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November’s Hottest Hits
  |  First Published: November 2011



Fishing opportunities during November are generally fairly varied. The warm weather and heightened water temperatures increase baitfish presence in Moreton Bay, its filtering waterways and well offshore.

This in turn promotes an increase in pelagic and demersal activity and promotes some pretty exciting fishing conditions for a broad array of species. Some species coming to the fore throughout November will be mackerel, billfish mangrove jack, whaler sharks and threadfin salmon yet there will also be plenty of other worthwhile targets. Lets look at some species on November’s hottest hits list.

SHARKS

Sharks, especially whalers will be super-aggressive throughout the warmer months. Moreton Bay, the Brisbane River and many smaller rivers and creeks will be inundated with these hungry predators. Whilst the majority will be less than 20kg, there are also plenty of larger, wear-your-brown-jocks specimens.

Moreton Bay is historically one of the great shark fishing ports of the world with many world records for whites, tigers and whaler sharks taken here in the past. This activity was initially prompted by the whaling station at Tangalooma.

Now the whaling has ceased, it is mainly smaller whalers that enter these waters each year. However there are still plenty of large specimens around, albeit not in the numbers that once frequented these waters. Now that there is a ban on taking any sharks (or rays) over 1.5m the numbers of these larger sharks will increase dramatically.

It won’t be long before there are plenty of large hungry sharks out there that have outgrown their natural food sources. Allowing species such as school mackerel, frigate tuna, mack tuna and bonito to continually be ring-netted in Moreton Bay will further deplete their food source. I certainly won’t be going for a dip in Moreton Bay waters any time soon.

Smaller whaler sharks are great fun to catch on lighter line classes and many consider them good table fare. In Moreton Bay it is regularly possible to catch double figures of these whalers in a single morning with specific targeting. Drifting the waters wide of the bay islands; in the spoil grounds; in prominent channels; and adjacent condensed baitfish aggregations will heighten your chances of success.

I have targeted, caught and tagged huge numbers of sharks in Moreton Bay over the last ten years and have fine tuned my personal technique and rigging for consistent results. Generally I fish 3kg to 6kg line that is looped to an 80lb wind-on-leader. This is then attached to 1m of 135lb nylon-coated wire with two 8/0 circle hooks snelled about 15cm apart. The bait is generally a whole gar, large slimey mackerel or even a slab of tuna.

This bait is unweighted and drifted around 30m behind the boat into a tuna oil slick. Additional baits are often suspended a little further out under a balloon. Drifting with the current will increase coverage with your bait and heighten your chances.

Most sharks encountered will be less than 20kg but large whalers, tigers, hammerheads and even the occasional white will show up. Handle all sharks carefully as even the mini models can still inflict life-threatening injuries.

In the Brisbane River and other similar waterways you are best to use live mullet or small live catfish. Suspended them under a float and fish them around the lighted bridges at night or right on the bottom during the daylight hours.

MACKEREL

Surface feeding schools of mackerel should be located in Moreton Bay throughout November. Initially, most schools consist of school mackerel but we should see a few spotties arriving later in the month.

Traditionally mackerel are generally caught with a cast far, wind quick technique but plenty of new methods are also employed these days. Although not necessarily any more effective, these techniques have added a little variety to the fishing.

Soft plastics, hardbody stickbaits, flies, vibration baits, blades, poppers and many other artificials can be used effectively. Chromed slugs and slices will probably always remain the popular technique due to ease of casting and simplicity.

Reels that retrieve more than 1m of line per turn of the handle will increase the chances of exciting these mackerel into striking. You simply cannot wind too fast for these mackerel. If they are only following your lure and not striking then you aren’t retrieving fast enough.

I prefer monofilament line to braid as it decreases the chance of torn hooks, especially when a mackerel is close to the boat and begins its head shaking antics. There is no denying however that braid will provide increased casting distance.

