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Hardbody Beasts in the Bay
  |  First Published: November 2011



With the weather warming up, fishing in Moreton Bay opens up many opportunities. Whether it is spinning for mackerel or top water fishing in the shallows for big bream, there is always something happening.

The fishing that I focus a lot of time on this month is throwing hardbodies along the reef edges and on top of the reef in the shallows. It’s a challenging way to fish the bay islands; there may be many lures and fish lost but it’s very rewarding. From finding the right lure to use in different water depths and ways to stop those bigger fish taking you back into the reef, it’s all a great learning curve.

You will encounter an array of species while working lures around the reefs in the bay. The main two would have to be the grassy sweetlip and the snapper. When caught on hardbodies, these fish will pull harder than what they do when caught on soft plastics or bait. I would definitely put them in the same bracket as a mangrove jack - they hit the lure hard and are very good at finding that big bommie to bust you off on. Your gear really needs to be up to scratch and ready for the fight. This is what I will be focusing on in this month’s article.

Rods

I like a rod that has a moderate to fast action so that the load of pulling a deep diving hardbody through the water isn’t loading half the rod up before a fish even hits the lure. When the fish hits the lure, it will allow you to still strike and have enough power in the rod to set the hooks nicely. A rod with a bit of length always helps in terms of the casting distance. You should cast your lure as far away from the boat as possible. This will allow you to cover a large section of reef in one cast and also allow your lure to get to its optimal diving depth. I like a rod between 7’-7’3” and with a cast weight of around 1/8-1/2oz or maybe even a little more.

Reels

It is imperative that you have a reel with a nice, smooth and consistent drag. There is nothing worse than losing a fish either by pulling the hooks or popping a leader knot due to a sticky drag. With technology in reels improving, you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a nice smooth drag. However there are long term benefits to spending a bit more on your reel.

Reels in the Daiwa catalogue that will suit this form of fishing would be the Caldia 2500, Luvias 2500R and the Certate 2500R. The Stradic Ci4 3000, Sustain 3000 and the Stella 3000 in the Shimano range would also be a great option.

Braid and Leader

When casting lures I tend to fish a little heavier than what I would if I was fishing plastics purely because lures aren’t cheap so we don’t want to be losing too many. The braid I run on my reel is 20lb Toray Sea Bass Power Game PE1.2. In my opinion this braid is leaps and bounds ahead of other braids due to its extremely thin diameter and smooth nature. With your braid being thin in diameter and smooth, it will increase your casting distance by another 15-20%.

With leader you want a fluorocarbon that has great abrasion resistance again with a thin diameter. I use Toray L-Hard which has a great range in breaking strains from 3lb-20lb. It is a nice and soft fluorocarbon and ties great knots.

Lures

When fishing the bay islands, the biggest misconception is that big bait equals big fish. Around the islands a lot of the bait is between 50-90mm, so this is the size of the lures that you want to be using. You still get big snapper feeding on this size bait so don’t think you won’t catch the big fish on small lures.

If you are fishing on top of the reef, you should use lures that dive between 1-1.5m. It is best to target these areas in low light when the fish are making their way up into the shallows to feed. When fishing the reef edges, lures that dive between 2-4m are ideal as this will get you almost to the base of the drop-off in most areas.

Some of my most successful lures have been the O.S.P Power Dunk, Lucky Craft Bevy Shad, Maria Shad 55mm and the Sebile Koolie Minnow 90mm. All these lures are suspending so when you pause the lure they stay in the strike zone. Every lure I use for snapper and other reef fish have upgraded hooks on them. I use the Decoy Wide Gap hooks as they are a thicker gauge hook and are extremely strong but still have good penetration into hard mouths.

Fishing with hardbodies around the reef is definitely addictive but also a real challenge. It takes a little bit of persistence and time when learning what lure to use in what situation. But when you get it right, it’s definitely worth the effort.

If you have any queries or questions on anything I’ve written in this month’s column or enquires about products I have mentioned, please don’t hesitate to come down and see us at Fish Head in the Victoria Point Town Centre.

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