Despite all the Green Zones, this year has delivered great fishing. This is mainly thanks to all the heavy rains we received in 2009 and into this year.
The fishing is easily as good if not better than the halcyon years of 2003 and 2004, our last wet seasons. Coinciding with heavier rainfall, we have not experienced the usual seasonal variation in availability of species. The beauty of this is that no one species has to be hammered to bring home a feed. Simply by changing depths, fishing techniques, or by moving a few miles north or south there has been a wide range of species gracing the creel.
Spring kings are about, and given the strong recruitment of juveniles in recent years, there are plenty of bigger fish between 6-12kg hurting the punter. Unlike their close cousins the amberjack, the yellowtail kingfish can be pretty indiscriminate in their eating habits and will often scoff dead baits. Given that the pearlies are also regularly on the big side of 40cm at the moment, I would be happy to go up a hook size and use heavier leader in case the kings turn up.
Jigging is also an energetic way to catch kingies. Pearlies and snapper eat jigs as well so a mixed bag is a possibility for the young and the fit.
Pearl perch are being caught everywhere. The deep water boys are catching plenty over 4kg. In the shallower waters between 55-85m, which are my preferred hunting depths, quality pearlies over 1.5kg are regularly being landed on the humble paternoster rig.
Venus tuskfish are about in good numbers and are the best quality I’ve seen in my 30 years of fishing these grounds. And they are among the best chewing fish (along with pearl perch) on the planet.
Trag Jew will probably disappear this month if last year’s pattern is repeated. Trag now seem to be a regular feature of our fishery during the cooler months and into early spring. Make the most of them as they are plentiful, great chewing and distract attention away from snapper.
There are plenty of welcome by-catch in Moses perch, black spot wrasse (pigfish) and even white trevally coming aboard.
If you want to fish a little deeper at Wide Caloundra over the 100m line or south of the Cape, the snapper are still biting their heads off on floaters.
Another bounty of the sea this year is the plague of bonito we are experiencing. Incredible has been carrying light spin gear and spinning the bonito up on slugs. Simply use the same techniques that work on mackerel around the Moreton Bay beacons.
The bonito are a lot of fun on light gear and make brilliant bait for everything except luderick. Bonito are also a white fleshed variety and some of my mates even eat them (probably because they can’t catch pearlies, trag, parrot, etc). Again beware, as a slug being jigged up in the expectations of a 1-2kg bonito is also fair game for the omnivorous kingies. On light gear you are either in for a long fight or a quick and spectacular bust off! You have been warned.
To pursue a feed of these great chewing species, as well as getting your arms stretched, please call Keith of Incredible Charters on 3203 8188 or email: --e-mail address hidden--
Call me old and cynical, but the only solution to the ‘snapper calamity’ is to have strong intervention from Minister Mulherran. The science is questionable. The Minister has thankfully instigated an independent review of the science which should focus on the sources and representativeness of the data collection sites, and also whether data was counted multiple times.
There appears to be heavy reliance on data from the Gold Coast. Its inshore reefs have suffered severe habitat degradation since the Seaway and adjacent sand pumping station was built to keep sand flowing north. It would be fair to say that much of the Gold Coast’s inshore reef system is now buried under misdirected sand. If some of the Gold Coast data has been used a number of times the conclusions will certainly fail to reflect the true status of the fishery which stretches as far north as the Swains.
There are currently plenty of snapper off Moreton and North. Is it a blimp on the radar that there are snapper this year or was it a blimp on the radar that the snapper (and all other) fisheries were very quiet during the drought?
If the Snapper Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) takes the form of the draft options presented to the Snapper Working Group, it will contain draconian measures which can literally bring the charter, bait and tackle industries and sellers and repairers of rec fishing boats to its knees. Reef fishers chasing pearl perch, trag jew and snapper would be stuck on the bank for up to four months. It is impossible to support the release of the Snapper RIS if it mirrors the destructive options presented to the SNWG. How the Public servants came up with options two, three and four was certainly NOT through consultation with SNWG members.
The sense I am getting from my dialogue with Fisheries is they are keener on rushing to an outcome rather than taking the time and demanding the money from Treasury so that there will be a proper snapper management regime which is good for snapper, good for the industry and fair to all participants.
Marine Queensland has hosted a number of meetings which have included all major stakeholders in this fishery. Top management from Sunfish (recreational fishos), QSIA and MBSIA (professional sector), seafood marketers, MQCVD (Charter sector), Marine QLD (Marine Industry) and AFTA (tackle shops and wholesalers) have met on a number of occasions to date.
The presence of all key stakeholders at the table and the high level of goodwill and cooperation expressed by all indicate that the old government policy of ‘divide and conquer’ will thankfully be a thing of the past.
The average angler needs to understand that currently Fisheries is running on a shoe string budget. The lack of funding has failed to date to bring the major stakeholders together at an adequate level of representation to advance a mutually acceptable and suitably funded management process for snapper.
I believe that any current RIS should be thrown out. Ministerial advisers, not the hacks from Fisheries, should be sitting down to produce a RIS which can be supported by rec fishos and the industry. The options I have seen in the draft RIS are simply unacceptable to the voting and fishing public.
I am old enough and cranky enough now to spend a lot of time arguing with those who would see fishing consigned to the pages of history as some former barbaric past time of the unwashed and ignorant. I am neither of the above and do not support the new ‘Green’ ideals of either starving to death or living on a diet of mung beans for the rest of my life. Come on fishers! Speak out now or forever hold your tofu salad! Unfortunately the sad truth is that anglers will need to be vigilant to stamp out attempts to destroy their recreation and for some of us, our livelihoods.
As it’s getting closer to Christmas (where has this year gone?) there are plenty of potential Christmas gifts for your favourite fisherperson on board Incredible Charters. Clients go fishing on charter vessels for a variety of reasons and we try to provide for the needs of this diverse group of anglers. Incredible Charters also communicates what’s biting offshore regularly with the three major tackle stores on Brisbane’s North side: Tackleworld Sandgate, 3269 5060; Jones Tackle, 3857 5857, and; The Tackle Shop, Carseldine 3862 9015.
To organise your next charter, please call Keith at Incredible Charters on 3203 8188 or email --e-mail address hidden--Reads: 1962