Soak up the Southern Bay
  |  First Published: May 2011

Most anglers really look forward to May; the weather is generally not too hot or cold and there are plenty of species available to provide variety to catches.

If you like to fish among the Southern Bay islands, then there are bream, flathead, whiting and jewfish to catch. Further north into the more open parts of the bay, there are snapper, tailor, bream and squid as well as tuna hunting in the open waters.


School jewfish have been putting in an early appearance this year. Many of the deep holes from Macleay Island down to Jumpinpin have been producing steadily. Baits such as mullet fillets or large prawns have been successful, as have soft plastics such as 7” Zooms, Assassins and Gulps. Pearl white in any brand is always a popular colour for jewie hunters, but the black and gold colour in the Assassin range would rate a close second.

Slowly hopping the lure along the bottom has proven to be most successful, with jighead weights varied to suit the depth and current. Around Macleay and Russell islands, 7-10g weights may be all that is needed, while in current at the ‘Pin, 30-45g may be more appropriate.

Other lures gaining in popularity are vibration baits like the Sebile Flat Shad and Megabass Vibration X. Like the plastics, they are hopped slowly across the bottom. Unlike soft lures, they put out a lot of vibration into the water which can bring a slumbering jewfish to life when other lures have failed.

Slack water around the bottom of the tide is a popular time to target jewies, but on small tide days and nights they will sometimes feed right through the tidal cycle.


Bream are a fish that will become more prominent in anglers’ bags at this time of the year. During daylight hours, they are suckers for small lures up in the shallows, while at night they will pounce on baits in similar areas.

When fishing during daylight hours, surface lures and shallow running lures work great on the incoming tide. Bream will frequently be working up into water so shallow they can barely cover themselves, in order to find the best titbits before their mates do.

Casting in close from a boat or by carefully walking along the shore is a great way to get in on some action. Generally the rocky points seem to hold the most fish, but open sandy stretches will often have cruising bream moving across them, so don’t discount these areas either. Topwater lures such as Megabass Dog X Jr are famous for this kind of fishing as they can be cast a long way and have a great action. Others which are popular include the Maria Pencil and Sebile Stick Shad.

If you prefer fishing in the evening, then the same rocky points as well as jetties and boat ramps, fish very well for the bream. The rising tide is again preferable at night, although around deeper spots some corkers can be caught on the falling tide. Very lightly weighted baits of mullet gut, mullet fillets or other oily flesh work great and a steady trickle of berley goes a long way to bring the fish in around you.

Try not to flash any lights about as the fish will often be sitting right at your feet and are easily spooked.


As the cooler months roll in, snapper are a species that rise to the top of many anglers’ wish lists. The Southern Bay islands are ideal places to chase snapper as the reef edges provide plenty of food and cover for them.

The recently deployed artificial reefs off Peel and Coochiemudlo islands should also be ideal places to target snapper in the coming months, although it remains to be seen as to how quickly snapper and other species will colonise these areas.

If you are fishing in daylight hours, then drifting the reef drop-offs casting soft plastics or lightly weighted baits is a great starting point. Generally I keep my eyes on the sounder as I’m drifting; any aggregations of bait or larger fish are a good reason to stay in the one area. If I don’t find any bait or catch fish on a particular drift, I’ll keep moving on, working my way round other spots until I do. Generally, once the bait is located, the snapper (and other species like tailor and bream) aren’t far behind.

Drifting at night is a little more challenging, but definitely rewarding. It helps to have some GPS marks for your drifts worked out during daylight hours first. Often anglers switch to quite large flesh baits at night, such as whiting, pike and mullet. These account for many of the trophy snapper caught throughout the bay in the winter months as well as a fair few big jewfish.

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 send an email to --e-mail address hidden--

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