Fishing around the Southern Bay has been quite productive lately and this should continue through November. Snapper have been the most popular species on anglers’ hit lists, but flathead, bream, whiting and crabs are also available.
Now that summer is almost upon us, warm-water species like jacks, cod, mackerel, grass emperor and various trevally are also becoming more common.
The weather patterns in summer mean that mornings tend to be the calmest time of the day, before the afternoon sea breeze makes open waters quite choppy. Getting out early and returning early is a good plan for fishing exposed areas on most days, while more sheltered waters are a great option for when the afternoon northerlies begin to blow.
If the weather forecasters are right in their predictions of a La Nina season, then we also have plenty of afternoon storms to look forward to as well. Estuary species such as mangrove jacks and cod often bite really well just before a storm comes through and again in the calm period after it has passed.
Mangrove jack fishing is a favourite among many anglers in Queensland – there is not much that beats the heart stopping strike of a big jack on a lure as well as the first run back into the snags. Traditionally, heavy baitcast outfits and locked up drags have been used to subdue these fish using baits and lures. However, these days lighter threadline tackle is commonly employed, particularly for lure fishing in the canals. This is because the calm, clear water that is often found in the canals tends to make the jacks quite wary.
One of the tricks to early season jack fishing is to look for places where the water has warmed up more than the surrounding areas. Dead end canals are a classic scenario for this. Where the warm water meets a faster flowing channel can lead to a concentration of predators, as the jacks have both warmth and a food supply.
The same situation can occur in rivers where a warm shallow bay meets deeper channel edges, especially if there is some rocky cover on the drop-off.
There are many lures that can tempt mangrove jack but some excellent ones to try include Lucky Craft Bevy Shads, Yo-Zuri Sashimi Shads and Jackall Squirrels.
One of the frustrations of snapper fishing around the Southern Bay Islands for many anglers is where to start fishing. There is so much good reefy ground in areas such as Peel, Goat, Green and Mud islands, along with Wellington Point, Ormiston and Cleveland, that it can be hard to know where to begin. Most anglers get to know an area they fish regularly and the places where snapper tend to aggregate most often and stick to these spots. But what happens when the fish aren’t there?
Snapper will move around depending on tides, time of day and most importantly, food supply. Some days finding the fish is simply a matter of drifting further along the reef or moving to the next point that sticks out into the current.
However, on other days a good method to find snapper on the shallow reefs can be to troll for them. Deep diving minnows that run between 2.5-6m deep at a slow walking pace work extremely well, particularly in natural baitfish colours. Some of the more popular lures include Smith Cherry Bloods, Sebile Koolie Minnows and Megabass Deep X 100.
While trolling, keep a close eye on the sounder so you can mark any bait schools or fish aggregations. This way you can either troll back over the same ground again or go back to the spots and fish with plastics or baits. Working along the edges of the drop-offs in 5-8m depths is where many of the schooling fish hang around, making them an easy target for trolling lures.
Until next month, tight lines! If you would like more information about fishing the Southern Bay, just drop in and see us at Fish Head in the Victoria Point Town Centre (just across the car park from McDonalds) or drop an email to --e-mail address hidden--Reads: 2191