Schools can pop up throughout any part of the bay but prominent places to start your search include the Pearl Channel, Rainbow Channel

For anglers with smaller craft, the grounds out from the Brisbane River will often produce healthy numbers. The area between Mud Island, the Four Beacons, Measured Mile and Middle Bank is definitely worth a look, as it will hold prominent schools of surface feeding mackerel for weeks on end.

Smaller congregations of school mackerel, usually less than ten individuals, will often be located cruising the surface. A keen eye will often locate the V-shaped wakes and surface rippling during calm conditions. Always have a spin rod rigged and ready to cast when traversing throughout Moreton bay as this pelagic action can pop up anywhere.

While wire seems like a good idea for those targeting mackerel, it will greatly decrease your hook up rate on bay fish. Start winding before your lure hits the water and you will greatly decrease your bite off ratio and still hook plenty of tasty macks.

BRISBANE RIVER

I found the fishing in the Brisbane River has been excellent since the early year floods. This should continue throughout the summer months with species such as threadfin salmon, estuary cod, snapper, flathead, bream, sharks and many others being regularly caught.

Threadfin numbers are still fairly healthy despite the excessive numbers some anglers keep plus their limited survival rate if not handled correctly. Removing the hooks and releasing them without lifting them from the water will heighten their chance of survival and ensure the health of this species as a whole.

Threadfin can be targeted along the edges of the drop-offs into the main river basin with a variety of lures and live baits. The first of the receding tide generally produces the best results I have found, however I have caught them at all stages of the tidal movement.

Baitfish and prawn activity will generally enable you to pinpoint prominent areas to target these fish. The lighted areas around bridges, jetties, pontoons and waterside buildings are ideal places to target threadfin at night.

My favourite lures for this situation are Atomic Prongs, Sebile Magic Swimmer 110, Z-Man Swimmerz and Shrimpz, Jackall Mask 70 and Thready Busters, although results will be forthcoming on many different presentations.

The rock walls at the mouth of the river will produce some decent numbers of estuary cod, bream, flathead and snapper throughout November. Casting plastics and hardbody minnows will usually pay dividends but quality live and fresh baits will also produce.

Other key areas to try include Clara’s Rocks, the Gateway Bridge pylons, the Oil Pipeline and adjacent any of the major wharves. Remember these have a 30m exclusion zone around them (further when ships are in dock) and you can be fined for breaches.

Having a sounder and knowing how to use it well can definitely short track your search for baitfish and predatory fish. If fishing the Brisbane River at night, ensure your boat lights exceed the requirements, as water police are fairly pedantic in this waterway.

CRABS

Crabbing will be good throughout November with both mud and sand crab numbers increasing along with the water temperature. Muddies will be caught in most creeks, estuaries and small saltwater drains and gutters.

Getting to those hard to access locations will often produce the best catches and those with smaller tinnies, canoes and kayaks have a decided advantage in reaching these locations.

Setting pots overnight will heighten your chances of success but with pot theft sadly being a common occurrence these days, many crabbers hesitate at doing this without staying in the general area.

Chicken carcasses, whole mullet, fish frames and many other baits will work well for crabs.

Remember that witch’s hat style dillies are now illegal in Queensland and you can only use pick-up style dillies (often called NQ dillies) and safety pots for targeting crabs. Pots must be adequately labelled as per fisheries regulations and have the appropriately sized float. Oil bottles and any container that has held chemicals or fuels are not allowed as floats.

Setting your pots in the deeper holes, adjacent collapsed mangrove banks and at the mouths of major drains and channels will improve your results.

Sand crab numbers will get better in the coming months but there will still be decent numbers to be caught throughout November. Setting your pots along the edges of prominent ledges or contours and adjacent the bay islands will put you in with a good chance of scoring a tasty feed.

Regulations for sand crabs are the same as for mud crabs in relation to crabbing apparatus, however they have a different size limit, measuring method and bag limit.

BILLFISH

Billfish numbers, predominately black marlin and sailfish, should be on the increase throughout November. Skirted lures are generally your best option for blacks when searching the prominent grounds for some activity.

