With the cold weather well and truly upon us we are definitely noticing a prominence in some of the classic winter species.
Tailor, snapper, mulloway, bream, luderick and squid numbers have been excellent however there is plenty of others on offer for those venturing out. Winter generally sees some excellent inshore fishing but this year I am expecting the cooler months to be better than most previous years. Schools of baitfish have been prominent right along the coast for several months and this has drawn in better numbers of predatory fish than usual.
Recent years have seen bream sporadically filtering into the estuaries to breed instead of an en masse run during the full moon. These plucky little specimens are great fun to catch and will take a broad array of lures and baits. They also taste great and are one of the most prominent species in the estuaries, making them relatively easy to catch even for the novice angler.
They are primarily scavengers and opportunistic feeders, eating most baits including mullet fillets, prawns, mullet gut, raw chicken fillet, squid strips and pilchard pieces. Any angler with bait in the water has a good chance of getting a bream in creeks, rivers, canals, harbours and around the bay island shallows.
Casting lures has become a popular way to target bream and anglers have come up with many different ways to tempt them in various situations. Offerings of plastics, blades, minnow lures, lipless minnows, stick-baits and poppers will all produce bream.
Bream will eat most things most of the time but like all species they can get fairly pedantic, so it pays to alternate your offerings if the fishing is tough. Often when they are playing hard to get you will need to resort to finesse techniques to achieve results.
Working your lures around the pontoons, rock walls and jetties in the canal developments and harbours will often produce some good numbers. Often they can be seen visibly feeding in these areas, making targeting them a little easier at times.
The shallows around the bay islands (Peel, Mud, Goat, King, Coochiemudlo, Russel and Lamb) and Scarborough Reef are great places to target bream on minnow lures and surface offerings (stickbaits and poppers). Other offerings will work, however buoyant offerings generally snag up less on the rubble and reef bottoms.
During the cooler months, tailor also lurk in these margins and will often engulf your bream offering, generally resulting in a lost lure when using light leaders. Fishing with baits in the deeper channels at Jumpinpin and Pumicestone Passage at night will generally reward anglers with a tasty feed of bream fillets. Don’t forget a hot thermos of coffee plus your beanie and flanno as the winter chill can be quite severe.
The finesse techniques of luderick fishing is quite and art yet a lot of fun. When they are on the chew you can easily catch good numbers. However much of the time they are pedantic and fussy feeders, mouthing the bait very subtly and refusing it quickly if not to their liking.
Most rock walls possessing weed growth (cabbage, purple and black weeds) are worth investigation. String weed grows in drains, on shallow flats and other estuarine areas and also makes excellent bait for luderick.
The canal rock walls (Raby Bay, Aquatic Paradise, Newport Waterways) as well as the Fisherman Island rock wall, Gold Coast Seaway, Wavebreak Island, Canal Boardwalk are renowned spots for anglers to target luderick. They often turn up en masse and will hang around for quite some time if there is plenty of weed growth in the area.
I am not keen on luderick as a table fish and only catch them for fun but plenty of anglers love their palatable qualities. They need to be bled immediately for the best eating quality. Many anglers keep them alive in keeper nets until they are ready to go home and then dispatch, bleed them and remove the black gut lining.
Luderick fishing is very different to many other forms and is definitely worth checking out if you are after a challenge.
Tailor would have to be one of the most desired species for many winter anglers, especially those who love beach fishing. The simplicity of going to the nearest beach, ocean facing rock groin or seaward wall to soak a few pilchards or cast a metal slice or popper is one of the great aspects of tailor fishing and a benefit in living in the southern part of our great state.
Tailor are tasty when eaten fresh and are one of my favourite breakfast cuisines when grilled and plated with a couple of soft fried eggs.
There are numerous land-based locations where tailor can be caught, many within the suburban precinct of Brisbane, Redcliffe, Bribie and both coasts.
The easiest to access locations for tailor close to Brisbane include the Manly Harbour rock wall, Woody Point Jetty, Scarborough Jetty, Amity Point rock wall, Skirmish Point, Bribie Island Bridge (mainly at night), Wellington Point Jetty and Scarborough foreshore.
Boaties have many other areas where they can access tailor and if you are willing to go for a bit of a drive there is a myriad of locations north and south of Brisbane where they can be located.
The shallows around the bay islands often hold good numbers of quality tailor. I have had success around Green, northern and western sides of Mud, western side of Peel and at Bird and Goat. They will take many offerings including flies, metals and hardbody lures. I love the visual aspect of using surface offerings such as small poppers and stickbaits. White or silver fly poppers such as Bob’s Bangers, Surf Warriors and Mylar Poppers are also successful.
In the surf environment many different lures can be used for tailor in addition to the popular pilchard. Chromed lures such as Flasha’s, Raiders, Lazers and Twisties are easy to cast and work well on hungry tailor. Poppers such as Cotton Cordell Pencil Poppers, Fat R’s and several different bloopers will all work well at times.
