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November heat and eat
  |  First Published: November 2012



For those new to the pleasure of fishing our South East Queensland waters, November is a great month to be hitting the water. Apart from the warm weather, which often makes you feel more like being in the water than on it, November has some exciting fishing on offer for those making the effort.

There is a healthy array of species around for those fishing throughout the Moreton Bay area and further offshore. Slip, slop and slap before getting outdoors to check out some of these angling opportunities.

BAY PELAGICS

Moreton Bay anglers are lucky to have such a healthy and diverse fishery at their beck and call. During November the action can be as hot as the sun with a broad array of species on offer.

Concentrations of baitfish are starting to build throughout the month. As these filter into Moreton Bay they can be followed by species such as mac tuna, frigate tuna, bonito, longtail tuna, cobia, school mackerel, spotted mackerel and numerous other species. Having a spin rod rigged and ready with a small chrome slice or stick bait plastic can definitely pay dividends. If a school pops up nearby, you can quickly fire out a cast to hopefully be rewarded with a solid hook up and a screaming run.

Mackerel numbers can be sporadic during November, especially as far as spotties are concerned. The better concentrations of these are usually located during December and January however there are always a few caught during November.

School mackerel can be numerous and are often caught quite unexpectedly in some fairly unusual places. Those fishing around the bay islands would be wise to float out a pilchard under a balloon as schoolies can roam these margins looking for small concentrations of bait, especially gar and hardiheads.

Those fishing around beacons will also encounter a few macks on casted and retrieved chromed slugs and slices or baits such as small live yakkas, slimey mackerel, herring and pike or possibly the humble pilchard. Most of the beacons from the four beacons north can hold numbers of mackerel and other pelagics. Out from the mouth of the Brisbane River, the Measured Mile beacons can be especially reliable.

Early morning rising tides offer good opportunity however they can be worth investigation at any time. Common techniques include drifting the area casting chrome slugs and slices or fishing with baits. The latter provides a more relaxed approach and can be a leisurely way to spend a session, especially when inexperienced anglers are aboard. Anchoring and drifting out a ganged hook rigged pilchard under a balloon or float is a common way to fish. Berleying with small pieces of cut pilchard can promote a bite and keep the mackerel lurking in the area.

It is often a case of feast or famine with the bite period being fast and furious with several fish landed in a short period or not at all. Wire will decrease the bite rate considerably so it pays not to use it. The occasional fish lost from having them bite through a monofilament or fluorocarbon leader is a small price to pay for the overall increase in strikes.

Obviously, surface feeding schools are occasionally located and anglers can cast small chrome slices, jerkshad style plastics and numerous other plastics to tempt them. The occasional spotted mackerel will be located amongst the schoolies but the best numbers of these should be yet to come, probably late December.

In addition to the mackerel, tuna and bonito species will also be about. Longtails take first prize in both the sportfish and edibility stakes but are also usually the least common. Mack tuna, frigate tuna and bonito are the most commonly located species and although not really palatable, they do make great sport, especially when hooked on lighter line classes of less than 6kg.

Apart from taking abroad array of different cast and retrieved lures (the preferences can vary hourly), these species also make a great target for those waving the fly rod about. Small baitfish profiled flies, such as bay bait, surf candies, silversides and polar fibre minnows can all work a treat. The smaller tuna can be targeted on rods as light as #5 while the longtails and larger mac tuna are best targeted with a #9 or #10. For mackerel I opt for the #7 however if you only have one fly rod then just give it a go and see what you can land.

Due to the small size of the baitfish during November, the fly fishers often get the best portion of the action as they can present such small offerings efficiently.

Live baiting around the beacons can produce all manner of mackerels, bonito and tuna, however you are also highly likely to tempt a cobia or even possibly a golden trevally, yellowtail kingfish or the occasional Spanish mackerel. If cobia are your target then opt for large live baits such as whiptails, cowanyoung and juvenile reef species (adhere to relevant size limits).

OFFSHORE PELAGICS

As you venture further offshore, the action will not wain although the species list will change a little. Prime targets are billfish, with sailfish and black marlin on the inshore grounds and striped marlin, larger black marlin and blue marlin as you get further offshore into deeper waters.

The juvenile black marlin and sailfish are the target of many anglers fishing from craft as diverse as small centre consoles to high-powered floating Hiltons. These blacks are generally less than 40kg in weight making them a great fight on 8kg monofilament. However they can often be encountered to much larger sizes on the close grounds.

Skirted lures are common offerings for these small blacks, especially when searching for some action on the troll. Swimming and skipping garfish are also prime fare especially for those predominately targeting sailfish.

Other pelagics, such as mahi mahi, yellowfin tuna, wahoo, Spanish mackerel, mack tuna, striped tuna and the occasional large GT can show up in the captures of anglers fishing the prominent grounds of Hutchinson Shoals, The Group, The Trench, Flinders Reef, The Waverider Buoy and Sullies. Obviously there are plenty of other areas to try and the action can often be surprisingly good if you are in the right place at the right time.

