The recent weather has really been hit and miss. There have only been short windows of opportunity to get out amongst the fish. Hopefully as we push through January the weather will get more consistent.
We should be starting to see some awesome pelagic action this month with the spotty mackerel beginning to turn up. When targeting these speedsters your approach to the school is extremely important. There are a lot of people that when they see some birds feeding and fish under them they push the throttle down and go flat out at the school of fish and try and pull up right beside them. This will put the fish down straight away and will get a lot of other anglers offside very quickly.
The key to working a school of mackerel is to sit off them for a little bit and see in which direction they are heading. They will generally feed into the wind but this isn't always the case. Once you determine the direction the school is heading then you can take a wide birth around the school and place yourself in a position to make a cast.
Spotties can be very spooky. Even casting into the middle of the school with a slug can send a feeding school of fish down. So it is better, if you can, to get your lure over the school and then pull it back through as fast as you can. This is where a high speed reel will come into it's own.
With everyone looking to chase spotties at this time of the year it can be a good option to go chase some snapper and sweetlip to get away from the boats. There are still really good numbers as well as quality getting around at the moment.
When targeting sweetlip areas like Ormiston Reef, Coochie and the reef edges around Goat Island it is important to remember that they will get up quite shallow. I generally target sweetlip up in 4-8ft of water and casting smaller hard bodies like the Lucky Craft Tango, Lucky Craft Pointer 65XD. The Jackall Chubby is also a very productive lure.
Another technique I have found that works for me is slow rolling plastics as if you are fishing with a hard body. When using this technique it is important that you use small plastics but you also want a plastic that puts out its own action. So plastics like the Z-man Streakz, 4” Curl Tailz or the Z-man 3” Minnowz work well because they have an awesome action when used with a slow roll. I will still rig these on a 1/8oz or 1/12oz 2/0 TT jighead. The reason I don't use super light jigheads is because I want the plastic to track at the same depth rather than lifting the plastic to the surface.
On the shallow reefs offshore there has been some really good fish getting around. Targeting these areas with plastics has been paying off for those who are willing to put in the time to find the fish. Species such as cobia, yellowfin tuna, estuary cod and some good quality snapper as well. We have had a few trips out there where you would be hooking cobia on every drift. Fish ranging from 8-14kg are great fun on plastics. The plastic that was working really well for us was the Z-man Streakz 8” in baby bass.
When looking over these shallow reefs searching for fish you want to be looking for large congregations of bait. This is where you will find your predatory fish such as cobia looking for an easy feed. It is also important to line your drift up properly, making sure you take yourself far enough over the spot so that you can get you plastic in the water and to the bottom before you hit the school of fish. If you don't line up the drift correct it can be the difference between getting a fish in the boat and going home empty handed.Reads: 955