There is a wide array of lures on offer with the better brands generally producing the best results. Cheaper lures are often prone to less stability in the water and can produce unfavourable amounts of line twist at times. This is not always the case however and cheaper resin-head skirts have all caught their fair share of billfish.

I opt for quality however, regularly trolling lures from the stables of Bahama, Black Bart, Meridian, Blacks Snacks, Pakula, Hollowpoint and Joe Yee. Keep riggings simple and don’t go too heavy on your leader size to maximize action and heighten your chances considerably.

Check that hook points are razor sharp every time the lure goes into the water and put anode tape on chemically sharpened hooks to avoid the hook points becoming brittle from electrolysis.

Prime grounds to begin your search include Hutchinson Shoals, the Trench, the area between Point Lookout (around the Group) and out to the Waverider Buoy, Flinders Reef to Cape Moreton and the Eight Mile to Eighteen Mile grounds off the Sunshine Coast.

Shallow grounds such as Yellowpatch, Western Rocks and the area between the South Passage Bar and Flat Rock (except the exclusion zone) all produce black marlin and the occasional sailfish at times. I have seen blacks caught in as little as 7m of water when baitfish activity is prominent.

MANGROVE JACK

If you have ever wanted to tangle with one of these crimson critters, November is a prime month to do so. The hot days and warming water makes jacks hungry and aggressive. Add in a rising barometer (especially when late afternoon storms are building) and you have the perfect conditions.

Early mornings, late afternoons and nights are prime times but jacks can be encountered at any time. Live baits probably provide the easiest approach for the first timer, however catching them on lures is even more special.Try casting around rock walls, bridges, jetties and mangrove snags with hardbody minnows, soft plastics, blades and vibration baits. Surface offerings like poppers, stickbaits and fizzers provide those knee-trembling, explosive surface strikes, which produce vivid memories and a rush of adrenalin every time you recall the experience.

Most keen mangrove jack anglers release the majority of their catch despite great eating qualities. The excitement of a capture will last way longer than the memory of the meal and anglers want to guarantee the future stability of their population in our waters.

Most river systems will hold numbers of these aggressive predators, however those with the better structure are the first places to look. Don’t think you must visit remote creek systems, as man-made structure provides perfect habitat.

Canal systems are prime suburban waters to try your luck. You don’t even need watercraft to get into the action as many prime spots can be cast to from the bank.

Casting almost parallel to the rock walls and retrieving your lure so that it bangs and bounces off the rocks will put you in good stead for tangling with a jack or estuary cod. Bream, flathead, trevally, tarpon and many other species can also be encountered.

Accurate casting, good lure presentation and lightning fast reflexes are almost a pre-requisite for hooking and landing a jack on lures.

I regularly use hardbodies such as Smith Cherryblood, Sebile Koolie Minnow 90, Jackall Squirrel, OSP Power Dunk, Megabass Live-X Margay, Lucky Craft Bevy Shad 75 and Pointer 78 and Sebile Magic Swimmers. Good plastics can include Z-Man 4” Swimmerz, Atomic Prongs, Castaic Jerky-J Boot-tails plus many other paddletails and shads.

Fishing with live baits such as mullet, prawns, herring, pike and others will also produce decent results at times. Even a fresh strip of mullet will entice the occasional fish. You need to put your baits close to structure, preferably in the eddies, or in deeper holes.

Turning the fish before it reaches sanctuary can be a tough ask in some areas however that is the challenge of hand to hand combat with mangrove jacks and one aspect that makes them such a desirable capture.

CONCLUSION

As you can tell there is plenty of action to be had and some great species to try your skills at targeting. In addition to the aforementioned, offshore trolling will produce wahoo, mackerel, tuna, mahi mahi and other speedsters. Bottom fishing or jigging for snapper, pearl perch, amberjack, yellowtail kingfish and the like will also produce some quality captures.

The estuaries, bay, creeks, rivers and bluewater all have plenty on offer for those probing their waters, providing November’s hottest hits for your angling pleasure.

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