If you are not specifically targeting billfish then try trolling lures such as large diving minnows (X-Rap Magnums, CD Magnums, Halco Laser Pro, Sebile Koolie Minnows and Yozuri Hydro Magnums) plus numerous lipless crankbaits or stickbaits. The action on the offshore grounds can be very sporadic but it pays to check it out whenever you can at this time of the year. Keeping your ear to the ground amongst fishing mates may also help you to find out where and when they are on the chew.

BRISBANE RIVER

As the water temperature warms up a bit in the Brisbane River the prominent action will alter a little from the previous few months. The tailor, mulloway and snapper that we commonly caught throughout the colder months will give way to species such as threadfin salmon, estuary cod and numerous others.

Ironically, anglers will probably still encounter the odd decent mulloway and snapper throughout the warmer months, as was the case last summer.

Threadfin are a highly prized target for live baiters and lure casters. They will respond well to both techniques but first you have to work out how to put your offering in front of them. This can often happen by chance however there is no denying that those who learn the threadfin’s habits and haunts will definitely get amongst them more often.

Baitfish activity is the catalyst for threadfin presence so having a good sounder and being able to use it to find this bait and/or larger predators will short track your effort. The edges of the main riverbed, where it drops sharply, off the banks and shallows are prime areas to target as the tide starts to fall. Jighead-rigged plastics, lipless crankbaits, blades and a host of other offerings can be employed. Lighted areas also attract baitfish at night and casting a lure into these zones can often be rewarding. Often, threadfin tails can be seen breaking the surface as they feed just below the surface, preying on baitfish disorientated by the light and turbulent water. Try plastics (especially shad and prawn/shrimp profiles), blades, minnow lures and even topwater offerings such as poppers and stickbaits.

Threadfin will often lurk along the rock walls at the mouth of the Brisbane River or near the dredge area therefore any shower of baitfish or good showings on the sounder is worth concentrating your efforts around. Live baits including mullet, herring, prawns and pike will also tempt threadies in an array of areas.

Estuary cod are also fairly common captures during the warmer months in the Brisbane River. These mottled, and rather tasty, brawlers are most common around heavily structured areas such as rock walls, jetty pylons, wharves and submerged structure. Putting your offering close to this structure is often required to promote a strike, however this will also mean that the odds are in the cod’s favour as far as getting back into their structure. A strong drag and thumb-lock on the spool is often required to pry them away.

Snapper, bream, flathead, mulloway and less common species such as grunter, trevally and grass sweetlip can also show up in the river at times so it can be a real lucky dip. The quality of the fishing in the Brisbane River is pretty amazing I think, considering it snakes its way through the largest city in the state and is such a busy port.

ESTUARIES

The inshore waters will also fish fairly well throughout November with species such as mangrove jack, estuary cod, trevally, tarpon, bream, flathead and whiting being on the cards.

Mangrove jacks are often the target for many anglers, whether lure casting, trolling or live baiting. Their elusiveness (well for most of us), aggressive strikes and exceptional eating qualities are some of the reason for this. Most lure casting anglers will release the majority of their catch as they realise the great sport fishing potential of this species for the inshore angler.

Minnow lures, especially those with some degree of floatation up to around 120mm in length, are very popular for working around heavy structure. They can be cranked down and worked close to the structure yet allowed to float up and over any obstacles you hit. Soft plastics, especially shad and prawn profiles are also worth using and these can also be worked through heavy structure, especially with weedless rigs such as the TT Snakeheads. Slow constant retrieves and erratic, jerky retrieves can all work well in the right situation.

Higher barometer readings will usually create heightened activity amongst the jack population which will produce the best opportunity. Dawn and dusk are prime times to be casting your lures or soaking a few live baits such as herring, prawns, mullet and gar. Cod, trevally, bream and a host of other species can be encountered while targeting jacks.

Flathead numbers will also be fairly healthy throughout the warmer months. Trolling small brightly coloured lures along the edges of prominent sand and mud banks on a falling tide will probably see the easiest opportunity to target these bottom dwellers. Brightly coloured minnow lures that bang and rattle across the bottom are productive offerings.

Working the declines along these edges with soft plastics will also work a treat. Paddle-tail shads and curl-tail grubs are probably the most used offering however many different plastics will work when hopped or slow rolled down these banks.

Mud crabs are also worth targeting in the estuaries during the warmer months. Setting safety pots baited with old fish frames, chicken carcasses, and the like, will likely tempt any crab in the area. Setting your pots adjacent to collapsed mangrove banks, in deep holes and at the mouth of prominent gutters, drains and creeks will put you in with a good chance.

CONCLUSION

The warmer months bring forth an increase in baitfish numbers which creates heightened activity from pelagic species within the bay and offshore. Many demersal species also benefit from this food source and therefore the quality of fishing on all fronts is generally fairly good throughout the warmer months.

Extra care needs to be taken when heading out into the great outdoors as the heat of the sun can reap havoc at times. Make sure you slip, slop and slap when venturing out and take extra care on the water during busy times, such as the weekends, so everyone can enjoy their time out fishing and more importantly, return home safely.

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