizes through the past few months. I expect them to stay on the chew through this October.

Coral reef species, such as Venus tusk fish, good Moses perch and hussar up to 40cm, have bitten their way cheerfully through winter and have continued showing up in good numbers in the Incredible creel. With warmer weather and water on the horizon these species will be around in good numbers.

Pearl perch, which are normally pretty thin on the ground from July to late October, have hung about in reasonable numbers. When fishing in 60-70m, Incredible is retaining around 20 pearlies a trip. The fish range in sizes up to 50cm, which is good fishing for this time of year. The bottom is carpeted with undersized pearlies as well, so make sure you have your measuring stick on board. Good pearlies should start reappearing in even better numbers later this month.

I prefer to float line rather than using a paternoster rig at this time of year. It keeps you out of the rubbish pearlies as the better fish seem to get to the baits on the way down.

Snapper, tuna, kings and cobia will all swallow down the floating baits, and be prepared for the odd serious arm stretch. It pays to fish with a solid leader as these bigger fish will wear through a main line with their tails and fins during a prolonged battle.

Amberjack and yellowtail kingfish are keeping everybody happy at the moment. Solid school fish of both species in sizes of 3-6kg are prolific on the shallower reefs south and west of Wide Caloundra. Incredible was catching plenty of ambos and kings on a recent jigging trip and every boat we drifted past had someone with a rod bent over.

However, sharks have been a real problem when ambos and kings are plentiful. It has not been uncommon to have every hooked ambo or kingfish on a drift shark. It is time to then move away and try for other species.

Don’t try washing your hands over the side of the boat or towing a fish by hand before releasing it. The crew on Incredible has had 2m and 3m sharks taking fish just beside the boat, and even saw one having a crack at a mutton bird bobbing on the surface nearby. Spectacular!

If you are keen on trying jigging have a chat to Neil, Lynn, Steve and Daniel at Jones Tackle at Lutwyche. These guys are the jigging kings (and queens, sorry Lynn) and have plenty of jigging videos and good advice to give you an idea of what’s what. Jones Tackle will sell you all the good gear but also organise jigging trips on the Incredible to teach you the proper techniques. These are high energy fishing sessions and the results of this mainly catch-and-release fishery are truly outstanding. To have a crack at this multitude of spring species, please call Keith at Incredible Charters on 3203 8188 or email --e-mail address hidden--

BEHAVING BADLY

All anglers go fishing to get away from it all and have a quiet day, preferably without seeing another boat. However, given the record vessel registrations in Queensland, and the loss of access to fishing grounds through Green Zones, there are now more boats fishing closer together offshore, especially in popular spots such as Hutchies or on sunken wrecks.

Some blokes are losing their cool and abusing other anglers. This abuse is simply not on. I had the experience of being sworn at, fists shaken at me, and copping abuse on the radio when I last fished the Saint Paul. Comments such as, “We were here first; This is our mark; Go and find your own fishing spots; Charter boats think they own the ocean,” etc. I am well into my fifties and these young fellows were probably not even born when I first fished the St Paul!

This incident of abuse is not a one off problem. I have heard reports of experienced anglers sounding off and in fact even one charter skipper who will remain nameless has disgraced himself on the water this year. Wake up, shut up and keep fishing! The real enemy of anglers is rampant Green idealism not other anglers. Get better at sharing so that you don’t lose the lot.

SNAPPER REVIEW

Currently Fisheries are mounting a well funded propaganda campaign to convince anglers that snapper stocks are overfished. Even Bob Brown weighed into the snapper fishery during the Federal Election campaign, falsely claiming that over 90% of snapper stocks had been fished out. It really begs the question of what other false or gross overstatement has been made on other environmental matters. The propaganda campaign includes snapper updates being handed out at boat ramps, public meetings where management programs are NOT to be discussed, web and even Twitter listings.

All anglers need to be on the same page supporting the idea that any management regime for snapper should be good for snapper, but also minimise harm to businesses which depend on snapper for a living, including recreational fishing businesses.

The State Government should immediately commit to adequately funding the process so that the preferred options designed by the recreational, charter and commercial fishing reps on the Snapper Network Working Group can be implemented in their entirety.

To achieve the best results politically all sectors of our fishing community, including bait and tackle sellers, the boating industry, recreational, professional and commercial fishers need to speak with one voice. And the best vehicle for this one voice in my opinion is Marine Queensland. I hope to see advances made in creating this single voice in the very near future.

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