Pelagics Come Out to Play
  |  First Published: October 2011

The air and water temperatures should really start to warm up this month. This should create some excellent fishing as many fish species will become more active and feed more often.

There’s a huge variety of species to target in the Whitsundays – the islands, coastal edges, estuaries and Peter Faust Dam offer anglers an array of options.

Saltwater targets

October is often one of the best times of the year to fish the Whitsunday area, especially when targeting pelagics all over the islands. The fishing for GT and queenfish in particular should be very good this month. Both of these fish can be caught using a range of techniques from surface luring to deep jigging.

One technique that works well on both species is surface popping. Big GT of over 20kg are quite common in the Whitsundays. They hang around many types of country – deep rocky edges, reefy areas and can even be found cruising the shallow sand flats. The best way to get onto a few of the speedsters is to keep targeting likely areas with large poppers and stickbaits. Make long casts and try to land the lure behind the area you’re targeting, then retrieve through the zone. Be aware that the noise of a big popper landing on the water can sometimes spook these fish.

When retrieving the lure on the surface, mix up your retrieve. Give it some large ‘blooshes’, some long draws of the rod and remember to use pauses. This makes it seem like a large injured fish on the surface. GT can be found at Double Rocks, Nara Inlet, Double Cones, Hook Passage, Grimston Point and a range of other spots.

Reef fish species will also be well worth targeting in October. Coral trout, emperor and sweetlip can be found around the deep reef areas as well as among the shallow coral bommies, drop-offs, reef crevices and ledges. When fishing the shallow reefs, you can use a range of jighead rigged soft plastics fished in tight against the structure. The largest coral bommies will generally hold the largest fish. You want to try and fish your lure close to the bottom – underneath the structure where the shade is. This is where the majority of big reef residents hang out.

Kayak fishing

In the past month we’ve been using two Hobie Pro Angler kayaks for fishing around the inshore waters of the Whitsundays. We’ve been amazed at the usability and design of these kayaks. The Mirage Drive system would have to be one of the best features from Hobie. You have two pedals that you operate with your feet which drive two fins underneath the kayak. This means you don’t need a paddle to move about, leaving your hands free to fish. It’s also faster and easier than paddling as your leg muscles are much stronger than your arms.

On a recent trip, we towed the two Hobie’s behind our boat for five kilometres out from Shute Harbour. We fished around the edges of the reef at low tide and found a huge school of small GT. They weren’t monster fish but were great fun on the light bream rods we were using. It was fun to watch them chase and attack the little Rapala Skitter Pop as it darted along the surface. We also caught giant herring and were amazed at how strong these fish are and how much they lept about on the surface when hooked. The Hobie Pro Angler is exceptionally stable - you can easily stand up and fish. Overall they are just an excellent fishing kayak but remember to stay away from any deep and muddy tropical rivers! Our kayaks are fitted with Lowrance Elite 5 GPS sounders, which are perfect for finding fish and structure while pedalling along.

Second chance at permit

On another recent trip fishing with the kayaks, we spotted several large permit tailing on shallow rocky edges. These are a rare fish to find so we were excited watching them waving their large tails around in the shallows while feeding on the bottom. We’ve only ever had one previous encounter with a large solitary permit. It was slowly cruising along a shallow sandy beach and wasn’t interested in our offerings – no matter what we tried.

These permit however, looked like more of chance. We quickly tied on and tried out a few different crustacean style soft plastics for no response. They didn’t seem to be interested. Then we tied on a Squidgy Stealth Prawn with a 1/8 TT jighead and fished it almost on top of them. After a few ultra-light hops of the lure the line jolted tight, we set the hook and a large permit was making strong lunges left and right. It was a nice size fish too. However, after only a few seconds the leader rubbed against a sharp rock and the permit got away.

At this stage the light was almost gone and we had to make the long trip back before dark. As we pedalled away, we watched them tailing in groups. It was as though they were waving goodbye! It was the second unsuccessful attempt at a large permit – ah well, we’ll just have to get one third time lucky!

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