Snapper Back the Blues
  |  First Published: August 2011

We are well and truly in the doldrum months for gamefish anglers in South East Queensland. Most people’s attentions have turned to thoughts of snapper and reef fishing rather than trolling. The hard core gamefishers among us will still be out there trying for blue marlin on the shelf but I think more attention should be paid to the 80-200m depth range and a chance at big blacks and stripes.

Every year a lot of billfish are hooked on the 80-100m line by anglers floating pillies for snapper, so they are out there. I remember fishing for, and getting, billfish on places like Spot X off the Gold Coast in August. On the Sunshine Coast any of the bait fish grounds holding bait will produce, as well as the Barwon Banks and The Hards being worth a look. Off Brisbane on the deep wrecks holding bait or the deeper lines of reef like Deep Tempest are all worth a try.

A couple of boats that have tried recently have come up trumps. Matt Price’s 26’ Whitley Dream Catcher tagged a blue during June off Cape Moreton.

On the Sunshine Coast, boats to find joy were Craig McCulloch and Jeff Oates on Craig’s 7.2m Kevlacat Reel Capture and Adrian Wright’s 35’ Bertram Bangalee. Fishing two up, Craig and Jeff tagged a nice 80kg striped marlin on 8kg line after about 40 minutes. If they had three aboard they may have had an earlier couple of tag shots, but that is the fun and frustration of fishing short-handed. At one stage they were racing forward at 14 knots and the fish was still unloading line on them. The same day on Adrian’s boat, Steve Dahl slipped out a lure on a stand up 80 outfit in shotgun position and shortly after got to fight a nice 100kg black marlin.

In the months to come bait schools could form at any stage off the Sunshine Coast and with them will be either sailfish or, if history is any indication, 5-10kg black marlin or 60-120kg black and striped marlin.

Other options are trailering or cruising to places like the town of 1770 or Fraser Island. 1770 will have 10-20kg black marlin on any of the bait schools in August or September. Fraser Island has seen good bites of juvenile black marlin if the eddies are right in August, and the sailfish can be at their peak in September.

August is also the month for record size wahoo and Spanish mackerel, if decking a fish and weighing it for a record is your thing. Later on September and October have seen some good blue marlin action anywhere south of Yeppoon on the Shelf.

It will be interesting to see what happens with next season’s run of juvenile black marlin. Talking to Mick Meirs of Townsville, no blacks have been tagged south of the Palm Group so far this year. In good years some are tagged as early as May. It is not all doom and gloom though, as some years they only turn up in August, just in time for the Townsville Tournament which is always in early September.

I recently had the chance to step aboard a new fibreglass trailer boat that really caught my eye. The Skippercraft Archer 650 by Steve Peake is a concept missing to some extent in fibreglass land. Being a small operation, Steve is able to customise the boat a lot more than the big factory guys, which is why the custom plate aluminium boat builders are doing better than the big glass boat builders as they are able to fully customise fuel tank sizes, kill tank sizes, dash layouts, cabin configurations and so on, not just ticking or crossing a few boxes in a brochure.

Steve is an experienced pattern maker and has been in the industry his whole life, along with his brother Clayton Peake of the famous South Australian brand Clayton Galant. He’s worked for Noosacat, Haines Hunter, Freedom, Lifestyle and many more. Steve can do the Archer 650 in a walkaround, windscreen, clears and bimini model or a hard top model. And the best bit is you can customise dashes to fit today’s big screen electronics, fiddle with fuel tank sizes for long range trips to Fraser Island or alter underfloor storage, kill tanks and ice boxes. Steve can be contacted on 0407 568 805.

On charter it is reef fishing time of the year. For jiggers there are plenty of amberjack and kingfish about, I have mostly been chasing them on live baits and getting a few on the plastics, but also suffering quite a few reefings. The water in close is super cool for this time of year, which is looking great for the snapper season, with lots of bait and nutrients that the Brisbane River would have pushed out to sea earlier in the year. It all adds up to some fun times ahead.

Give me a call at South Queensland Charter Services on 0407 574 868 or check out my website, www.sqcs.com.au to get in on the snapper action. Come out before September and you will still be on the old possession limit of five per angler and not the new four limit.

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