The cold weather has arrived early this year and along for the ride has come the pelagics with excellent catches of mackerel already popping up all over the place in Bowen waters.
This is not surprising at all as the amount of bait hanging around the inshore shoal mack patches has been phenomenal this year. Sounders are showing up plenty of bait balls and with them big packs of grey, spotty and Spanish mackerel, which are providing plenty of bent rods for anglers.
Earlier this month I was doing a couple of drifts over an inshore area picking up the odd fingermark and large-mouth nannygai on plastics when the outskirts lit up with a condensed ball of bait and some rather large arches. Thinking they were resident trevally or cobia I dropped the 7” Jerkshad down and it was quickly inhaled by a fast running fish which was obviously not a trevally and the reluctance to come to the surface proved it also wasn’t a cobia.
To my surprise a solid little 75cm Spaniard hit the surface and what followed was a 30 minute chaotic jigging session on very hungry, school-sized Spaniards with fish between 60-90cm often pulling vertical inclines in full view of the angler which I can tell you is extremely exhilarating. This early run is only good news for Spanish anglers and is a classic sign of a bumper season through the cooler months ahead.
The onset of the mack season in June usually sees big runs of large grey mackerel. Over the last two years fish up to 10kg were being encountered quite regularly in the aptly named Greys Bay and for many locals it was return to decades ago when the bay teemed with these fish.
Unfortunately these fish were heavily targeted by the commercial sector with operators from all over the place laying nets at night which saw tonnes of these fish taken from local waters over a very short amount of time so here’s hoping the fishery was not totally decimated and they will return in similar numbers this year.
The most popular spots to target macks in Bowen are on the inshore mackerel patches, which can be easily accessed by a small tinnie on a good day. The first patch is 5km from the Greys Bay Ramp with second patch a further 3km out. I will go as far to say that when these spots turn it on they can provide some of the best mackerel fishing on the east coast of Queensland.
Whether you are soaking a bait, trolling a spoon or having a high speed jig this is one place where pelagic ambitions and PBs can become a reality. I favour high speed jigging with plastics and metals and with the average depth being a measly 30-40ft it’s not too hard on the body as well. The secret is to use your sounder to dictate where to fish and find the bait and you will find the fish. These spots are a small boat owners dream and catching big pelagics out of a small tinnie is an experience everyone should try at least once in their life.
The macks aren’t the only fish on the chew out in the blue and with the winter spells usually producing the best weather there will be plenty of opportunity to run wide and get amongst the outer reefs which have been beginning to return to their best especially concerning coral trout.
Thankfully we had no big cyclones this year, which means the reef has had time to recover to some extent and the trout have begun to move back into the shallower water in numbers. Last month the trout bite was red hot over the new moon so this trend will probably continue over the next month.
The reds have also been biting well over the new moon however if anyone has any answers to how to keep the sharks off them please send me an email as they have been really giving anglers hell. It always amazes me how they only tend to eat the nannygai or emperor but leave my stinking trevally alone!
While I love drift fishing for these fish I recently purchased a Manson Supreme and now anchoring over sale and mud even in rough weather is a dream so if you are looking for a better anchoring solution I recommend you check one out.
In the creeks the mud crabs have gone on their usual mad run with the cold weather and if you see copious amounts of locals walking down the main street of Bowen sideways you can scratch that up to excellent crabbing currently taking pace.
Seriously I think cholesterol medication triples in town when the crabs run as bag limit catches are not uncommon on a single run of four pots. All creeks in and around town produce crabs however those north of the Don River are the most easily accessed. Just remember that you need the high tide to access these rivers so plan your run around the top of the tide to avoid chewing sand.
Next month the pelagic fishing will heat up in a big way and the bigger Spanish will start becoming more prolific which will make for some top sessions. I will be chasing the trifecta this year of a 40lb Spanish on jig, popper and troll in a single session.
If you are after more info on the pelagic run in Bowen just drop me an email at --e-mail address hidden-- On a lighter note I will also be fishing the majority of the west Coast of Australia in June over a four week period culminating with a few trips with Peak Sport fishing out of Exmouth so my arms should be a little longer on the next report.Reads: 892