I have been using a lot of the Sebile lures of late and have been impressed with the castability of the Splashers, which are partially filled with water to aid in this regard. Another offering I am keen to try on the tailor this year are the Sebile Magic Swimmers, a jointed lure which snakes through the water and can be retrieved at varying speeds or just allowed to sink like a wounded baitfish. These have proven their worth on many species and I reckon they will be dynamite on large greenbacks in either the 125mm or 145mm sizes. I will let you know how they go.
Bait fishers usually choose pilchards however if you are hell bent on the larger trophy class greenback tailor then try pencil gar or salted bonito and tuna strips. The early mornings and late afternoons offer prime fishing for these larger fish however many keen anglers fish right through the night in the surf for their target species. While the surf beaches and headlands are prime spots for tailor, they will follow baitfish schools into many areas of the estuarine environment, often well upstream in the creeks and rivers.
By now there should be some westerly winds throughout the southeast. These tend to increase clarity in inshore waters, much to the liking of many squid species. Find some clean, clear water around reef, rubble and weed beds and there is an excellent chance you will be able to pluck a few squid from this location.
Generally there are plenty of quality squid to be caught from areas such as Manly Harbour, Amity Point rock wall, Scarborough foreshore, Cleveland Point, most of the canal developments and the bay island shallows.
While fishing with plastics for snapper around the bay island margins, I will often drag an egi (prawn-shaped squid jig) or a squid skewer baited with a pillie, which I suspend below a float. This often results in several squid or cuttlefish as an addition to the days catch. Squid numbers vary every year with last season being one of the better ones for a while.
With the increase in the popularity of eging (the art of fishing for squid) there is also a lot of new egi, skewers, egi storage bags and scents plus squid fishing rods and reels on the market. I think squid are a great target for junior anglers as the jigs only have small spikes without barbs and are easy to cast.
Most of the time squid are relatively easy to tempt once located and are easy to handle. I like the simplicity of going to my local waters with just a rod and reel, plus a shoulder bag containing a few egi, fluorocarbon leader, scissors and a cool storage bag and catching a few squid for a tasty meal.
With the cool weather upon us, we should be experiencing some exceptional snapper fishing both inshore and offshore. During the cooler months the larger breeding snapper come into the bay to spawn, making them accessible to anglers in smaller tinnies and even kayaks.
The Scarborough reef area is popular with those under pedal and paddle power as the reefs are close to shore and easily accessible. Many anglers cast soft plastics but it is surprising the number of good snapper that are taken on trolled lures. Eco-Gear SX48 and Manns Stretch 10 are just two popular offerings.
During good conditions the waters around Mud Island, Peel Island, Green Island and the artificial reefs are all worth a look. Launching a small tinnie or kayak from the beach at Moreton Island and fishing areas such as the Curtin Artificial can be exceptionally rewarding late afternoon and early morning.
Most plastics will take snapper when fished effectively with minimum weight jigheads and a slow retrieve. Experienced anglers, and those with good technique, are much more likely to produce the better results but it is often surprising to see the results obtained by first timers.
The shallow reefs of Brennans Shoals, Roberts Shoals and The Sevens offer anglers some excellent fishing at times with the pre dawn period generally producing the better results. Snapper can often be taken in quite shallow water, even around the mud flats at times. Quite a few decent specimens are generally caught from land-based locations such as the Wellington Point Jetty and Woody Point Jetty, generally by anglers targeting tailor or bream.
Within the bay some of the larger specimens are often caught at night by anglers with fresh fillet baits or live offerings such as slimey mackerel, pike or yakkas. Presentation is the key for the better quality fish over 5kg for both bait fishers and the plastics brigade. Shallow water requires utmost stealth for positive results.
Plenty of juvenile mulloway have been caught in the estuaries by anglers with plastics and baits. The majority have been juveniles under the minimum 75cm length, however some trophy class fish to over 50lb have also been taken, especially by anglers targeting larger specimens with larger live mullet, pike, slimey mackerel and yakkas.
There is often a few 10kg plus fish caught around Mud Island on plastics and baits by those targeting snapper with plastics and baits during June and July. The entrances to major systems such as Jumpinpin and the Pumicestone Passage are also good places to try. The Brisbane River has been producing increasing numbers of larger mulloway over the last few years.
Most of the larger river systems are worth a try with anglers working over the deeper holes and channels with plastics, vibration baits and live baits usually producing the better fish. Often the best opportunity for larger fish comes at night but they can be encountered any time. You may do several trips for no return and then catch a handful of large fish in a session. It often seems like a feast or a famine and most serious mulloway anglers put in many nights fishing for each large fish.
There are miles of option for anglers throughout June. The estuaries, bay and bluewater are all worth further investigation for anglers keen to tangle with some trophy specimens. Apart from the more prominent species covered throughout this report, there are plenty more on offer.
The chilly conditions often deter some from venturing out but the rewards for those who persist are generally worth it. Cold mornings soon mature into warmer days, making extended trips out on the water a pleasure. Those doing night sessions need to rug up and take a flask of coffee or other warming beverage however the quality of fish on offer definitely provides incentive for such an outing.
There is heaps of awesome action on offer throughout June, many opportunities coming from a land-based perspective, so finish reading this magazine, turn off the heater and get out and amongst them.Reads: 593