Pelagic action is the hot topic lately. Even though there was a distinct lack of opportunities to get out in April, whenever the chance came, so did the fish in increasing numbers.
Some top Spanish mackerel made our eskies last month, particularly at Flat, Perforated, Hummocky and Manifold. Several of the fish approached the 30kg mark. They were caught hard along structure, while the smaller fish were hanging out a bit. We used lures and troll baits and the catches are fairly level over the whole month.
I have tried loads of different lures, from X-Raps to Crazy Deeps, and they can all catch fish, but my favourite is any of the metallic Crazy Deep range. Time after time they save the day with the best fish or the most fish. It may only be mind over matter because they get a longer run than other less proven lures.
The shallow lures get a trot as the sun comes up, but as it gets higher we go to the deeper stuff. Although usually the day starts with slow trolled baits, if you know the fish are there but there are no takers, we take out the lures.
The baits we prefer to troll are bonito, ribbonfish, gar and pilchards. Find the depth that the fish are feeding and work your gear to that height. We start on bait just on gangs and the others with various size weighted lead heads. If a pattern emerges, the gear gets changed accordingly.
This time of year you start collecting baits for later in the year as each of the bait schools pass the area. There are always two high speed rigs set up; one with either a small flasher or feather head, and a Taipan or big Flasha on the other. I try to never pass the bait schools without throwing a few casts at them. Many times we get a fish bin full of quality bait with just a small detour out of the day’s fishing.
When the schools come inside the bay they tend to pause at a few spots where you can have a go at them for longer sessions. The most consistent spots to get baits are Quartz, Rita Mada, Ironpot, Claytons, Forty Acre, Findlays and Farnborough Reef.
This year is much the same as other wet years with a poor showing of lesser mackerels. Doggies, spotted and greys all hit the wider areas and bypassed the bay in favour of the cleaner waters outside. There were reports of some huge doggies at Barren and the various grounds right out to the shoal country.
One of my favourite sportfish is GT. These guys are serious fighters on any line class and can give light line anglers the thrill of a lifetime. Trevally are around in large numbers at present. They have been in near plague proportions at several of the local rubble grounds and pinnacle type structures. On a recent run to some of our large mouth nannygai spots we must have caught and released 20-30 trevally of different types. It didn’t matter whether we used bait or plastics the results were just the same. We moved to other areas within a few kilometres and still caught trevally!
Trevors will take livies, pillies, flesh baits and squid, but the most fun is on lures or jigs. We used all sorts of plastics but Gulps were the winner on the day. Another trick that worked very well was to drop a white bean sinker on top of a 40g Flasha and jig it like a plastic. The bonus of this method was nailing a couple of small Spaniards up near the boat on long retrieves.
The Pinnacles, Manifold and Forty Acre Paddock have been on fire for trevally and should be around for a little while yet.
Trevally are also showing good form in the estuaries. They move up into the mangroves with the incoming tides where you can work the mangrove edges with small shiny lures or plastics. Last trip we got several GT on barra lures around snags along Greenslopes.
Black marlin are becoming more and more regular over a large part of the year. The last 12 months have been an eye opener for lots of the locals as captures haven’t stopped. Usually September and October produce the odd baby black and the another one or two show up with the schools of rainbow runners, northern pilchards and chub mackerel (similar to yellow tail scad, yakkas and slimy mackerel). The phenomenal amount of bait schools in the 40m plus areas is probably a reason why they don’t seem to have left.
Flat, Perforated, Jim Crow, Barren and the deeper rubble grounds have all produced baby blacks on and off all year. The majority of these were taken on floating pilchards or livies hanging under balloons. We don’t see the numbers like they do when the season is in full swing at the known marlin grounds like Cape Bowling Green, but we are getting more all the time. Maybe one day we might even be a marlin chasers destination.
Winter is here and still barramundi are turning up in estuary captures. Although they aren’t in the quantity they were over the hot months there is a good chance of a barra at many of the local spots, especially up in the town reaches and down around the mouth of The Fitzroy River. Many of the bigger fish have moved out to the headlands where they can hole up in consistently warmer water. The smaller fish don’t stray too far from their normal haunts, they just slow down and don’t feed as aggressively. Any day that is a little warmer than previous days should be worth a shot for a barra; lures or live baits can produce.
Grunter have kept on coming this year in the estuaries and offshore. Some of the biggest estuary grunter around have been landed at spots like Coorooman Creek and Connors Creek. The amount of prawns in the systems has meant that they were generally the best baits. As the prawns have slowed, herring and yabbies have moved into top spot with squid and pilchards as very good back up.
Whiting and dart are in good form along many of the beaches, including Long Beach, Farnborough Beach, Nine Mile and Three Rivers. Peeled prawns, beach worms, pipis and yabbies are top baits. The small gutters have been doing the trick, as sooner or later they move into each gutter heading up with the tide to feed.
Dart are great fun on lures using very light line. They like any small shiny lure, like 15-20g Twister, and even small soft plastics. Cast out and wind in a quick steady retrieve and any dart in the area is history. Sometimes we get blue salmon and flathead as welcome by-catch, if you can land them on the light line.
Bream, blue and king threadfin salmon, flathead and queenies are giving the creek fishers plenty of options. Black jew are firing around the river mouth and most of the coastal jew holes.
Last, but not least, majority of the reefies are on the chew making this winter a special all-rounder.