Kick into winter
  |  First Published: May 2012

Was that a hint of winter I see? No doubt you have noticed the subtle coolness over the last month as we head full steam into another Queensland winter. It’s a pleasure to see the end of those hot humid days out in the sun and, with the start of some fresh winds from the west, you could say ‘now we’re kicking goals!’

As the weather cools, the fishing starts to heat up around Northern Bay. Good reports of snapper, bream, flathead, tailor and estuary cod are still flooding in, which all points to anglers having a cracker winter bite.

The abundance of bait schools has been the talk of the month. The past rains have held these schools in the cleaner waters of river mouths and creeks bringing about an increased amount of predators cruising these areas. As the cooler months lead into spawning seasons for most fish, it’s always worth targeting creek run-offs, corner reef eddies and deeper river bends. Fish have a tendency to ‘feed up’ before their yearly pilgrimage and it can prove to be an opportunistic time to nab some decent fish.

Snapper numbers have definitely increased over the last month with anglers finding success on baits and soft plastics. The pick of the areas would be the ever-consistent North Reef at Scarborough; anglers have reported ‘dawn on the receding tide’ to be the premium time.

Another area gaining popularity in the Redcliffe region is Garnet Rock outside of Suttons Beach. Anglers have encountered consistent snapper numbers over past winters in this region and, with the large presence of bait around, it’s set not to disappoint for the forthcoming cooler months.

Fishos have reported hearing the sweet sounds of spraying baitfish around the peninsula, which often means the presence of one of the most enjoyable fighting predators, the toothy tailor. Cooler months often see greater numbers of tailor in Northern Bay cruising around for injured bait fish that are moving around with the tide and wind patterns. Metals slices have done the trick when retrieved rapidly through fleeing bait, along with long slender bodied lures around the 60-70mm in length. Lures worth a try are Bassday Sugar Deep 70SP minnows, Jackall Squirrel 61, Daiwa Double Clutch and Atomic Shad 50 Deep, but be sure to upgrade your leaders as it can prove to be an expensive exercise! But great fun.

Flathead numbers started slow last month but have gained strength as water temperatures have started to decrease making conditions ideal for this ambush feeder. As previously mentioned, creek run-offs and river bends seem to be the best areas to pick up a few with great reports coming out of the Pumicestone Passage.

Mission Point, the mouth of Glass Mountain Creek and Sandstone Point on the making tide have also been successful for lizards, especially targeting dirty water lines and drop-offs where flatties have been sitting patiently. Lightly weighted mullet strips, live herring and poddy mullet have been the local’s choice of baits with the lure fanatics selecting minnow-style plastics in 3-4” lengths to keep the flatties entertained. Using a 1/12-1/8th weighted jighead ensures your plastics remains close to the bottom with a twitch-twitch-pause retrieve doing the most damage.

When mercury starts to head south and water temps decrease, we often see a significant drop in the numbers of estuary cod appearing around the peninsula. But not this month. Numbers have been averaging quite modestly, which can be put down to the significant abundance of bait around the reef bommies. Due to variances in water clarity, anglers fishing heavier line strengths have been able to fight these cagey predators successfully rather than becoming a casualty of war around reef-like areas.

The legal length for estuary cod are 38cm and, trust me, you know when you have a legal one on your line! Do not to set your drag lightly while fishing in potential cod territory as your fight will be short lived and may end in tears!

Estuary cod love ambushing rock dwelling crabs so try to anchor up on shallower reefs and present your baits lightly weighted to decrease snag ups.

Another shallow reef dweller worth chasing this month is the trusty bream. With the up and down weather we have had over the start of the year, bream numbers have still shown really good consistency and are set to stay that way as they begin preparations for their annual spawn.

Good size and numbers of bream have been pulled throughout all areas of the Northern Bay with the hotspots being the mouths of Ningi Creek, Pine River and Caboolture River, especially on the top of the tide leading into the run-out. On the bottom of the tide, search for deeper water as bream tend to retreat as the tide does and feed up as the tide rises. Spots where this theory is proving to be helpful are the mouth of Newport Waterways at Scarborough, Gallaghers Gutter, the mouth of the canals at Bribie, North Reef at Scarborough and Luggage Point in the Brisbane River. Anglers are having great success using bait (mullet strips, chicken breast) and soft plastics (Atomic 2” Jerk Minnows, Z-Man 2.5” GrubZ).

Enjoy the cooler conditions and don’t forget to pack the thermos!

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