Family Fun Fishing
  |  First Published: December 2010

Merry Christmas to all fishers and their families. The end of the year is a time to look back and reflect on what has past and see how it can help us in the future.

2010 was the first year that fishing politics took the front page. The Greens, under Bob Brown, promised to close a minimum of 30% of ALL Australian and State waters to fishing, and Labour’s Peter Garrett unilaterally declaring the Coral Sea as a Conservation Zone. This was then by the current Bioregional Planning process threatening the livelihoods of thousands of Australians without hope of recompense as well as potentially destroying the number one recreation of hundreds of thousands of Australian rec fishers.

Disappointingly, these threats to end fishing as we know it were not enough to sway anglers to vote down a hostile Government this time. Additionally, a disconnected Qld Fisheries Department has a RIS waiting to be released which includes four month closures to all Rocky Reef fishing. This promises again to destroy fishing businesses that serve recreational anglers as well as the wider community.

Looking forward, the Bioregional planning process will deliver draft plans in 2011, as will Qld Fisheries on snapper management. In my opinion, 2011 will be the watershed for Fisheries management in Australia; if anglers roll over and accept being treated as political pawns to appease the Greens in these current processes, it is time to take up golf!

Owning and operating a charter vessel in December reminds me that it is not all about the fishing. Groups of work colleagues or employers looking for an activity that rewards their loyal workers but has a fixed cost and time frame book the Incredible for their end of year work functions.

Likewise family groups and friends go aboard charters to spend a great day out with their mates and kin with the emphasis on having a lot of laughs, lots of fun, hopefully some good fishing and definitely lots of great memories.

On board the Incredible I have a basic formula for providing family and friends for a great day out, especially over the Christmas break when the waterways are well populated and family time takes precedence over predawn starts. It revolves around targeting plentiful and common species to maximise catching with the minimum of stealth, effort and especially patience.

I would recommend trying this with your own vessel and family during the Silly Season as well. Here are the ingredients for a good family day on the water:

(1) Get up early and go, but only at a time when she-who-must be-obeyed as well as the kidlets are not threatening mutiny before the launch.

(2) Take some tucker and a thermos to share on the way out.

(3) Head to the shallow reefs. Either troll or drift and float line. Species on the troll will be wahoo, mac tuna, kings and cobia.

Make sure you put wire on your lures. There is only one sort of lure to use when wahoo are around – cheap ones! The attrition rate on lures caused by snip offs by these toothy critters brings a gleam to the eye of even the most blasé tackle shop owner. And even if you are catching mac tuna, the number of sharks around this year will account for plenty of snatched lures at the same time.

The bottom has mixed tropical species for the taking, including hussar, sweetlip, various cod, fusilier, morwong, and much more. If I had a group with younger participants, a hussar is a worthy foe in 20m or so of water on light spin gear for the inexperienced. The rig simply needs to be a small ball sinker from number 2 to 5 threaded above a single 2/0 to 5/0 suicide hook on the family whiting gear.

Any lump of fish flesh, squid or pillie will complete the assemblage. There are plenty of coloured fish to be caught, marvelled at and released unharmed to do battle another day as well as great tasting plate fish.

There is also an enthusiastic December population of juvenile kingies and ambos that will bite avidly on most baits and lures and then do their very best to pull you out of the boat. For many this will be their first encounter with a genuine sportfish that pulls like the estuarine stingray but is a real fish. Just be aware of the new minimum size for kingies is 60cm, which will see most of these rat kings returned to the sea.

(4) Stop for smoko. Have some more to eat, admire your catch, then move on to plan B. This could take many forms, all of them simple to execute and with a high chance of success. Head back to Western Rocks, jig some livies and anchor up for a cobia.

Or cruise back towards the Shipping Channel and prepare to throw slugs at any boil of pelagic activity you can sight.

Or anchor under the Cape on the boulders and berley up the clouds of aquarium fish and trevally that reside there. They are a fantastic spectacle. The Trevally will bite on small unweighted bits of anything and provide great sport for the young ‘uns.

Or back to Tangalooma for a swim or a snorkel around the wrecks. All of these activities are a pleasure in themselves.

I wouldn’t bother with the deep stuff due to probable current problems, freshening afternoon sea breezes and the physical exertion required that could turn off the young and the inexperienced.

(5) Go back on to the beach and do lunch under a twisted banksia or the plentiful grey and whispering sheoaks. From close to Bulwer to south of Tangalooma, Moreton’s white sandy bottom is gently sloping close to the beach. The current can really boil, so please make sure all children are fully supervised and everyone, especially if there has been some Christmas cheer shared, should stay close to the beach break.

(6) Enjoy the wonder and joy of the young and the less experienced as they catch and probably release a plentiful supply of unders and smaller fish. The trophies can be sought when the kids are back at school.

We share a wonderful relationship with nature, learning from it and grazing lightly from its bounty. Let’s all do our best through educating our politicians to ensure that this fishing thing continues for a few more years yet.

If you would like to take your business or family group fishing in December, please call Keith at Incredible Charters on 3203 8188 or 0427 038 188 or email: --e-mail address hidden--

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